Musings —05.27.2010 07:20 AM—
…not by me, but by regular reader Tim. What do you think of what he has to say? After what has happened in the U.K. in recent days – and after no less than Stephen Harper did the same thing a few years back – is unity the way forward?
Feel free to comment. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately.
You will campaign, and fail again, to form a stand-alone Liberal government.
Until progressives arrive at the same difficult but necessary decision conservatives did in the 2000s, namely that their narcissistic small differences are less important than fielding a political force capable of winning power nationally, the Tories will win by default. You won a bunch of really easy elections in the 1990s in just the same fashion, Warren. It’s not a coincidence it took the unified right exactly one full election cycle to win power once McKay broke his promise to the PC base and allowed the once-proud party of Sir John A. to be subsumed by the radical Western right.
You just can’t have one half of the ideological spectrum divided 3 ways in English Canada and four ways – if one includes the Bloc – in Québec. Our dysfunctional electoral system simply doesn’t permit it. When you also factor in the massive, permanent cash advantage the Sorries enjoy, their complete partisan control of much of the mainstream media, and their ruthless style of politics, the picture becomes even grimmer.
I’m not even necessarily calling for a merger or formal coalition, but the mentality in both camps MUST change. This is a fundamental prerequisite for any real change in this country.
The days of Liberals laughably calling the NDP ‘irrelevant’ when it wins nearly 3 million votes each election and holds seats, including relatively secure bastions where strong MPs are firmly ensconced, in every single region of the country, in Montréal and Alberta and across Ontario is an offensive joke. Similarly, the days of New Democrats farcically portraying the Liberals as reactionary criminals who’ve accomplished nothing for Canada – suggesting that they’re no different from the Tories must end.
Both are crude, counter-productive and frankly, inaccurate stereotypes. Both parties have contributed in different but immeasurably valuable ways to this country and its evolution. It’s the compassionate society that our respective heroes and heroines, be it McPhail or King, Douglas or Trudeau, Broadbent or Chretien, built together which are under sustained and increasingly effective attack by this Government each and every day.
Politics is a competitive business, and when you’re fishing in the same pool there’s sure to be conflict. I for one, though I am proud of my own party, am damn sick of sniping at other progressives over petty bullshit rather than working towards a government which can actually deliver on the tremendous and enduring promise of this nation, a goal which comes to seem less attainable every day Harper remains in office.
If there’s no mandate to even talk, there should be.
Think of it this way: both Liberals and New Democrats love to secretly envision themselves as inheriting the Canadian mantle of Obama. Thusly, Grits say: ‘clearly we’re Obama. We’ve won national power and, like the Clinton democrats delivered moderate and effective progressive government which cut spending but preserved the most important social programs people need.’
New Democrats, by contrast, think: ‘clearly I am the the Obama. We’re about real change and putting ideas on the agenda which wouldn’t otherwise be there on behalf of interests which wouldn’t otherwise have a voice. We fought the great battles for health care, women’s rights, choice and secure public pensions before it was popular. We’re outsiders who promise to shake up a patently crooked system and deliver change.’
The division between experienced establishment Democrats, represented by Hillary, and outsider insurgent Democrats, represented by Obama in the 2008 nomination fight closely mirrors the divide between Liberals and New Democrats today. They fought it out on experience. They clashed on the issues. They even got personal. At its worst, it was downright nasty.
But once grassroots progressive finally endorsed President Obama’s candidacy, by democratic means, they all focused on what matters: fielding the best possible candidate and winning the national power needed to enact a progressive agenda conducive to the interests of an embattled middle class and the restoration of America’s proud voice in the world. They’re not perfect but imagine the alternative. (read: Palin)
I recognize the differences between our systems and political cultures, but the fundamental analogy holds: if Clinton and Obama, offended as their considerable sensibilities may have been after a bitter nomination fight, had committed to working at direct cross purposes throughout the actual campaign, President Obama would be unemployed and Republicans would still control the White House. No health care reform. No controls on corporate greed. No accountability for BP (debatable anyway.) But they realized the nation’s interest transcended their narrow political interests and personal vanity.
Sorry for the interminable rant, but these questions have weighed heavily on me of late. I know progressive Canadians around the country feel the same way. I close by suggesting there’s a reason Tory hysteria reaches its highest crescendo when talk of coalitions and purposeful cooperation on behalf of the Canadian people arises: it’s because this is what they fear most, and what alone can politically destroy them.
UPDATE: I’m with Rae. All the way.