Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Poisonous Partisanship

The despair is wearing off. And the anger is setting in. Shared, it seems, by several.

In the comments to last night's Totally Fucked post, Scotian writes:
The Dippers placed beating the Libs as more important than Harper and got what they were after, and in the process proved they are a party that places their own power and expediency ahead of their self proclaimed principles, in other words they are no better now than the Lib party they decried for this kind of behaviour for decades. However, somehow I doubt most Dippers will be willing/able to acknowledge this fundamental truth, how they can be so delusional as to believe otherwise I do not know but then I've never been a partisan of ANY party or leader despite the claims of many (especially Dippers) to the contrary.

And oh, look, Scotian has been saying it for ages. Dated May 4, 2010:
I have been saying since before Martin was beaten that Harper was the greatest threat to Canadian democracy out there because of his contempt for how we govern ourselves. I said back then that stopping him should be the most important thing for anyone of any progressive bent regardless of where they stood on the spectrum, but was I listened to? Nope, I was called a Liberal shill and flack by both right and left. I said back then that if the NDP really were a principles first party as they always had been prior to Layton's leadership they would have made common cause with the Libs to block Harper's rise to power and sustain Martin, that even a tired corrupt Liberal government under Martin would be less damaging than a Harper led government. Again, time proved me right in spades.

And you're right again, Scotian.

That's why it's over for me and Jack. And that was before I found out what a thorough-going flake he is.

Ruthless, relentless partisanship -- on all sides -- has fucked up this country but good.

Oh, and Jack? The Disaffected Lib has a few words for you.


Anonymous said...

You're focused on the symptoms, rather than the cause. It's not vote splitting between the Libs and the NDP that's the problem - it's the system itself that allows 40% to translate into a majority.

fern hill said...

Yes, of course, it's the system. But partisanship keeps any meaningful reform of it off the table.

Dr.Dawg said...

Fuck the Liberals and their blogosphere supporters.

Supporting the Liberals was partisan. Look where it got you. The NDP ran on principle and got 102 seats. The Libs, who fake left and run right, are reduced to a rump party, now once again leaderless.

Next election, with the Liberal opportunists in our ranks tell folks to vote NDP because the marginal Liberals don't have a chance?

Yeah, right.

We stood for something. The Libs stood for everything and nothing. "We aren't Harper!" they bleated. "They aren't Harper" the naive and gullible squeaked in response.

You all got what was coming to you.

Don't blame the NDP. Take a good look in the mirror, instead. Still like what you see?

Uncommoner said...

And partisanship is only going to INcrease with a relentlessly partisan PM and a relentlessly partisan Leader of the Official Opposition.

I don't see any reform coming for the next four years. Not unless you count Preston Manning's abomination of a populist movement getting their happy ending at last.

Scotian said...

Well duh it is the system, my comments were and have always been written the way they were because the system is set up the way it is, it is called dealing with reality as it is, not as we would wish/prefer it to be. I understand how FPTP works, I understand the dynamics it creates, which is why I have maintained it was to stop Harper essential for the NDP to act like Harper really was the greatest threat to their principles (which was no less than the truth), but by acting like he was no different than any old Canadian conservative of the past and instead spending at least to more time attacking the Libs even once they were no longer the government and the CPC was, well that helped in our system make Harper seem more mainstream/centrist. Traditionally in our system the PCPC and Libs would try to appeal to a large core of undecided/uncommitted swing voters (of which I was one) because both were within certain broad aspects relatively centrist in nature.

When Harper took over the PCPC he changed that equation, but kept that hidden from most Canadians that were not political watchers, and the fact the NDP acted like Lib Tory same old story still operated made the Harper CPC appear to be not too dangerous a vote for those unaligned centrist voters, indeed they ran from the NDP because the NDP has the history and rep of being a ideologically driven party which is not what these voters want governing (which ironically they got with Harper, and an ideological perspective even farther out of the mainstream Canadian views than the NDP ever had at that) this time out because they don't see that Harper is all that bad because only the Libs acted like he was, the NDP acted like he was no different than PCPC predecessors which if they were still the party of principles first they had been prior to Layton they most certainly would have raised the alarm bell about if Harper was that different.


