Big Red Machine

A late 20th Century adaptation of the “Big Blue Machine,” this time in reference to the Liberal Party of Canada.

The term reflects the Liberal Party’s impressive electoral track record in the 20th Century – winning 19 of the 29 federal elections from 1900 to 2000, and forming government for almost two-thirds of the century (see Natural Governing Party).

In particular, it refers to the seeming lock the Liberal Party had on the federal government with Jean Chrétien’s three back-to-back majorities, and the ensuing majority for his successor, Paul Martin.

However, as is often the case, the moment when such popular conceptions gain broad currency is when they stop being true. The Big Red Machine was undermined by a combination of vicious infighting, hubris, and voter fatigue. Since the Liberals were defeated in 2006, they have struggled to regain their footing, doing progressively worse in each election before sliding to third party status in 2011.

The Big Red Machine is also the title of a 2005 book on the Liberal Party by University of Toronto political scientist Stephen Clarkson.

Image source: Wikimedia

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