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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/20/15

Justin Trudeau Just Showed American Democrats How to Win the Next Election

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Reprinted from The Nation

Promises to tax the rich and to make infrastructure investment a priority -- along with an embrace of diversity -- beat the right in Canada.

Justin Trudeau's Election Night Victory Speech
Justin Trudeau's Election Night Victory Speech
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It may be true that American Democrats have nothing better to do than wait for Joe Biden to decide whether he will mount a third bid for the presidency. Or, failing that, to try to figure out what it is about democratic socialism that might appeal to underemployed young people who are burdened with staggering student debt and face the prospect of getting kicked off a parent's health insurance plan.

The 43-year-old leader of Canada's Liberal Party was not supposed to come out of the country's 2015 election as its prime minister. At the start of the race, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, ally of George W. Bush, role model for Scott Walker, was locked in serious competition with a cautiously left-leaning New Democratic Party. The traditionally centrist Liberals (at their best "vital center," at their worst blandly managerial), having been very nearly obliterated in the previous election, did not look particularly viable. And party leader Trudeau was frequently dismissed as the good-looking but inexperienced son of a great 20th-century prime minister.

"Seen at the beginning of the campaign as the least ready for the election of the three main party leaders," observed the Toronto Star at the end of the campaign, "Trudeau managed in 11 weeks to shape a compelling political narrative and provide Canadians with a credible alternative to Harper and the NDP's Thomas Mulcair."

Trudeau placed a lot of emphasis on hope and change, which drew comparisons to Barack Obama's inspired campaigns of 2008 and 2012. Obama and the Democrats faced significant challenges in both those US elections, but Obama's skills and vision -- and the ability of his campaign to forge unprecedented coalitions -- transformed those electoral moments. In 2016, however, Democrats will not have Obama on the ballot; and as the 2010 and 2014 elections cycles confirmed, Democrats struggle politically in such circumstances.

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