2.27.2007

don't thank jack

Have you seen this badge on certain Canadian blogs? Under a picture of Jack Layton, it counts the days of the Harper government and says "Thanks, Jack!"

Oh yes, Ralph Nader is responsible for the Resident and Jack Layton, of all people, is responsible for Harper.

This is so stupid.

The thinking goes, I suppose, that if the New Democrats had propped up the Martin government, we'd be basking in the sunshine of a Liberal minority government right now, instead of toiling under the dark cloud of a Conservative blahblahblah.

I saw one of these badges this weekend (not the one I've linked to), and it was all I could do to restrain myself from posting one of Idealistic Pragmatist's greatest hits: "Jack Layton's Sinister Mind Control Experiment", in which our Ideal-Prag takes apart this lame non-theory brick by broken brick. If you've never read this, do yourself a favour and do so now. I'll wait.

OK, you're back? Now, do you know what? If Canada had proportional representation, there wouldn't even be a Harper government. There'd be a centre-left coalition that more closely matches what most Canadians want.

On that, more from Ms I Pragmatist.
Jamey Heath's new book, Dead Centre: Hope, Possibility, and Unity for Canadian Progressives, makes five important points that every centre-left or left-wing Canadian needs to internalize:

1. Liberals tend to present the voters with laudable centre-left policies in their Red Books. But once elected with a majority--or, in Paul Martin's case, even with a minority--they veer right and refuse to deliver on most of their own best ideas. This has happened over and over again, and is undeniable.

2. When Canadian progressives are feeling anxious about the Conservatives, they tend to forget about the fact that they don't like what Liberal governments actually do, and vote Liberal indiscriminately.

3. Even worse, this tendency extends to ridings where the New Democrat has a better chance of winning than the Liberal, and so-called "strategic" voters end up electing scores of Tories in ridings that are actually Tory-NDP races.

4. Ontario is a region within Canada, not a microcosm of it--and while the Liberals may be the dominant choice of progressives there, this is not the case either in Qu├ębec or in the growing west. When we hear about the Liberals being Canada's sole natural governing party, forever and ever amen, that's Ontariocentrism talking, not reality.

5. Progressive voters who refuse to recognize these essential facts end up trying to exist in some warped universe in which Jack Layton is personally responsible for the Liberals' loss of their hegemonic grip on the country. This idea is not only demonstrably false, but because of #1, it actually perpetuates a situation that prevents progressives from getting what we want out of our government.

People who call for the NDP to become the left wing of the Liberal Party are forgetting one part of what makes the Canadian system so much better than the US system. Look south. Do you really want a two-party system? We need more parties, not fewer parties. And we need a system that truly represents the electorate's choice.

One bright day in the future, I'll be able to vote in this new country of mine. And you can bet your last loonie I didn't save all that money and wait all those months and quit that great job and give up that rent-controlled Manhattan apartment to vote for the supposedly expedient party over the party that represents my own values.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this: "And you can bet your last loonie I didn't save all that money and wait all those months and quit that great job and give up that rent-controlled Manhattan apartment to vote for the supposedly expedient party over the party that represents my own values."

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Well said. And thanks for the links. I said something similar to your last paragraph just before the last election.

if the New Democrats had propped up the Martin government, we'd be basking in the sunshine of a Liberal minority government right now, instead of toiling under the dark cloud of a Conservative blahblahblah.

The logic of even this is completely ridiculous, since Martin had said that he would call an election himself within thirty days of the final Gomery report. That would have given the Liberal minority government an additional two months of life before the exact same thing happened as what ended up happening in January 2006. It's just crazy.

MSS said...

If I recall correctly, the NDP did not even have the seats in the last parliament to prop up Martin had it wanted to. Nor, after the 2006 election, did it have enough seats, until the recent floor-crossing of a Liberal MP to Harper made the NDP exactly sufficient to "prop" (not that the party has actually done so).

On the (hypoethical) center-left government if Canada had PR, of course, if the USA had any other imaginable means of electing its president than what it has (or even if it had independent election administration with the electoral college as we know it), we'd have gotten the center-left government in 2000 that we voted for. (I realize probably no one reading this needs this lecture, but for the record...)

MSS said...

IP's comment came in while I was trying to get Blogger to recognize that I was not a spammer...

