Layton getting awfully cozy with oft-despised Americans
To adopt the old parlance from sports to politics, "everyone wants to be like Barack".
It doesn't have quite the same snap as "everyone wants to be like Mike", but when assessing the state of left-wing politics in at least North America today, it holds true.
Just like anyone who ever even touched a basketball wanted to emulate the then-best-known athlete in the world, anyone who's ever embraced progressive politics wants desperately to emulate the man who is currently the best-known politician in the world today.
Certainly, Jack Layton wants to be like Barack. One need look no further than the theme of the 2008 NDP campaign: change.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Jack Layton attended the 2008 Democratic National Convention, either. For a party all too often content to accuse their opponents of importing American policies and American values, it seems that Jack Layton is utterly unafraid to get good and cozy with the "empire" to the south -- particularly with a Presidential candidate whose rightward shift promises little global reprieve from the "imperialist" policies the NDP so often denounces as abhorrent.
Of course, this particular paradox is nothing new for the NDP. Consider commentary offered by journalist Ian King about NDP House leader Libby Davies.
The episode in question involves Davies taking CBC veteran reporter Terry Milewski to Seattle to attend some anti-war protests there. Afterward, Davies brought anti-war protester Ann Wright back across the border.
As King notes, "There is nothing Canadian about the wholesale importation of the American “anti-war” movement, with all its attached hangups over Vietnam and line-by-line reuse of symbols and slogans from the time."
Add that to the fact that the anti-war movement in the United States -- preoccupied first and foremost with the Iraq conflict -- are ill-suited to address the state of affairs in Canada in regards to the Afghanistan conflict, which has been sanctioned by the United Nations, putting the lie to insistence that the war is "illegal", as opposed to the Iraq war which enjoys no such sanction and so arguably is illegal.
Not to mention that the Vietnam-era rhetoric being employed by Iraqi war resisters in Canada is also ill-suited to their obligation to participate in a war they volunteered to fight in (for good or ill).
Likewise, there is nothing Canadian about the wholesale importation of Obama-esque rhetoric into Canada, no matter how much the NDP wants to, or the Liberal party wishes they could.
Certainly, there's nothing un-Canadian about looking to political movements in other countries for inspiration, but therein lies the rub.
If it isn't un-Canadian for Jack Layton and the New Democrats (as Layton emphasizes it) to look south of the border for inspiration, then it isn't un-Canadian for the Conservative party to do likewise.
While the current state of affairs in the United States should serve as a cautionary tale to the Conservative party to remain very careful about which inspirations to act on and which to reject, for the NDP or their partisans to accuse the Conservatives of being un-Canadian for doing so isn't only engaging in some inherently silly rhetoric, it's also being incredibly dishonest.
Of course Jack Layton isn't really an agent of American Imperialism. To insist so is just plain silly. But, like stupid, silly is as silly does.
If Jack Layton wants to continue indulging himself in silly rhetoric that panders to cross-border partisan parochialism, he may want to remember this:
He could always reap that particular whirlwind.