The Corner


Right Here, Right Now

Stephen Harper in New York on October 9, 2018 (Jay Nordlinger)

Stephen Harper was prime minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015. He is a conservative, and a Conservative. For years, I called him the “Leader of the West.” Indeed, that was the title of the piece I wrote about him in 2013. This week, he is my guest on Q&A, here.

Harper is just out with a book: Right Here, Right Now: Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption. The title tells you the tale of the book, as titles usually should. Harper discusses populism, conservatism, liberalism, leftism, and the present moment.

Last weekend, he had an essay in Canada’s Globe and Mail, laying out the themes of his book. It was titled “Populism’s rise points to real problems in our world. We ignore it at our peril.” The most interesting sentence in the piece, I think, is this: “. . . the current populist upheaval is actually benign and constructive compared with what will follow if it is not addressed.” And what might that be? I ask him in our podcast: the hard stuff, i.e., Communism and fascism.

About his own time in office, Harper writes,

While our policies are now squarely in the history books, they can be used as precedents against those who claim our options are zero-sum. They are not. We do not face a stark choice of libertarianism or socialism, of free trade or protectionism, of global responsibility or national loyalty, of wide-open borders or xenophobia, of technology or irrelevance. Our experience demonstrates that it is possible to navigate today’s challenges successfully and without widespread social alienation.

Obviously, I talk about all this with Harper on Q&A. He is a very shrewd analyst of politics, in addition to a very successful practitioner of politics. (The two don’t always go together.) I further ask Harper about some other issues: Are Americans condescending toward Canada? Was Pierre Trudeau more of a red or more of a liberal? What about the encounter you had with Putin in Australia?

No matter your political views, you will want to listen to Harper, I feel sure, if you are interested in the political life of our times. Again, here.

A couple of other links, while I’m at it. Here is my latest Jaywalking. I talk about some serious issues — not excluding North Korea — and play some music, particularly of the loud variety. And speaking of music, here is my review of Puccini’s Golden Girl at the Metropolitan Opera. It is the most American of his operas (and yes, there are others, sort of).

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