Thanks for the use of my comments, indeed you can go back years at Saundrie and find the same points being made over and over, part of the reason I stopped posting at Saundrie (aside from the health issues of course) was that it got tiring saying the same thing over and over again on my own blog on the same points year in and year out. Well, I suspect I am going to be going away from the blogging scene for a while after this post election wrapping up period, what I warned against has happened, I cannot bear to watch what is coming in detail, and I have no choice to but watch in horror as unlike some I cannot move away even from my home Province let alone the country, and despite it all I would not because before all else I am still a Canadian (if not a proud one at the moment). Then again I may find the strength to continue on, who knows, but today I am feeling very discomforted to say the least...being Cassandra yet again has gotten really Really REALLY OLD!


I assume by principle you are including the Quebecois separatist pandering about opening up the Constitution , reexamining the Clarity Act and having soft separatist candidates running for you? Keep in mind that outside Quebec your party still did not exceed the high water mark in seats set by Broadbent, and it remains to be seen whether the Quebec result is more than a one election wonder. My problem with your party focusing on the Libs was because of how it aided HARPER, not because of how it hurt the Libs, you if you actually took me seriously should have understood that, but then I guess even you are too partisan to see such and instead prefer to believe what you want is reality instead of what actually is.

On that note I have errands to do. Thanks FH for your supportive words.

deBeauxOs said...

Disaffected Lib and others who are are pitching poo around like petulant chimpanzees are the ones being poisonous. Winning is so important to them that if Steve were to cross the floor to be their leader, they would lick his feet.

So they feel entitled to most of the votes engendered by the MASSIVE backlash against the Contempt Party & the BQ. Why? Because they're Liberals?

What are they going to do now, hold their breath until the NDP apologizes for running one the best political campaigns of their history?

Fortunately not all Libs are feces-flinging idiots; hopefully some will agree to work on a plan to strategically oppose the Cons and to limit the harm they can inflict upon Canada.

Had Libs heeded Scotian's advice to them, the party would not have been decimated. Many, many Blue Grits deserted the ship because being on the winning side is more important than anything else. (I altered slightly this paragraph because I read a comment in another thread where Scotian asserts he is not and has never been a member of the Liberal Party.)

Mandos said...

The problem is the continuous defensive action. Scotian and fern and others seem to completely neglect the story of how we got here.

I was a little bit sympathetic to the strategic voting argument before the vote itself, but ironically the outcome and the real story that lay behind it has ended that sympathy. It's not at all the case that strategic voting could have staved off Harper (and more importantly, what he represents) forever, because there were enough "Blue Liberals" who would have voted strategically to counter it, because strategic voting would have been designed to create an NDP-Liberal cooperation, and some Liberals REALLY AREN'T in favour of it.. And, lo and behold, there really were those pro-Harper Liberals, without whom Harper may yet have had a minority at best.

But the big picture is that the Reform movement had been steadily gathering steam since Manning started it, and every year it didn't gain power, the pent up fury merely built. The only thing that can counter (anti-)social movements are other social movements. How would strategic voting in a Canadian context or a coordinated NDP-Liberal anti-Harper strategy lead to the kind of social movement that wouldn't have just technically blocked Harper and his ilk, but actually turned them back?

No, Conservative voters (and everyone else) are going to have to lie in the bed they made and discharge the deep resentments with a stint in full control. I'm more convinced than ever that it was going to happen one way or another.

fern hill said...

Go read The Sixth Estate on how 'we' lost the election and what to do next.

Niles said...

Looks like the voters who did vote, voted for a 'hail mary pass' change to the social welfare side of the corporations vs people equation. Which seemed to scare alleged purple Liberals so much, they ran for the Conservatives, because they would somehow suffer less with the party looking to defund their own. And they rocked the boat back so it tipped.

Oookay then.

So, did people want the Liberal party to be way more...liberal...or not? I heard in both ears that the Liberal platform was too progessively weak, or just not bold enough, all campaign long. People seemed most excited with Ignatieff when he went off script and talked passionately, and then he'd go back on script and they'd sigh. They didn't find what they wanted and hit the 'protest' button that didn't simply spoil the ballot. Is it easier to be bolder if you aren't worried about actually winning a controlling sector of government?

