William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

Why the Liberals are Doomed (or, An Offhand Rant Thrashing Politics)

Dion’s failure to get out the progressive vote last week is, in my opinion, as much of a commentary on politics as it is on Dion.

The Liberals are doomed. Does anyone honestly think that Ignatieff or Rae or Tobin or (hey, we can hope) McKenna can just sweep in and lead the Liberals back to victories? Not a chance.

If you have to put me on a two-dimensional linear scale, I’m a “liberal,” but I don’t want to have to become a Liberal. I shouldn’t have to. Nobody should have to. Nobody wants the big tent anymore, except the neocons charlatans who are willing to sacrifice integrity for integration. Our very system rewards such integration and punishes individuality. Look how many independents just got elected to parliament. I count two. Out of 308. That’s, let’s see, 0.65% of the seats. Actually, it’s really more like 0.00%, as these mavericks will be rewarded for their independence by being shut out of parliamentary committees, and they will never have the chance to ask questions in Question Period. This is the real reason why Garth Turner joined the Liberals – of course, as soon as he did, the pro-Dion rhetoric came a-flowin’. (He was still, to his credit, open about their disagreements.)

I want to stress that I am extremely grateful that Garth Turner almost single-handedly changed the balance of information in this country. He informed countless common folk* (e.g.: me) about the ins-and-outs of Ottawa, and he had an admirable individualist integrity. Still, I can’t help but wonder if he really believed that the Liberals had a shot at winning, or that he even had a shot at his own riding. He demonized his opponent Lisa Raitt, perhaps rightly – maybe I should have taken that as a sign that he would go on to lose Halton by 7,800 votes. That’s eleven percentage points – I can’t call that close.

* - I’d originally written “ordinary Canadians,” but that’s a hackneyed, overused phrase. It’s also got a pandering quality that I don’t care for.

How many of you out there are happy with the outcome of this election? As a fellow CPA grad puts it, this election was a campaign of failure. And he said that before the polls opened. People are tired of the same old stuff.

Politics require too great a suspension of disbelief. No one wants to follow the puppeteer’s strings anymore. We have a new appreciation for individuality which stands at odds with the collective thinking that’s bred and protected by our political system.

The intelligent compassionates out there (to whom the Liberal party nominally caters) are sometimes smart enough not to bother with partisan politics and may be hard pressed to hammer down signs like sheep. “I’m blue!” “I’m red!” How inane is this?

Dion is presently noted for being only the second Liberal leader in history (and first since 1887) not to go on to become Prime Minister, but his successors will probably make him be merely the first of many. The Liberal leadership chronicle’s role as a list of Prime Ministers is over.

Let’s flip over to the United States of America, where they still have a mythos concerning the Presidency and presidential candidates. I have to admit that I’ve often bought into it too. Names like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Regan and Clinton are writ large across the pages of history. You experience emotion similar to a baseball fan rattling off the members of the 1939 New York Yankees.

Still, as this is the information age, I wonder if this could be the last hurrah in the US for cults of personality. I’m confident Obama will be a fair president, but I’m betting on incremental improvements, not sweeping changes. In fact, Obama is really promulgating a return – going back to things that work, like living within our means**, both personally and governmentally. He will take steps towards ensuring universal health care (coverage), though I suspect if he really wants that he may end up having to nationalize their whole health care system in order to get it. They might as well; they might spend less money at the end of the day: Canadians spend 10% of their GDP on health care while USAmericans spend 15.3%, so even if the government isn’t paying, somebody is. Why let all these insurance companies be middlemen? Universal health care is nothing new either; to say it is widely practised would be an understatement.

** - As early as 2004 I wondered what was going to happen in a climate where people weren’t paying their bills and borrowing more and more money. Now I know.

Rant: By the way, people should stop borrowing great gobs of money to buy homes. Due to demand driven by people who had banks willing to finance them, the prices went up and up and it got to the point where the only way to by a house was to borrow those great gobs of money. Things should be worth what they’re worth, and people should be able to buy a house outright after saving for, oh, fifteen years: $10,000 X 15 = $150,000, a sum of money that should be sufficient to buy a house! I’ve saved $4,500 so far from my crappy job, and those of you with half decent jobs and no dependents should be able to squirrel away $10K a year if you budget carefully. (Hint: Don’t buy the plasma TV.) Anyway, it’s being established that you can’t support both 1) universal home ownership and 2) reasonable entry prices. It might be best not to support universal home ownership – a full-blown house should be an estate, a privilege. The rest of us should camp out in nice apartments (or, more likely, in our parents’ basements) until we can afford the dang things, if we even want them. End rant.

Anyway, expect incremental improvements and a lot of pain (or, if McCain wins, even more palin). While it’s all well and good that the free world is getting a change in leadership, somehow I feel uneasy. To wit:

- Why do we still need leaders?

- Why do we blindly accept institutional control over our lives?

- Why do we proclaim voting as some sacred democratic panacea? Selecting “A” or “B” (or, in the case of Canada, “C,” or “D,” or “E”) while cloistered in a box doesn’t equate true democracy. It’s barely even a mandate for ‘representation’ – and this is besides the utterly arrogant presumption that we need people to make decisions for us, as if we are not informed or not intelligent enough. Maybe I don’t want this brand of ‘representation.’ And what kind of idiot must I be to expect that any politician will put my interests ahead of his own? Of course he won’t, and maybe he shouldn’t even be expected to.

- What we have is better than what many other countries have to deal with, but the fact that our ‘system’ isn’t universally implemented betrays its severe flaws and its lack of adaptability. Too much depends on human nature and who has the money. Look at Russia’s implementation of “democracy.” Or just look at ours.

I’m not offering much in the way of answers. I leave that to each of you – perhaps if we all take charge as individuals, in the far future, with any luck, some or all of the questions I am posing here will become moot.

1. How we confuse symbols and things: Government (Paul Lutus, arachnoid.com)

2. Homer attempts to vote for Obama (The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XIX, youtube.com) This clip is a brilliant political commentary on its own. It’s also painfully close to reality in West Virginia, where machines are switching peoples’ votes in early voting.

3. Adieu, boss (Garth Turner, garth.ca) Garth comments on his history so far with Dion and the Liberals, and makes a few predictions about digital democracy and political parties.

4. Now inside stories can be told (Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press, stcatherinesstandard.ca) Now we know why the television ads put out by the Liberals were negative and why there weren’t more positive, upbeat Dion ads - a large part of the party machine was in open revolt against him.
Tags: canadian politics, democracy, dion, governments, individuality, institutions, liberals, obama, politics, united states of america, voting

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