Whatever the reason, the left-of-center blogosphere became quite fascinated last Tuesday with what amounted to a state legislative election in Canada—the provincial elections in Alberta, long considered the least progressive province in Canada. At one point, Alberta was actually trending on American Twitter during the course of the evening, and my own politics junkie-laden timeline was all about the goings on in ridings like Calgary-Glenmore* and West Yellowhead.
(*)—Not for nothing, but that one ended in a tie. A freaking tie!
Indeed, the final results were stunning. The reigning majority party, the PC's (Progressive Conservatives), went from having nearly six dozen seats in the provincial legislature down to—depending on the outcome of that tied race—10 or 11 seats. The beneficiary was the left-leaning NDP (New Democratic Party), which surged from four seats to at least 53 seats and claimed the majority. The PC had been in charge of Alberta since before I was born (hint: I'm, regrettably, in my 40s), and the last time a left-of-center party held sway in politics there was in the 1930s.
The most common reaction from the left-of-center commentariat in the States was somewhere between "can they come down here and teach us how to do that?" style snark and "this proves progressivism can win anywhere!" optimism. There were even tweets about this victory proving Democrats could sweep in the Deep South with the right message (Texas was cited most often, because oil), and more than one suggesting this is why Bernie Sanders can win in 2016.
More dispassionate observation, however, requires some serious admonitions for those convinced of such things to slow their roll. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Alberta is not Texas, or any other Southern state, and the NDP's once-improbable victory is heartening, but it is not a how-to manual for progressive victory in the United States. Follow me across the jump for the reasons why it is difficult to make that idealistic assumption.