61percent of eligible voters. It crept up a bit from last time...but not much. Not nearly enough. What are the age breakdowns? Where was the youth vote? Where was the XX vote? XY? WHY did Quebec go Federalist so thoroughly this time? I think there's one ripple the party loyalists may not be factoring enough. The majority of voters are not necessarily party loyalists. How many were undecided? Wasn't it 2 or 3 times the average this go around? How can you expect the "NDP" or "Liberals" to control the vote of people who would never bestir enough brand favoritism to even buy a membership?

I don't blame people for voting NDP or Liberal or Conservative or Green or. At least they voted. Many of them have given me an aneurism the way they voted, but dammit, they voted.

I don't blame the NDP for being happy to benefit from a national protest vote. I was around for Douglas and Broadbent. But being the opposition in a majority across from a party that has a callous record of slashing and burning the governmental tapestry of the nation while in *minority*, I can only wonder, what possible good can they really do to halt any RepubliConservative plans?

If the roles were reversed and the Liberals were the Opposition? What could *they* do?

What has any Opposition managed to do against a majority government? Can anyone apply anything enabling to our situation now?

The election is over. Done. Progressives of any degree poking each other in the eye amuses the Conservatives no end. I would prefer someone being able to come up with strategies on how to deal with what now looms.

Please? I could use the help so I stop sliding into comparisons with early 20th century Europe. I really liked the slogan "Women are a majority, don't give Harper one". Well, he has one. What now? What can be done now?

Much as I know there's a kneejerk reaction for people to say merge the 'left', isn't that just forcing voters to have fewer choices? Aren't voters resenting that already and just staying home? But short of that, if everyone sulks in their own corner, what changes?

Beijing York said...

The Sixth Estate summary of what went on is very good. But sadly, I think we are doomed to follow the US, where true progressive voices have no political clout.

Beijing York said...

Sorry to double post but this from a US friend made me laugh:

Aside from the Conservative win, it was a good night...but then, that's like saying "except for my leprosy, I'm looking rather grand."

Sixth Estate said...

Canadian politics is caught up in American momentum, for the moment, but I don't think anything is inevitable. The next four years are going to be harder than the last four years, but then again, it's easier for reform to happen in Canada than in the U.S., too.

True progressive voices already have no clout in the major media and in elite circles in Ottawa. The election didn't change that. We have four years to lay the foundations for a change on that. I'm not sure if we can, but I do think it's a fight worth having.

fern hill said...

Definitely a fight worth having.

Sixth: why aren't you on ProgBlogs? You've got a great blog but I forget about it. I usually start my day at ProgBlogs, see what the cool kids are talking about. ;-)

Nadine Lumley said...

To: Info Avaaz
Date: 2011
Subject: Election Reform in Canada

Dear Avaaz,

Canada is very interested if you would run a campaign based on the below:

Canada needs election reform as the majority of voters are not represented after voting. IRV is a slight modification to the current system. People are already familiar with strategic voting and it is essentially automatic strategic voting. It's already used in some US municipal elections. There's a referendum coming up on it in the UK (called Alternative Vote there.) If we win IRV we can try PR next round. It's the practical choice.

IRV is automatic strategic voting. It allows you to rank candidates. If there is a second instant runoff ballot, one of your choices will make it on. This system is superior to strategic voting because it:
a) takes the guess work out;
b) doesn't require any recruitment; and
c) stops vote-splitting 100%.

Although PR is used in almost all developed countries, there is fierce opposition to it in Canada and other Anglo-Saxon countries. It is portrayed as radical here. The mainstream media hates it. Even the Toronto Star is rabidly anti-PR. It has lost in 5 provincial designed-to-fail referendums. It is toast here. A better bet is a Layton majority. If we go "all in" on PR, we will end up with nothing and can look forward to many neo-Con majorities in the future.

