Today Mr. Ezra Levant wrote another in a long line of rather sad and pathetic articles for the Sun Newspaper chain. Like most of Mr. Levant's articles it was a combination of misunderstanding rooted in his ideological blindness and intentional misrepresentations rooted in his ridiculous politics. I don't usually comment on Mr. Levant's work because it is largely beneath contempt but today's article is a good example of the general misrepresentations that are being bandied about in the media and on the internet.
In this particular article Mr. Levant is talking about the so-called Tea Party movement and certain signs that he believes are indicative of the same kind of movement in Canada. Chef among these is the popularity of Robert Ford in the Mayoral race in Toronto. Most outrageously Mr. Levant claims that the so-called Tea Party movement is a "democratic backlash" against what he uncharacteristically calls a "ruling class." The problem, of course, is that it is neither of these. The fact is that despite the apparent 'grassroots' nature of the Tea Party movement, it is, like many populist movements, being led and bankrolled by significant parts of the very "ruling class" that it claims to oppose. Thousands of average people may show up at Tea Party rallies in the US but these rallies are largely organized and financed by rich and powerful people like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin (both of whom are millionaires). This is not unlike John Baird complaining about "Toronto Elites" at a stump-speech and then getting back into this chauffer driven limo and taking the news back to his rich leader who was born in Toronto, has a Masters degree, and hasn't been in a supermarket for decades. In the US there are quite a few Republican Senators who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement and since it takes more than 50 million dollars to run for the US Senate, I would hardly call any members of this most elite of clubs, an average Joe. Furthermore, the so-called Tea Party movement (whether the official one in the US or the supposed offshoots of it in Canada), is nothing like a "democratic backlash." People like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, as well as their allies in Congress, are fully committed no legal limits on corporate donations for those running for office. Their agenda is really about the massive increases in Corporate power in society and influence at the political level. If this were really a "democratic backlash" it would be a movement to reduce the role that money plays in the political process. Furthermore, if we look at Ezra Levant's political masters in Canada we can see clearly that there is no democratic backlash. Just today our government (the one that Mr. Levant almost blindly supports) is making it clear that it will once again ignore the democratic will of the House and fail to reinstate the Long-form Census. It doesn't really matter where you come down on the issue of the Census, but if you support a government that continually ignores the will of the House, or prorogues Parliament in order to stay in power, it is clear that you are not interested in any kind of "democratic" anything.
Like most populist movements, the Tea Party movement is largely a sham. Far from being a "democratic backlash," it is simply another right-wing movement that is wrapping itself in the flag and using the jargon of democracy in order to further a corporatist political agenda and a Puritan ideology. It always amazes me that right-wingers like Ezra Levant call people on the left-wing naive and yet they fail in almost every case to apply the 'real-politik' standards that they claim motivate their analysis.
And as for the question of Robert Ford in the mayoral race in Toronto, calling his popularity part of a democratic backlash is laughable. That is the same as claiming that when Jim Watson wins the mayoral race in Ottawa against the right-wing O'brian, it is a sign that people's faith in political elites is growing. The Robert Ford phenomenon is multi-faceted but the population waking up to the power of a ruling-class or people's desire for real democracy are not part of this process. If Robert Ford does actually win the mayoral race I believe it will largely be a result of the fact that there is NO democratic backlash and a huge number of people have lost faith in the political process so a racist Neanderthal like Ford can win with that portion of the population that would like to take us back to the 'good old days' when children worked in factories.
I for one would love to see an actual 'democratic backlash' because I believe that if we did, the political agenda of men like Ezra Levant would sink back into the primordial ooze from whence it came. If we took the money out of the political process, if we truly democratized the media and the workplace, if we had some form of PR, the right-wing agenda would whither and die in no time. At least seventy percent of registered voters oppose Harper and his government, and I bet that number is much higher in the whole population. If society took a radically democratic twist Harper (and Mr. Levant) would be pushed so far into the political wilderness that they would hardly qualify as part of the fringe.