To the victor go the spoils; fortune favours the bold; who dares, wins. These are just a few of the idioms that convey the enduring connection between victory and audacity. Triumph is often a kind of retrospective blessing upon the prophets of action whose visionary deeds favourably shape the arenas in which they struggle. Those who would win must first have the courage to believe.
Regrettably, our Prime Minster is a rather stunning example of this phenomenon. A drama teacher with a famous father, he faced off against a competent and experienced rival in Stephen Harper and was richly rewarded for his boldness. Like the previous president of the United States, Trudeau was an embodiment of aspiration instead of experience, and like that same Barack Obama, Trudeau was a fresh face on old ideas: a hard-left ideology which is combative, unapologetic, and laser-focused on cultural issues.
Three recent anecdotes illustrate how Trudeau roughly shapes our nation conversation, nudging and pushing the people he serves towards the political positions he desires. The most egregious and coercive example, of course, is the “attestation” of social liberalism now required of applicants for federal funding for the government’s summer jobs program, an ugly example of Canadian McCarthyism which the media should have excoriated. Trudeau’s push to legalize marijuana is yet another case of a radical progressive project being rushed through our parliamentary system. The third example is trivial but telling: during a vaunted cross-country listening tour, Trudeau interrupted a questioner who used the term “mankind” and encouraged her to say “peoplekind” instead – a correction which was aggressively played off as a joke thereafter. If this was, indeed, a joke, it is the kind that will occur twice: first as failed comedy, and then in the form of a speech code which will be humourlessly and ruthlessly enforced.
In any other context, Trudeau’s harassment would be cause for outrage: he is, after all, the scion of a patrician, enlightening the fools he leads (but does not gladly suffer) with disdainful and high-handed cajoling. But, because this particular arrogant male is a doctrinaire man of the left, the Prime Minister is lauded as a feminist (even when those to whom he “leans in” are women).
While Trudeau’s behaviour obviously offers no example of good etiquette, his confidence should give Canadian pro-lifers food for thought. Trudeau has calculated, rightly, that his assaults on the social order will go over with minimal controversy: his outspoken ideological allies will give his radical agenda sufficient cover, and only universal opprobrium – of the kind, for example, that greeted his famous “peoplekind” correction – will prompt any qualification or explanation. And so the relentless march of “progress” continues.
Trudeau’s causes advance because he knows that he and his cheerleaders in the media can shame any opposition into silence. A true believer in radical causes, the Prime Minster assumes that any righteous indignation that his policies elicit will be constrained by fears about decorum and respectability. In other words, Trudeau knows that his political foes are too embarrassed by their own positions to defend the country they claim to love.
Let us be grateful that abolitionists were not overly concerned about the good opinions of slave owners or that lovers of freedom in the 20th-century – the century of communism and national socialism – were similarly apologetic in fighting for their cause. And let us, by the same token, ask the politicians that we send to Ottawa and our provincial capitals to stop saying sorry for their opposition to prenatal infanticide.
Politics, it is often said, is “downstream for culture” and the formula is true enough. But this truism should not be taken as a counsel for quietism on the part of social conservatives – especially socially conservative political leaders: for political culture is a crucial tributary stream which flows into our national conversation, a fact that Trudeau demonstrates almost daily. He clearly has the courage of his own radical convictions; why should confidence and courage be only on one side of our current culture war?
Opposition journalists in the media have long fed themselves on the shadows of their own fever-dreams, listening for non-existent dog whistles, and dreading the “hidden agendas” that they imagine into existence. We, for our part, reinforce this fantasy whenever we let our own convictions mix with the projected shame of our opponents. We should, instead, answer their paranoia with confidence and courage. We are pro-life, pro-family, and we are proud of our commitments to time-honoured values and God-given truths.
The waves of scorn will come. The conventional-wisdom mongers in the media – who will never be won over by the compromises that they themselves encourage us to make – will be especially shrill in their opposition when they hear us make our arguments in public. But fortune favours the bold and, should we persevere in our just cause, we will be duly rewarded for our audacity.