Over the past weeks some federal Liberals are musing over comments made by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The 76 year old “Little guy from Shawinigan” joked during the unveiling of his portrait on Parliament Hill that Gladstone had returned for a fourth majority when he was in his eighties.
Those comments have some Liberals longing for change, once again seeking a simple path back to political power and entitlement.
The only problem for the Liberals are that what the party needs isn’t yet another simple quick solution. Unless the Liberals want to wander in the political desert for decades, their task isn’t a flashy paint job on their very worn vehicle, but rather a lot of hard work.
Perhaps the problem for the federal Liberals is that after the long stand in power under Chretien, they have come to assume that they have done what is needed to be given power.
The reality is that for the most part on many key issues, the Liberals have grown apart from Canadians. The ideas that we can spend our way out of any problem, or that big government offers all the solutions doesn’t appear to be resonating well with Canadians.
Besides, if Canadians want a big spending government, we already have one. The federal Conservatives are spending like Liberals in many ways. I digress.
Even in Thunder Bay, many politicians are starting, or should be starting to figure out that massive spending projects that do not generate long-term jobs are only serving to make taxpayers frustrated and angry.
For the Liberals the path back to power starts with the party grassroots taking back the party from its inner elite. That means putting together the policies that Canadians really want, not pushing inner political agendas.
In many ways, the best thing that could happen to the Liberals would be for the party to force an election as soon as possible. That way they could lose, replace Michael Ignatieff as leader, and start the real rebuilding process.
Bluntly put, after a majority term in power, following on several years in power already, it is likely that the Conservatives will also need a political re-tooling as well.
There are no fast easy solutions in politics. Right now the Liberals have spent five years mired in smug infighting, and leaders who really don’t understand Canadians.
Any Liberal who honestly believed that Stephane Dion really understood the entire country and would be a great leader, likely believes that Michael Ignatieff resonates well with the common man too.
Therein lies the real problem for the Liberals. They have really lost their political direction, and simply seem to believe it is their political destiny to rule Canada.
Voters can see through that arrogance. Until Liberals understand that, it is likely that they will continue to struggle in the polls, struggle to raise funds, and continue to seek false idol solutions.
That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.