She makes a very good point on the planned post-Gomery election call.

redsock said...

Oh sure, bring facts into the discussion. ...

we'd have gotten the center-left government in 2000 that we voted for

Center-left? Gore? I'd call him center-right.

redsock said...

And I mean "center-right" as of 2000. Which 20 years ago = right-wing.

West End Bound said...

Love the last paragraph, and, as usual, IP's comments and posts are always on target . . . .

L-girl said...

Well, thank you! This seems to have resonated with more readers than I was expecting, so thanks all for your comments.

L-girl said...

IP's comment came in while I was trying to get Blogger to recognize that I was not a spammer...

Still having trouble, even without the word verification? Try logging in first, that will usually work.

MSS said...

redsock: I won't dispute what you said above about Gore being center-right, if we go by world ideological standards. However, in the highly right-skewed political context of the USA, yes, his 2000 campaign was center-left. (Although their graph refers to 2004, Political Compass gets it right, ro should I say correct.)

But I was making a deeper point. A clear majority of US voters in 2000 favored the Democrat or the Green. If we had majority voting for president (not plurality and not the electoral college) and/or proportional representation for congress, the Green vote would have been much higher, and we certainly would have had center-left government that people voted for.

MSS said...

Still having trouble, even without the word verification? Try logging in first, that will usually work.

Yes, logging in to my Google/Blogger account does make it easier! It took me long enough to figure that out. Please, excuse me, I am only a professor. I can't be expected to figure out practical things. :-)

L-girl said...

I love Political Compass! An excellent tool.

Yes, logging in to my Google/Blogger account does make it easier! It took me long enough to figure that out. Please, excuse me, I am only a professor. I can't be expected to figure out practical things. :-)

Playing to stereotype, that. :)

Yes, Google has made it so you really need to be a part of them to use their tools. Fair enough, I guess, being as it's all free.

sharonapple said...

The logic of even this is completely ridiculous, since Martin had said that he would call an election himself within thirty days of the final Gomery report. That would have given the Liberal minority government an additional two months of life before the exact same thing happened as what ended up happening in January 2006. It's just crazy.

Well, I could see why the Liberals would want to call an election after the second report. The first report was critical of the Liberal Party. The second report was more on governmental procedure,s o it makes sense that the Liberals wouldn't want an election called after the critical report. A nice gap, people start to forget about the first report.... I'm not saying that this should have happened, but it makes sense why they would want a delay.

sharonapple said...

If I recall correctly, the NDP did not even have the seats in the last parliament to prop up Martin had it wanted to. Nor, after the 2006 election, did it have enough seats, until the recent floor-crossing of a Liberal MP to Harper made the NDP exactly sufficient to "prop" (not that the party has actually done so).

Actually, the NDP did have enough seats to prop up the Martin government. At the time of the election, the Liberals and the NDP had 154 seats combined, which would give them control of 50% of Parliment... with the defection of Stronach, the Liberals and the NDP had 155 seats and therefore control of Parliment. So, the NDP could have kept the Liberals in power.

sharonapple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sharonapple said...

James Laxer had an interesting view on the whole general election:

http://www.jameslaxer.com/2006/08/neo-conned-how-ndp-fell-for-stephen.html

I think Laxer's extreme dislike of Stephen Harper influences the article. Anything less than pure socialism is an evil compromise in his view, and the idea of the NDP working in any way with the Conservatives probably sent his world off-kilter.

Parties are sort of an evil necessity, but I'm sort of leaning towards Satya Das's view that we should move beyond parties. Lately, politics is starting to feel like team sports, and there are too many loons or incompetants in the major parties (especially the Conservatives and the Liberals). If there was more of an emphasis on individuals than parties, people like Ralph Nader, Maude Barlowe, and David Suzuki, people who aren't interested in the game of politics but who want to change people's lives, might get a chance at leading. (Con: it might let people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Donald Trump, empty celebrities, a chance at governing too.)

L-girl said...

http://www.jameslaxer.com/2006/08/neo-conned-how-ndp-fell-for-stephen.html

And how many times has the NDP voted in line with Harper's government? Does zero sound about right?

I'm really sick of this canard.

* * * *

I don't think parties are an evil necessity, nor an evil at all. Parties are a convenient way of grouping some positions together into a package, so voters can distinguish among candidates. What's evil about that?

