" ... with the election of Stephen Harper, everything changed. No prime minister in Canadian history has come to power with such a ruthless determination to implement an agenda so at odds with the interests of the country and the values of its citizens. This involves not just a set of policies aimed at eliminating the social and economic role of the federal government. It includes, on a parallel course, a determination to change the political culture of the country to one that either supports or acquiesces to that policy agenda. (The Governor General's Christmas message was about volunteerism and philanthropy, Harper's long-term replacement for the state.) Working in tandem, these two political streams, if allowed to proceed for any length of time, could effectively change the country permanently -- or at least for all currently living generations. Harper aims for nothing less.
If the NDP and the Liberals continue to do politics as usual, as if Harper is just another political adversary in a normally-functioning system, Harper is almost certain to win again."
'via Blog this'
From Murray Dobbin in The Tyee.
I'm not a consultant or a partisan operator or a veteran of political trench wars, so I can't really talk about the mechanics. What concerns me, frankly, is the way the challenge before us is framed, and ensuring that the danger we face is properly appreciated.
We're drowning in memes, overloaded with junk information, baffled with bullshit, and distracted by more Shiny ObjectsTM than you can shake a Perry/Brand divorce at. So it's no surprise that our critical faculties are frequently close to being overwhelmed. If we are to preserve our country and our national character, we need to cut through all that. We cannot harbour any illusions about the nature of the threat.
Which brings us back to the question of labels. In the runup to last spring's federal election, I suggested that we needed to move beyond labels. Perhaps I wasn't making the case as clearly and coherently as I should, and some readers took me to task in the comments for it, but in truth, the basic argument hasn't changed. The fact that we're now faced with a Harper majority makes it more urgent than ever.
Murray Dobbin's article is a catalyst for this because of its persuasive contention that if the two main opposition parties continue to do politics as usual, we're doomed. I really don't care if the Liberals opt for Bob Rae or the New Democrats pick Thomas Mulcair or whoever. It can be Krusty the Clown for all the difference it's going to make in stopping Harper's assault on our country.
Can we possibly make this any more clear, my dear Liberal and NDP friends? I'll cop a mea culpa in this regard for my own sophomoric attempts to milk this for cheap laughs, but if ever there was a time for progressive, unHarperist elements to coalesce, set aside differences and implement an effective and coherent opposition strategy both in Ottawa and through extra-parliamentary channels, that time is now. As Dobbin points out, by the time the next election rolls around, it may be too late.
Sorry to be harsh, Liberal friends, but you're a rump. You're pouring your time and energy into the arcane internal processes of a third party, and it's just not relevant any more. Your party bears just as much responsibility for enabling the corporatist, continentalist, free-trade, SPP, NAFTA, FTAA, race-to-the-bottom agenda as do the Conservatives. If you want to continue being handmaidens to the 1% and the international investor class, then toss your John Manley T-shirts and go join the Conservative Party. If you want to defend Canada from that agenda, then let go of your partisan attachment to an obsolete institution. It's been eight months, for Chrissakes.
Dobbin slaps the NDP around too, by implication, for inward focus and obtuseness. Of the current leadership candidates, he writes,
... only Nathan Cullen seems to understand the new political dynamic in the country, telling the Georgia Straight newspaper that Harper is a "clear and present danger to this country" ... His belief that the NDP must put the country ahead of its potential seat count is an important contribution to the leadership debate and the political debate in general.
It's a nice thought, but given the still-extant dysfunctions of our decaying, maggot-ridden FPTP system and the way partisan operators usually work, it's hard to be sanguine about the likelihood of that.
I could spend more time piling on and berating the NDP for downplaying its ties to organized labour (comrades, the corporate media's going to crucify you for that no matter what, so you might as well embrace it and the attendant class-conflict implications) and trying to play the Ottawa game according to the rules set by the Villagers (news flash, comrades: you're wasting your time), but in this context, that's arguing over place settings. By the time you've figured which is the salad fork and which is the soup spoon, Charles McVety will be Minister of Public Morals and Ezra IrreLevant will be president of the CBC.
OK? Can we get it together before the whole notion of extra-parliamentary opposition is criminalized?