As 2016 comes to a close, I felt it was best to reflect on the past 365 days and some of the consequences heading into 2017.
We are just a few hours away from celebrating the end of 2016, and the start of another year. Except, we will actually have to wait an extra second before we ring in the New Year (http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/2016-to-linger-an-extra-second-on-new-year-s-eve-1.3222122).
This has been one of the most interesting years that I can recall. We saw huge geo-political changes take place, and we do not know the lasting impact that some of these will have. America was so close to electing a democratic socialist to the presidency, but the corrupt Democratic party chose 'the more electable one' which resulted in the interesting election results. We are seeing a rise of protectionism and nationalism across the world, with the American election, the vote for Brexit, and this trend may continue with the presidential election in France.
Here at home we saw the reality of electing the person with the good hair. A government that has no real plans, and in typical liberal fashion, govern for the interests for the supper-connected, and not in the interests of all Canadians. We must wait and see, but with both opposition parties choosing permanent leaders, Trudeau is going to need to step-up and take his role seriously if he plans to win again in 2019.
Alberta has taken a leadership positon. Instead of being forced into a plan controlled by Ottawa, we have chosen to build an Alberta Climate Leadership plan, that has provided us with the Social License that led to the approval of 2 pipelines. The economy is improving, and the start of a green economy will be seen this year. The next chapter in the Alberta story is being written, and the best parts of it have not even been written yet. However, Alberta is at a crossroads, there are calls to go backwards. I am firmly against that! Better is possible, and that requires bold leadership to continue moving forward.
2017 means an incredibly important election in British Columbia. The BC Liberals have been governing for 15 years, and there could be a real appetite for change. However, if the BC NDP were successful, they would be in complete opposition to the Alberta NDP government, which would be interesting, and bring in real questions as to where the Federal party should be going. Just as important will be the municipal elections throughout Alberta! Leadership is needed at every level, and that means that we need strong mayor, city councils, and school boards to help write the next chapter.
2017 will not be as historic. But the consequences of the actions throughout 2016 will be felt for years to come, and will come full force in 2017.
I believe that Hope can out win fear!
I believe that Better is possible!
This election was not what we were expecting. What we must do is to keep perspective! I know on election night, and on the days since, emotions have been running high. But they should be! Politics should not be just voting once every 4 years; it is about being involved all the time. This was one of the most consequential votes of our time, but not for the reasons many may think. The fact that Donald Trump was elected should not be the focus, but instead what this election truly shows.
This was not a vote for Trump, in fact Hillary won the popular vote, but instead it was a vote against the system. The corrupt politicians, and corrupt business people who have bought the system. It was a vote against the political elite, and against the status quo politicians. It was a vote for protectionism, isolationism, and a restoration of a myth that is the American dream. People did not vote for a racist, misogynistic, bigot to become the president, instead they voted for the one man who promised to take on the system that they see as the root of the problem. The system was represented in the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, she is every thing that appears to be at fault for Americas problem. The corrupt, politically connected, elite were all supporting the Clinton candidacy, so for many people there was absolutely no other option.
The middle class has had their jobs, livelihood, economy, and in some places, entire cities, pulled right from under them. Their jobs ‘stolen’ by the third world countries. It used to be simple, if you worked hard, played by the rules, you could be successful, but that’s hard when the entire system is against you. When the corporate and political elite are designing free trade deals that will result in the movement of jobs overseas, why would you put your own life at risk by voting for more of that? It just doesn’t make sense. So, when Trump says he’ll bring back the Jobs, by reversing the one thing that directly resulted in the transfer of jobs away from America, these people now have hope. Hope that they could return to an economically safe position. That is the scariest part of all of it.
