|The deadline to join the NDP and vote for Niki Ashton is August 17.|
Last night I saw something that shocked me, and today I did something I've never done before: I joined a political party. And I did it so I can cast my vote for Niki Ashton for leader of the federal NDP.
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I worked on Saturday, and was very busy, with zero time to check headlines or social media. After work, I was watching the Red Sox trounce the Yankees and idly tapping on my tablet, when I was stopped cold.
|Heather Heyer was killed when a Nazi rioter|
drove a car into the crowd.
I've been writing about the collapse of the US empire, the US becoming a third world country, the fascist shift, and so on, for a long time. It's not like the rise of the white supremacists came out of nowhere. And it's no surprise that police and local government allowed this to happen. So on the level of "this happened" -- no, it's not a shock. But emotionally, psychologically, even physically, the force and weight of it hit me. Men holding Nazi banners, chanting about Jews and Muslims. A peaceful protester and two others killed. Right now, in the country of my birth.
And from the White House, silence.
And from Ottawa, silence.
|White Supremacists surrounded peaceful protesters|
and attacked them with pepper spray and torches.
I watched the spectacle in Charlottesville, Virginia, and I felt sick. Not a figurative "this makes me sick," but a literal churning stomach, cold chills of fear, tears in my eyes. Wondering, What's next? Wondering, where are hundreds of thousands of Americans in the streets, shouting a huge, loud, collective NO! ?
* * * *
|Some people think it's funny that the Nazis used|
"tiki torches". I'm not laughing.
The truth is, in the US, there was no choice. There's the party of cats or the party of cats.
Of the many things that attracted me to Canada, one of the strongest was the presence of an actual, viable third party, a party that more closely represented my values. But in recent years, the NDP has been disappointing, to put it mildly. The party was using the same playbook that ruined the Democrats, moving farther and farther to the right, hoping to capture the so-called centre -- a strategy sure to lose before it even gets started. It's been depressing. My activism has never been around party politics and elections, and the NDP's rightward shift pushed me even further away.
But people's movements have surged in recent years. People are fighting back. Occupy, Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, The Fight for Fifteen -- activism around climate change -- the popularity of Bernie Sanders' platform -- union fightbacks -- all taken together, have created a groundswell. A context where real change might suceed. Where we might have hope.
And right now, in Canada, we do have hope. At last, there is someone running for NDP leadership who wants to recall the party to its roots: Niki Ashton.
From Ashton's website:
I am running because I believe we need a clear vision. We need fundamental change. We need to build the NDP as a movement for social, environmental, and economic justice.
The way forward for the NDP is clear. We must work tirelessly for true reconciliation with Indigenous people, for the protection and preservation of our environment, for working Canadians, for women, for people living with disabilities, for racial justice, for justice for transgender and non-binary people, for LGBTQ+ justice, and for the right to be who you are, and to love who you want to love.
We must build a political movement that connects with the many Indigenous, racialized, student, environmental and labour movements that are driving progressive political change. We must move ahead with a positive agenda that tackles rising inequality and climate change. We must build a movement that has the strength of the people at its core. We must unite, and build people-centred policy as our foundation. As a party, we need to embrace the thousands of activists across this country who have paved the way for our movement. Their fight is our fight, and together, we are stronger.Today I realized that I must help Ashton build that movement. I need to exercise whatever power I have, to vote for Ashton for leader and to urge others to do the same.
I want people to know that we are in their corner, with every decision we make. I want Canadians to feel at home in the NDP because they see themselves reflected in the values and principles we fight for every single day.
It is time to be bold.
It is time to create the Canada we know is possible — we must accept nothing less.
It is time to address inequality in a real way, with real action.
I know we can do this.
I know that together, we can build a movement.
August 17 is the last day to join the NDP in time to vote in the leadership election. You can do so here, from Ashton's own page, to show that you joined in order to support her.
Thanks to all my activist friends whose words and actions led me to this change! Solidarity always.