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American Democrats, Take a Lesson From Canadian Liberals

11/03/2014 12:33 EST | Updated 01/03/2015 05:59 EST

The midterm elections are this week in the U.S., and everyone is in agreement that the Democrats are about to lose many of their Congressional seats to The Republican Party. This is especially embarrassing when you consider that The Republican Party has essentially no leadership plan, no issues on which it is running, and no recent successes in government to stand behind.

Yet Americans are about to hand seats to the GOP anyway.

Much of this could be blamed on the ignorance of the average American voter, quick to vote against his own self interests and more likely to believe his AM radio than actual facts. Much of it could also be blamed on a two-party system, where people unwisely hope that somehow the very party that broke everything will suddenly know how to fix it a few short years later.

Mostly, the blame for the Democrats' big loss this week actually rests squarely on the shoulders of... the Democrats themselves. This is a party that is successful and yet so oblivious as to how to capitalize on that very success. This is a case where the Democrats could really stand to learn a bit from liberals in Canada.

The numbers reveal that Obama is a successful president. Unemployment is down, Wall Street is up, and Obamacare is even a success in red states. Everyone from Forbes to Rolling Stone just reported the numbers. Yet, rather than commit to letting voters know the truth, or maybe just proudly defending the successes of their President, the Democrats are actually distancing themselves from him and, as always, trying to woo voters they'll never get.

But it's always been this way.

In the 90s, thanks to AM radio, Republicans managed to make the word "liberal" a slur. Rather than stand behind the word (and what it means), Democrats began insisting they were "moderate" or -- laughably -- "also conservative". They half-assed adopted Republican traits in an attempt to seem less hippie and more Don Draper. The result wasn't that conservatives suddenly voted for the Democrats, but rather that the centre moved further to the right. Actual Liberals stayed home or voted for what they saw as "the lesser of two evils".

Meanwhile, Liberals in Canada stuck with the "L" word. Rather than try to cater to the rubes who would vote for the very party that hurts them the most, Canadian Liberals sought out... more liberals. What they found (and still find today) was that voters exist who think just like they do. Without a Liberal party, these voters don't suddenly turn conservative; they simply don't vote.

Democrats have too long been courting the wrong voters when they should have been courting the people who aren't voting -- or those they long ago lost. That's the guy who will never vote Republican, just like that AM radio listener who will never vote Democrat. Go get him back as opposed to wasting time on that ignorant "undecided" voter who is always switching back to The GOP every few years. He's just not that into you.

Every election, we hear about how young people aren't voting. Studies and polls show that younger people are far more liberal than current and likely voters. Yet when asked, many would-be young voters insist that neither party represents them and that both parties seem to be about the same. Take out many social issues and they often are. Both seem hell-bent on trying to convince voters they like middle-of-the-road policies and vague promises of low taxes and rhetorical "jobs" talk.

Young voters, however, are more likely to care about income inequality, social issues, rebuilding infrastructure, healthcare, education reform, and actual jobs programs. These are the very things Democrats could run on, and yet they aren't catering to the very likely voters who care about them. They're too busy pretending they're "Republican Lite" and catering to people who wouldn't vote for them if it were suddenly 1955 again.

In Canada, Liberals don't try to convince Conservatives they think alike. They try to find other Liberals and actually enforce Liberal policies. There's already a Conservative party, so why run opposite them if the goal is just to be a different version of them sans a few social issues? There's already another party doing that anyway.

Hey Democrats: You've got an economy that has recovered and managed to avoid a depression, the deficit is down by two-thirds, unemployment is down, Wall Street is booming again, and your healthcare plan is actually working. Why would you distance yourselves from that while trying to pretend to be like the party that couldn't accomplish any of it? Why be so successful with issues such as gay marriage and women's rights if you're only going to try and lure voters who would just as soon do away with both?

Here's some cold water in the face, Democrats: You're never going to get the evangelical Christian vote. You're never going to get the banker vote. You're never going to get the social conservative vote. You're never get the gun lobby vote. And you're never going to get the vote of the FoxNews viewer or the Limbaugh listener. So, stop trying to cater to them.

Instead of distancing yourselves from liberalism, embrace it. Americans consistently show themselves to be far more liberal than either party realizes. Stop trying to pretend you'll ever attract a voter you shouldn't want anyway. Instead, attract the people who aren't voting. This doesn't just mean young voters, but also those who are disenchanted with both parties because they see them both as two sides of the same coin.

It's absolutely possible. Bernie Sanders in Vermont is probably as Liberal as they come and he's beloved all over the nation. What on earth makes any of you think he'd be alone? You need more than one Elizabeth Warren; you need an army of Elizabeth Warrens.

But, instead, Democrats will continue to distance themselves from a President far more successful than his predecessor. And Americans will show up to vote in the party that somehow still stands behind that failure. For that, Democrats get exactly what they deserve. There are people out there who aren't voting, but it's not because they're lazy. It's because no one is speaking to them. If the Democrats won't stand up and proudly represent them, they deserve to lose to the party that never wanted to in the first place.

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