The Republican party won the working middle class vote, because their candidate talked directly to the issues. These were the ‘forgotten people’ that Trump referred to throughout the campaign. People who have felt left behind in this new era, who just want their job security back. I can’t blame them for voting for the Candidate who was willing to speak up for the them, to actually talk about the issues facing the middle class. I supported a candidate that was anti-system as well, and he was Bernie Sanders. The Democratic party chose a nominee that was seen as too corrupt, and too politically connected to be able to relate to the struggles of the middle class. For years, the Democratic party relied on these votes, took these people for granted, because they would never go for the other side. Or so they thought! No one could have predicted the rise of the anti-system candidate from within the Republican Party, unless you’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party movement within the GOP, and how it has almost taken over the entire establishment of the party. As one of my friends has said, Donald Trump is the mold that grew off the dirty gym socks that is the Republican Party. It was only a matter of time until someone came along and ran on everything that they have been calling for over the years. That person is Donald J. Trump, and he will be the President of the United States of America for the next four years.
It is now up to the left, and to the progressives, and in fact up to every single American to rise up and say enough is enough! Say no the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism that grew out of a lost of hope across the country. To stand up, to talk, and stay politically engaged, not just for the next 1500 days or so until the next president, but instead every single day and on every single issue that strikes an emotion in us. We need to fight for policies that benefit the entire middle class, that keeps all Americans safe from both domestic violence and international acts of terrorism, and to start questioning the archaic political system that results in a person losing the popular vote but winning the election. This is not easy, and definitely not easy for a country that has over two centuries of history. But its time to write the next chapter of the American story, and I wish them the best of luck. I am confident that things will get better, that long-term, America will be the country of love, of hope, of freedom, of prosperity, and the country where every child can reach their fullest potential. While the path will be rough, and will take some zigs and zags, positive progress always in the end takes over. I believe it will in America as well.
Updated On July 26th to reflect nomination
Following a week of a Republican celebration, and partial unification, the Democrats now get their shot at making headlines. After a rather uneventful week, the Democrats have a real chance at coming out united, and as a unified party ready to tackle the Trump campaign. However that might not be enough. Clinton is vastly unpopular, with her numbers becoming worse. Nothing is being done to truly help this.
Hillary has chosen Tim Kaine as her running mate. Governor of Virginia for 2006-2011, Kaine also served as mayor of Richmond previously, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. There is no doubt that he has the political experience necessary to fill this role. Furthermore he fits very well in the Clinton campaign. Which means this was not the choice that would have grown the popularity of the ticket. He is a centrist, and will not appeal to the new powerful, populist, more progressive, side of the party. Now, I know the goal might be to attract the white, male, middle-class vote, however that is very much polling in Trumps favor. However he was in support of TPP, but as any good politician did a 180 to get ahead, and that will hurt with those people. Bad trade deals have hurt the white middle class the most, and those people very firmly stood in the Trump or Sanders campaigns. So this will not, in my opinion, work to that advantage. He may be able to win over some Hispanics, but even that is a stretch. To me, the only logical reason to pick Tim Kaine, is to have a completely boring next Vice President, because both of the candidates (from both the democrats and republicans) are honestly boring and just not going to help their main candidate. However, Clinton is probably gambling that it will not be a loss, and as a bonus she didn't need to make concessions to the progressive side.
This past week, thousands of devoted Conservatives come down to Cleveland, Ohio, and participate in the 2016 Republican National Convention. A convention like no other, it was a rather interesting week, and for a poli-geek it was a great week. Here's just a quick recap of what went down.
Monday- Melania Trump
She made a wonderful speech. Well, actually she just restated Michelle Obama's speech, but that is neither here nor there. The point is that this speech did exactly what it was intended. To humanize Trump, show a new softer, kinder side of Donald. That was the goal of this opening night speech, and in many regards it did that. While it did not sway me over at all, and many references are just plain wrong, we did see a pretty well delivered speech.
Tuesday- Gov. Christie, and more family
It was another great night of speeches. Well to a degree. Let's start with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He decided to turn the republican convention into a jury, and have a court session, without the defendant even being present, or any defense for that matter.
Today, marks the start of the 2016 Republican National Convention. A convention unlike no other. Where a complete outsider will become the Republican nominee for president. An outsider who is loved by few, and disliked by most. We have to question if he should even be here.
