Musings —05.26.2014 08:23 PM—
Franklin D. Roosevelt had the very best line of all. “Judge me,” said the 32nd U.S. President, “by the enemies I have made.”
It’s true, too. Politics is sort of the opposite of real life: in the political game, you are measured not so much by the quantity of friends you have, but by the quality of your enemies. If you want to be adored, and see your name chiseled onto the side of a schoolhouse some day, become an astronaut. Politics is a vocation for losing besties, not gaining them.
A corollary of FDR’s bromide, therefore, is this: people who go into politics wanting to be much loved by many people (Paul Martin, John Tory, come on down!) end up leaving it with neither – neither the love, nor the people. You end up as an unloved loser, mostly.
Which brings us, this fine Spring morning, to Gerald Caplan, Judy Rebick, Michelle Landsberg and several other old people you have never heard of, and hopefully never will. On Friday, it was revealed Caplan’s cabal had written a missive to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, saying that they were “deeply distressed” by the provincial NDP campaign. (The letter “was obtained by CBC News,” and everyone knows who helped them “obtain” it.)
“From what we can see you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes,” shriek Caplan, Rebick et al. “It seems in your rush to the centre you are abandoning those values and constituencies that the party has always championed.”
By the “constituencies that the party has always championed,” Caplan’s cabal meant them – that is, some surly, solipsistic socialist septuagenarians who wouldn’t know how to win a general election if their lives depended on it. They are nobodies, signifying nothing. They are – as the former Chief of Staff to Ontario’s only NDP Premier, Robin Sears, hilariously put it yesterday morn on CBC – “the grumpy caucus.”
Said Sears: they come out only at elections, claiming to be NDPers, to sabotage NDP campaigns.
The CBC, having exclusively “obtained” the screed from the hard-left losers, aggressively marketed it all weekend. But other media, including those who cover Queen’s Park daily, were unimpressed. “[A] quaint baby boomer drama,” tweeted Toronto Star bureau chief Robert Benzie. “Andrea Horwath probably wasn’t counting on much support from the CCF crowd.”
Exactly: the Ontario NDP leader was acquiring the right enemies. Horwath, knowing most of the votes are found in the political centre, has been aiming the NDP ship in that direction for many months, talking up balanced budgets and the need to make life less expensive for the average Ontarian. She’s been rewarded with a four-point boost in an Ipsos poll in the past week, while her opponents have either dropped or stalled.
But that’s not enough for Caplan et al., apparently. As Sears put it, they’re Presbyterian about their politics: they think salvation only lies in pain. They don’t wish to see their principles ever, you know, sullied by actual power.
All of this calls to mind a story this writer once heard about Stephen Harper. As he was labouring to bring together the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties, circa 2004, several emissaries were dispatched to warn him about his quest for power.
“You will never get Myron Thompson and Joe Clark to sit together!” said one. “You’ll lose them both!”
“Exactly,” said Harper.