I'd like to kick off 2016 by introducing you all to two very good friends of mine: JUSTIN and DUSTIN.
You might not know them personally but you might recognize something of yourselves in them.
JUSTIN and DUSTIN are about 25-30 years old and live in Ontario.
JUSTIN votes Liberal and is very proud of it while DUSTIN votes Conservative but is secretly kind of embarrassed about it.
DUSTIN posts articles about how Ontarians are getting ripped off on their hydro bills on social media. His conservative friends like and share but nobody else does. He tries to explain to people why their hydro bills are going up but since he doesn’t really understand why himself, they don’t really understand him.
JUSTIN isn't worried about things like the federal Liberals not meeting their end-of-year refugee targets or the fact that transit projects in the city of Toronto aren't on track, or that the provincial debt is still out of control. He understands that these things represent "investments in the future" that "will pay dividends for future generations" or something like that.
DUSTIN is a member of his local riding associations, which hardly ever meets, and of the Albany Club, where he pays lots of money to drive into Toronto and listen to speeches by well-connected Conservatives where they say things he already knows. He would like to become friends with these well-connected Conservatives so he can become a well-connected Conservative himself, but they are always “reeeeeeally busy.”
JUSTIN has a vibrant circle of racially diverse young friends who are proud to call themselves activists in their various communities. Some of them will rise to become important pillars of those communities and if anyone in those communities wants anything done, they will have to go through one of Justin’s friends.
DUSTIN has a job where he wears a suit and tie and is very concerned about his reputation because everyone around him is also concerned about their reputations. He doesn’t want to be seen as an activist or express any strong opinions because he might embarrass himself or lose his job. Despite this he constantly finds himself in situations where he has accidentally offended someone and must apologize.
JUSTIN doesn’t have what you would call a “real job” but that’s OK because he’s a full time activist. You might find him heading up a website demanding that ordinary people “have a right to know” what’s going into GMOs, or fronting a band that is dedicated to fighting white privilege. His network of fellow activists provide him with everything he needs: food, clothes, shelter, sex, what have you -- and he is happy to return the favour.
DUSTIN drinks Labatt beer, supports the Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, and Toronto FC, gets his Internet and phone bill through Rogers, and hopes nobody will ever ask him about that one time he took a puff on a hookah at a party.
JUSTIN and his friends smoke exotic forms of pot to deal with their anxiety, regularly tune into RuPaul’s Drag Race, legitimately see Star Wars Episode 7 as a step forward for cinema because it prominently featured a black male lead without making his blackness a thing, and draw cartoons that PERFECTLY explain consent which get reblogs in the six and seven digits on Tumblr.
DUSTIN appreciates that Canadians made their choice in 2015 to punish the CPC for taking things too far, but knows in 2016 they will realize the error of their ways.
JUSTIN’s faith in humanity and the American people is renewed by "Bob from Calgary"’s pro-taxation comment on the NYT website.
Do these guys seem familiar?
We'll check back in with DUSTIN and JUSTIN after a few months and see what, if anything, is new.
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