A thoughtful reader has commented that he was surprised at the number of Albertans who ‘hated’ the N.D.P., notwithstanding the number of votes they received in the recent Alberta election.
A lot of this is simply emotion. Although such emotion is currently very hot, a lot of it will dissipate over time. But not all of it. In any case, the problem these people have is that their anger is misdirected. The N.D.P. did not create the new story: it reflects the lived experience of many Albertans. No party wins office with a story that is not grounded in the lived experience of voters. The N.D.P. won the Alberta election because they told a story that promised a different and more hopeful outcome for Albertans. They told a story that appealed to more Albertans than the story told by the P.C.s, or the Wild Rose Party. The N.D.P. story seemed more authentic, and more hopeful, to more Albertans. In the 2015 Alberta election the N.D.P. were the messenger, from the people, to other parties. The message was: Enough! The other parties were telling a story driven by fear; about living small, doing without (in one of the most prosperous communities on earth). The other parties were explaining why education and health care had to suffer, why corporations had to be lightly taxed, why the royalty rates had to be substantially less than in Norway…
The people who take comfort in the old story should be directing their anger at the people and parties who were telling a story that didn’t resonate. The reason the story didn’t resonate was simply that there was too much space between the promises contained in the story and the reality that people were living in Alberta. A flooding tide lifts all well-equipped and extravagantly manned yachts, but it swamps the overcrowded and poorly maintained little boat the grade one classroom or the patients in overworked emergency rooms (or many other Albertans) occupy.
If people have room for hatred, let them hate the story-tellers whose story was a demonstrable failure over the span of 20 years.
Better yet, let’s stop projecting failure on the new government. If it is true that people live up, or down, to the expectations that others have of them, every Albertan should be expressing high expectations for the new government. Give them expectations to live up to, not expectations that they can follow down into a mire.
As Aislin said of an earlier Quebec election, “OK everybody! Take a valium (and lighten up).”