Thursday, May 07, 2015

Imagine a Green elected Texas governor

And you'll be able to relate to what happened in Alberta -- the Texas of Canada -- this week.

On Tuesday night, the near-unthinkable happened here in Canada when the New Democratic Party (NDP) stormed to a commanding majority in Alberta's provincial elections. To explain this in American terms: Imagine that Texas just overwhelmingly elected a legislature dominated by a left-wing party that opposes major oil pipeline projects; promises a core review of the obligations that oil and gas companies have to their communities; and favors fundamentally rethinking the tax structure toward large-scale redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Oh, and it's going to insist that climate change is real, man-made, and should bear on any policy that involves burning more hydrocarbons.

Even this comparison is tough, because Americans don't support a mainstream party as unabashedly left-wing as the NDP. (The Greens would be a decent analog. Or a breakaway party of Bernie Sanders acolytes.) Publicly NDP members say they're “social democrats,” but most of its members, like Canadians at large, use that term interchangeably with “socialist.” Alberta has traditionally been unyielding soil for the NDP. The province is defined by its vast fossil fuel reserves, comparable to Saudi Arabia in its oil underfoot. Once oil was discovered there in the 1940s, actual Texans rushed up to establish companies and, concomitantly, a pro-capital, pro-religion, pro-firearm style of politics that the rest of Canada regards as distinctly American. For 44 years before Tuesday night, a span of twelve straight elections, Alberta has been run by the Conservative Party, a decent analogue to the Republican Party. Before that was nearly 40 years of even more conservative rule under the Social Credit Party.

Kaboom (and that's not the sound of an exploding tar sands oil train, either).  This is what revolution at the ballot box looks like.

Honestly, I'd rather see Sanders in Washington as opposed to Austin; after all, he wouldn't be able to deal with the Lege that would still have too many Republicans in it (unless they shock us all and manage to let Texans get stoned legally, but that's another story).

It’s a game-changer for a number of reasons, one of which should have been immediately obvious: Alberta is home to the massive tar sands deposits that the oil industry wants to tap and ship south via the Keystone XL pipeline. And with the changing of the guard, the industry’s just lost a top Washington lobbyist – and is now facing leadership that opposes the pipeline and is committed to reducing the climate impact of oil development.

Can it happen here? Can something sort of like it happen here? Please?!

1 comment:

Charles Turner said...

Greens will have to do it in Texas. There are practically no Democrats left.