Bernie Sanders has endorsed Hillary Clinton, and while there has been a little speculation raised that he was forced to do so, as per DNC rules, and that the campaign lives on, the mass media will not allow that. We have known since the beginning that the establishment does not support Bernie, and will do almost anything to stop this political movement. A movement of the people to take back their country. A movement of positive, progressive ideas, that restored the power to the people. Where does that movement go from here?
Does the movement continue with Hillary Clinton?
Australia just finished their election on July 2nd to elect members to the 45th Parliament of Australia. While the election happened over a week ago, we are just now seeing the final results. Australia has a relatively simple Parliament. The House of Representatives (lower house) is composed of 150 members, electing in single districts, however they are elected with preferential ballots. The Senate (upper house), has 76 senators representing a state or territory, these are elected using STV. Wait ... that already seems complicated, and it is! To make things worse, all of these ballots are counted by hand. This means that counting takes a ridiculously long time. However, this may change, as the country considers switching to e-voting, in order to speed up the results process. And still, at the time of writing this, all votes have not yet been counted. Just over 80% of the vote had been counted, however the pundits have safely predicted who is most likely to win the seat, as the remaining votes are highly unlikely to make a huge difference. So, what are the results? At the time of this writing..
Liberal/National Coalition: 76
This means that we have another right-wing conservative majority government in Australia. However for a week we were in a situation where we really did not know who would win, so finally having a result is much better. What is important though is this does not capture the true change in what happened.
What we saw was a huge swing against the government, a loss of 3.4%, which was nearly exclusively from the Liberal vote. The only members of the coalition to see its first preference vote increase was The Nationals, which gained 0.6%. The opposition Labor party saw an increase of 1.5%, the Greens gained 1.3%. The Palmer United party saw their entire vote collapse, and other minor parties gained 4.2%. We also saw the rise of a new party, especially in South Australia, where the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) gained 21.3% of the vote in that state alone. That was really there only high support area, having only 1.9% of the nationwide vote. However the effect of this party, especially running on a platform claiming to be different then the other two mainstream parties, is still not fully known. What we do know, is that this party will be hugely influential in this new senate.
A less controlled senate
This was a special election, a double dissolution, which I don't fully understand, however it resulted in the entire senate being up for election at the same time. The government wanted to bring in legislation to restore the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission), however the senate at the time refused to pass it, and through some constitutional measures Prime Minister Turnbull was able to call for both houses to be dissolved. The goal was for more stability in parliament and for them to have the ability to pass necessary legislation. That did not happen.
Where do we go from here
Another 3 years of a Liberal/National right-wing government, however with a renewed opposition ready to make sure the government stays on track. After a devastating loss in the 2013 election, the Labor party has made a real comeback, and Bill Shorten will continue to be an effective opposition leader. Malcolm Turnball has squeaked out enough seats to remain in power, and have a working majority in the house. However, he must be faced with the facts of the vote loss, and the clear mandate giving to the Labor party to save medicare. Secondly, he will also have to battle this new senate, that is really his fault. It was his choice to call for the double dissolution. Finally, all MPs and Senators were giving a mandate to work for the people, and I'm optimistic they will see that through. I just hope they won't have to go back to the polls before the three year mandate is up.
Like many Sanders supporters, I was a little disappointed when he formally endorsed Hilary Clinton. They couldn't be more different, and that is why many people are looking for an alternative. Bernie was the candidate for so many, due to his ideas. Bernie started building a political revolution, to take on the millionaire class, and give the country back to its people. Bernie's campaign was one of economic, political, environmental, and social justice. Taking on Wall Street, and a corrupt political finance system. Saying no to TPP, and yes to good American jobs. Tackling climate change, and providing tuition-free higher education. While in theory, Hilary has now supported many of the progressive ideas, and the Democratic party has the most progressive platform in its history, she is still part of the corporate establishment that the Sanders revolution was so against. Hilary was under FBI investigation, and every fact that she claimed has came back to be a lie. In a typical election season she would not be electable, however this is not a normal election season. Many people will hold their nose, and vote for the establishment, vote for nothing to change, they will vote for Hilary Clinton. However, many will not vote for her, many will never vote for someone who is in support of everything they are against. It is time for an alternative, and we may be seeing that.
Jill Stein and the Green Party