I don't buy that people unaffiliated with parties are therefore not interested in the game of politics. Some are, some aren't. There are many ways to change people's lives. Ralph Nader, David Suzuki and thousands of other people change lives without being elected.

Many people are very influential without being part of the official political process. Al Gore's current position is a perfect example of that.

M@ said...

I'm not affiliated with any political party, despite my strong views on many issues and, indeed, many parties. I'm probably going to volunteer my time in the next election campaign, too, even though I won't be joining any party to do so. (It really depends on the candidates that are nominated in my riding -- the Old Guard are falling away in my riding and it's hard to predict who will be on the slate.)

I guess my frustration is that I'm never really satisfied with any party -- that's what puts me in the 'necessary evil' camp when it comes to party politics. I tend to be centrist, maybe slightly left; that puts me on the Liberal side of things, knowing full well that they will cut off any leftist tendencies when they're in power (yeah, I admit I'm a sucker). I don't skew far enough left or right (read: authoritarian) to easily vote NDP, Green, or CPC. (Or CHP, for that matter.)

So I'm left choosing between centre-slightly-left alternatives. And I'll willingly admit that if I'm going to pick a side, it's going to be one of the sides on the left; talking to L-G and IP make it far too difficult not to consider the NDP, even though it hurts my sensibilities to do so.

But I guess what I'm getting at is that I understand and agree with this post, and IP's many great posts on the subject. I'm not stupid enough to be suckered by the talking points against the NDP. But maybe I'm being suckered in by the talking points that drag me further right than that.

You can bet I'll be thinking about all this in the upcoming election. And, oh yes, it is upcoming. I smell golf pencils in the air quite distinctly.

Let me say this, though: I'm not going to throw in the towel and join the politically disengaged. I'm okay with disagreeing with friends and family about what I ought to vote. I'm not okay with throwing away my vote on someone else's ideas, or on something I voted for before.

I used to say that if I was ever going to become a communist, it would be because of Billy Bragg. Now I'll add IP and L-G to my "blame" list. :)

L-girl said...

I tend to be centrist, maybe slightly left; that puts me on the Liberal side of things

Based on your comments here, I'd say you're quite a bit left of Liberal. Just my observation.

On your comment in general, I can understand you (or Sharonapple or anyone) being dissatisfied with party platforms and feeling that no one platform is exactly what you want. I don't understand how parties are evil.

I used to say that if I was ever going to become a communist, it would be because of Billy Bragg. Now I'll add IP and L-G to my "blame" list. :)

I'm honoured to be in that company! I've never considered myself a communist, only because I've never seen communism practiced in a democratic, non-authoritarian way. But if you're picking up some of my socialist tendencies - or perhaps becoming more comfortable with your own - I'd be very proud.

M@ said...

Oh, I meant communist in the least meaningful way... I don't think even Billy Bragg would want the term. But a more reasonable equivalent -- raving moonbat, leftard, what-have-you -- is of course quite scary too.

I wonder if I seem pretty left-wing these days as much because so much of the political discourse is framed, these days, by right-wing idiots. 50 years ago, would being pro-science be considered left wing? Or pro-constitution? Yet here we are.

My father probably wonders what's gotten into me, but even he's become more and more left-leaning over the years.

James said...

I love Political Compass! An excellent tool.

I just re-took the test for the first time in a few years. I haven't moved much:

Economic Left/Right: -6.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -8.00

Which puts me just out beyond Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama -- certainly the best company in their examples. :)

L-girl said...

Oh, I meant communist in the least meaningful way

Oops, I took you literally. I'm not afraid of the term like so many of my countrypeople. :)

I wonder if I seem pretty left-wing these days as much because so much of the political discourse is framed, these days, by right-wing idiots. 50 years ago, would being pro-science be considered left wing? Or pro-constitution? Yet here we are.

Yes indeed. I often say how I used to be a liberal, and now I'm a radical, and I haven't moved.

But actually, I have moved. The more I learn and the older I get, the more leftist I've become.

But I do think your orientation to the world, your approach to issues, is leftist. And of course I mean that in the best possible way. :)

Which puts me just out beyond Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama

I haven't retaken it lately, but I remember being pleased that I was hanging out with Gandhi and Mandela. Thanks, you've just given me an idea for a quick post, since I haven't had time to blog today.