The Obamaisation of Canada

Canada’s young activists ready to rock Obama-style

Barak Obama colour posterWashington, DC —Call it writer’s block, but I’ve been struggling for a while to find a coalition-related topic to blog about on this new site, and frankly, it’s been extremely difficult.

The endless media stories I’ve been wading through on what the pundits and financial experts think should or should not be in the crucial upcoming Canadian budget have begun to blur before my jaded eyes. Yours, too?

Yes, I know this budget is critically important for the future prosperity of Canada and the hope of a progressive parliamentary coalition. I’m among those pushing for a profound change in Canadian politics.

But in comparison to what’s happening in our neighbour to the south, Canadian coalition politics and its political leaders seem pompous, dull, boring, pale and uninteresting. Stevie and Iggy may be political superstars north of the 49th parallel, but Barack Obamas they ain’t.

The goslings flew south

The amazing thing about the Obama campaign is how hard it has hit young Canadians. Obamamania has taken Canada by storm. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of young and active Canadians rushed to join the Obama campaign. Like their national avian counterparts, some even flew south this winter to help their enthusiastic US counterparts.

In jurisdictions throughout the United States, progressive young Canadians learned at first hand the nuts and bolts of Obama-style, grassroots electioneering. They eagerly absorbed the innovative use of modern information technologies such as Facebook and the social web, as well as the traditional telephone polling and voter registration techniques that are still the conventional tools of Canadian politics.

The innocent Canadian goslings that flew south are returning now, preparing for a possible spring or fall election here. But they will have changed. Empowered by Obama’s brilliant success, they have absorbed the new online electioneering techniques and are eager to apply them. They are ready to rock — and Canadian politics is going to roll.

Grassroots online campaign

It’s been written about before, but it bears repeating: the success of the Obama campaign is how it has been able to brilliantly captivate the hopes of millions of “ordinary” Americans and harness their energies in an Internet-driven, grassroots campaign that broke with tradition.

Through hundred of thousands of small donations — $10, $20, $50 or sometimes $100 — the Obama raised millions more than the stumbling McCain machine garnered from rich Republicans. The old mould of Big Money buying elections is broken. Obama has proved that grassroots politics can work, when it uses the new technologies effectively.

How this all is going to play out in Canada in 2009, and whether the Obama empowerment will wake up the silent generations of politically turned-off younger Canadians, remains to be seen.

But I have a suspicion that whatever the outcome of the next Canadian election, from this historic day of the inauguration of the 44th US president onwards, Canadian politics is never going to be the same.

Majority Coalition Canada

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