Preston Manning: Beyond Left and Right


Much of the current commentary on North American politics is still expressed within the old left-right centered conceptualization of political ideology and political parties.

Both the Biden Democrats in the US and the Trudeau Liberal Party in Canada have accused their main opponents of being “right-wing extremists.” Conservatives in both countries have accused the federal government of too often “serving the left”. Political “moderates” in both counties claim to represent an ever-changing and unclear “centre” marked by being “neither left nor right”. And political pundits of all stripes overuse the terms left, right, and center despite their declining relevance.

Canadians, especially young Canadians, rightly question why we insist on discussing 21st century politics within the conceptual framework of the 18th century. Why should modern politics be conceptualized within a framework derived from his 18th-century post-revolutionary parliamentary seating arrangement in France? left?

Is there a more rational and appropriate framework for conceptualizing and discussing contemporary North American politics? Yes! And ironically, that is the framework proposed by Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous book Democracy in America.

These words by De Tocqueville were written in 1840, but they provide a stunning picture of the political climate in North America today.

“[T]He is the secret propensity to control the factions of America, … (these are) the two great divisions that have always existed in the free community … One purpose is to limit the authority of the people, the other One purpose is to extend the authority of the people. …I find it easy to detect that aristocratic or democratic passions underlie all political parties, and that while they escape superficial observation, they are at the heart of all factions in the United States. I affirm that I am a soul.

Alexis de Tocqueville
Portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville by Théodore Chasseriau, 1850. (public domain)

And I might add about all the political factions in Canada.

Today, it is far more appropriate to categorize North American voters as “pro-establishment” or “dissident,” rather than as left, right, or centrist. Are you in favor of limiting or increasing the influence of ordinary people in the political arena?

Today, the “aristocratic passion” exists politically, not in the wealthy old aristocratic societies, but in thinking it is superior to the average electorate, and at every opportunity condemns the bottom-up expression of political opinion. , exists in an intellectual aristocratic society that tries to limit Rather than expanding the authority of the people.

At the same time, the “democratic zest” is a new breed of voter that draws support from a growing segment of voters who feel increasingly disenfranchised by the political system and the elites who control its ruling heights. It is expressed through political leadership. These voters see their views labeled as politically incorrect or their interests ignored or neglected as misplaced populism. I resent being insulted.

Canada now has a prime minister who represents the modern political nobility. He tends to demonstrate his imagined intellectual superiority by preaching a rattle at every opportunity, ready to limit the “authority of the people” as much as possible. But now, Pierre Polivre’s rise to leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada has created another leader born out of humble circumstances who tends to trust, rather than trust, the Canadian public. . In other words, a leader fueled by democratic, not aristocratic, passions.

As a Canadian voter considering who to vote for in the next federal election, which framework best describes your options? Advocates of the aristocratic framework, of course, tell us that extending people’s authority is dangerous and leads to extremism. But that responsibility is best put in the words of Thomas Jefferson, one of the first drafters of the U.S. Constitution, when asked near the end of his life where the ultimate political authority in a free society should be vested. I can answer.

Jefferson replied: people themselvesAnd anticipating opposition from the aristocratic elite, he added: ”

Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times.

preston manning


Preston Manning was a member of the Canadian Parliament from 1993 to 2001 and leader of the opposition party from 1997 to 2000. He founded two of his political parties, the Canadian Reform Party and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. Both of these became official opposition parties in Parliament, leading to the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada, which formed the federal government from 2004 to 2015.