Ms Soapbox found herself organizing the sock drawer this morning.
She blames this burst of domesticity on Donald Trump.
She’ll explain how this ties back to Alberta politics in a moment, but first a quick recap of the most recent Trump blowout.
Last week Mr Trump tweeted that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other congresswomen should go back to where they came from, or words to that effect. All four are American citizens, three were “born and bred” Americans (why does everyone use that phrase, it makes us sound like cattle), one immigrated to the US as a child.
The mainstream media and social media went nuts.
They debated three issues:
- This proves/doesn’t prove Trump is a racist. Does it matter? His base and many swing voters don’t care if he’s racist or just plain nasty.
- This demonstrates Trump is a savvy politician; he’s painting the Democratic Party as AOC “social democrats” in order to recapture the swing districts he lost in the mid-term elections. All the more reason for the Democrats to figure out who they are before Trump does it for them.
- AOC should pipe down because she’s undermining Nancy Pelosi who’s done more for progressive causes than anyone. One journalist asked: where was AOC when Ms Pelosi was fighting to get Obamacare through Congress in 2010? Oh please, in 2010 AOC was in university completing a degree in economics and international relations. Furthermore, Ms Pelosi’s past achievements do not justify silencing AOC and other fresh thinkers who are in short supply in the Democratic Party at the moment.
AOC responded to Mr Trump with this: “Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy.”
This is why the Trump tweet and the ensuing media brouhaha are important in the context of Alberta politics where the UCP continue to demonize Rachel Notley, the NDP and their supporters as “social democrats” bent on destroying our way of life by undermining our capitalistic economy.
If the UCP and their supporters want to discuss capitalism, it would help if they understood the meaning of the word and its history.
In his book, Economics for Everyone, Jim Stanford explains that capitalism is just one form of economy. He says homo sapiens have been around for approximately 100,000 years and had an economy the entire time. Capitalism has existed for 250 years. To put this into context, if the history of man is represented by a 24-hour day, then capitalism has been around for three-and-a-half seconds.
Capitalism is defined by two crucial features: profit-seeking investment by private corporations and wage labour. Capitalism comes in many varieties.
Mr Stanford compares the key economic and social indicators of four capitalistic countries, the US, Germany, Japan and Sweden and demonstrates that the country with the highest GDP (US) performs much worse than the other countries on other important indicators including poverty rates, inequality, pollution, incarceration and premature death–leaving one to question the assumption that GDP is a good indicator of quality of life.
Mr Stanford points out “the strategy of incrementally reforming capitalism, while preserving the system’s defining features, has traditionally been the ideological core of the social-democratic movement.”
Or to put it another way, social democrats are trying to make capitalism better.
Now that we’ve cleared that up
So, the next time someone tries to smear the NDP by calling them social democrats, tell them the NDP is working hard to make capitalism better and ask them what they and their UCP government are doing to achieve the same goal. After they’ve listed all their efforts to improve capitalism (not corporatism), feel free to engage in a healthy debate on the respective merits of their policy choices compared to yours.
Because whether weak leaders like it or not, we’re going to debate policy. We’re going to challenge the suitability of old economic policies that failed to address the problems of the last decade (does the financial crash of 2008 ring a bell?) and are now being touted by unimaginative conservatives as our economic salvation.
There is honour in being a social democrat.
I’ll take Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rachel Notley over Donald Trump and Jason Kenney any day.