NDP: left behind
Saskatchewan’s NDP won’t win anything by denying who they were.
Social democratic politics within the west has hit a dead end. By abandoning anti-systemic language and policy, these parties have become little different from existing liberal political groups. Young people are not apathetic for just any reason; they are apathetic because they have been educated since birth to believe that only parliamentary politics have any relevancy. Seeing nothing in existing parties for them, youth check out of parliamentary politics.
The failure of young people to engage in politics is not entirely of their own making. While youth may check out of politics due to the lack of a choice representing them, they also live in a culture of increasing economic precariousness. Liberal-democratic culture states that if one works hard, they can “make it.” Those who did not succeed did not work hard enough; we’ve heard it a million times.
Three levels of government who care little for those who provide them services every day make this precariousness worse. City council is dominated by reactionary businesspeople who defund highly successful gang-exit programs and increasingly push the costs of running a city onto those who can least afford it while building a $700,000,000 stadium and new subdivisions that house 30,000 people. The Saskatchewan Party sell our resources at bargain-basement prices while privatizing healthcare and defunding post-secondary education.
Nearly every successful progressive movement has incorporated forms of social education as the basis of its activities. If people are not educated as to the nature of your program, they can fall for any snake oil-selling politician. From the CCF to Mao Zedong to Fidel Castro, a left-wing organization of any kind must seek to educate the people whom it wishes to capture. If progressives are hoping to get elected, then they should enact socially progressive policies.
How does one communicate their programme in a reactionary media environment? One of Saskatchewan’s most reactionary and anti-worker provincial governments is also its most popular. Though the New Democrats’ historic low can be attributed to an exasperated public voting against a historically unpopular leader, the party cannot count on a magical pendulum to defeat Wall. He and his cronies survived the Devine years and have learned to stay within the letter of the law.
People are intelligent. If we weren’t, we would not have reached the point we are at. If one takes time and shows people the awful things being committed by the state, it is highly likely they will find these practices untenable as is. Adopting a platform which would allow people to create the world in which they wish would go a long way to winning support for the establishment left.
A political organization cannot hope to succeed by love, hope, and optimism, alone. If a party offers a legitimate platform to the people and adequately communicates how they stand to benefit from their being in power, in time they will attain that. Offers of reduced credit card fees and tuition freezes are not enough for youth who are stretched thin enough between a ten-dollar minimum wage and university classes that cost nearly six hundred dollars. There is nostalgia for left-wing politics in Saskatchewan, but it is not to be found in their parents’ political party who continue to drift to the right and irrelevance.