In a remarkable reversal of political directions, America has been transformed into a hothouse of liberal and—shhh—even socialist experimentation, while Canada seems a hotbed of reactionary conservatism. Yes, America is the new us, we’re the new America, and the Canadian left has to be wondering just where it all went wrong.
The eight years of the Bush presidency allowed progressive-minded Canadians to indulge in an orgy of moral superiority vis-à-vis the United States, but in three short months that country has almost completely changed course. Acting on the premise that it would be a shame to let a good crisis go to waste, Barack Obama has put his ship of state in a hard left turn, and his countrymen have dutifully gone along with it. Huge tracts of the economy have submitted to massive state intervention even as the President pushes full-steam ahead on school reform, a national health care program, and a new energy- and climate-change initiative.
On virtually all of the defining issues of America’s relentless culture war—drugs, stem cell research, gay rights—it is clear Obama is trying to push the U.S. away from the tightly ideological positions of the Republicans while adopting a looser and far more pragmatic approach.
Weirdest of all, ratings for National Public Radio—an institution so liberal even liberals make fun of it—have skyrocketed this year, with listenership for its flagship news and current affairs programs growing by nine per cent over the last year.
Meanwhile, up in Canada, the CBC is laying off 800 employees after the Conservatives refused to float it a bridge loan during the recession. And why would they? The Tories are too busy chumming their home waters, introducing measures aimed at starting a feeding frenzy over non-existent threats such as polygamy, illegal immigration, violent crime, and Islamic fundamentalism.