In part, politics is about giving the average person hope for a better future. That part Barack Obama got, that part got him elected president of the United States in 2008. However, until the new Jerusalem is built, politics - sad to say - is also about channelling anger.
There's been plenty of that in the United States over the past two decades - and Republicans were able to channel it against Mr. Obama when blaming George W. Bush began to wear a bit thin. And, by surrounding himself with a Harvard/Wall Street elite, Mr. Obama left himself open to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party - the latest manifestation of the "no-nothing" tradition in American politics.
On our side of the border, there's less anger. The economy is better, and our equivalent forces of anger are in government, not in opposition. But life inevitably has its frustrations and setbacks. And, as New Democrats in British Columbia have understood for many decades, if you don't give the average person a left-populist vehicle to channel their anger, they'll vote for the one on the right.
Examining the program suggested by my distinguished blogging colleague Brian Topp in the wake of the U.S. elections, I'm struck by how tame it is. With the Globe and Mail linking a Conservative MP to Swiss bank accounts this morning (albeit under an improbable headline), where's the demand for a review of our loophole-filled tax system - the kind of thing you heard even from left-Liberals like Eric Kierans in his day? With a Conservative minister de-camping to Bay Street on the eve of the Prime Minister's chief of staff arriving from the same square mile, where's the voice of Main Street that you heard from even Conservatives like John Diefenbaker in his day? And, with the National Post front-paging the latest in medical queue-jumping, where's the rounding defense of public health care for everyone that you would have heard from Tommy Douglas?
If New Democrats aren't prepared to show anger about these things, they shouldn't be surprised when Canadians turn around and express their anger about other things when they head into the ballot box in the coming year.