I think the safer route is to got for moderate gains with IRV first, which will be hard for the media to kill. Then after Canadians get a taste for electoral reform we go for PR. IRV, although not perfect, will get us to where we want to go. If we risk all on PR and lose -- which has happened 5 times already -- then electoral reform is dead as dirt. Papers like the Toronto Star are already claiming electoral reform is a settled issue: "the people have spoken loudly and clearly and rightfully rejected it." (to paraphrase Torstar corp.)

Scotian said...

"I think there's one ripple the party loyalists may not be factoring enough. The majority of voters are not necessarily party loyalists. How many were undecided? Wasn't it 2 or 3 times the average this go around? " Niles May 3 2011 4:51pm

This is a very important point and underscores why I've been so harsh about the actions of the NDP leadership, because many of the voters out there are like me swing voters, but unlike me do not have the time or inclination to follow politics very closely and therefore only have a superficial read of the various parties and leaders. It is these voters that were not going to see Harper as outside the mainstream without a united front against him by both Lib and NDP leadership, that would hear Lib Tory same old story and take comfort in it meaning they still could vote out the Libs and put in the Cons because really they aren't all that different.

This is what partisans don't get (and I mean this of all party partisans, all brands) is that much of the voting electorate is not made up of partisans but swing voters, and therefore it is crucial that they be as informed as possible, and it is in the act of informing them about what Harper truly is where the failure truly exists, and the actions of Layton and his party are a significant factor in that! Which is what I have been saying over and over again for years!!!

I am different from so many of these voters in part because I have more time as a disabled person to track politics, and in part because I was raised in a very political family that spread the spectrum and was taught from an early age the importance of not just voting but doing so in an informed way and in understand the hows of how our system of government works as well as the who does it. Harper came on my radar screen because of his early Reform actions when I was examining that party to gauge its mettle back in the late 80s, which is when he first started to worry me again, as I've said many times in the past. However, because of that background I suspect I may have a more realistic appreciation for the Canadian electorate and it's actions that most partisans out there, because Harper did what he did in exactly the way I expected and warned against, and Layton aided and abetted him because while they are massively divergent in what they espouse as political principles they have always shared one common vision, the eradication of the Liberal party. Personally, I don't think that party is as down and out as some have already written it off as, it is not like they were reduced to two seats, and while yes they were massively diminished and lost some good MPs they also still have a if weakened national infrastructure and long term brand that while tarnished still carries a lot of cachet to it, and Layton has no track record in governing, is going to be useless as LOO (which is normal in majority scenarios for everyone after all) and has a Quebec caucus which is going to I suspect not only be more fractious than many currently grasp but also may end up tarnishing his party's brand because in his willingness to pander to nationalist votes in Quebec he may have replicated one of Mulroney's greatest mistakes.

to be concluded...

Scotian said...


My fears for Harper getting his majority always lay in that middle undecided voters deciding he wasn't as crazy as he used to sound anymore and the infighting on the left side of him and his party dividing the vote enough for him to run up the middle. Which is exactly what happened in the end, and while the Libs own part of the blame in putting up with bad leadership issues in their own party to pretend the greater degree of blame doesn't rest on the decision of the NDP leadership to pursue their electoral rivals more than the greatest threat to their core values and principles (while still claiming to be a different kind of party that places them first, which is another reason why I harp on this point, because that kind of blatant hypocrisy really gets up my nose, much the same way so called devout Christians call for hatred of all those that do not share their narrow sect's beliefs while claiming to be worshippers of the God of Love)is to allow them to get away with something truly disgusting in my books, revisionist history.

I am as I have always been a centrist pragmatic swing voter who pays attention to politics because I believe that an informed voter is essential to a healthy democratic system of governance. I have spent many years warning of how dangerous a Harper government, especially a majority government would be to traditional Canadian values and destructive to the national identity and long term survival. Dippers in particular had best pray that I am not as correct in those fears as I have been in how Harper would get there and what kind of man he would show himself to be in the journey (which he has after all, if we actually had a press that was willing to properly hold him to account instead of acting as they have over the past five years this outcome would have been far less likely, another factor in which the NDP failing to make Harper's downfall their top priority spills back in his favour because without that united front it made it far easier for the press to get away with treating things as politics as usual) because if I am as correct there by the time they taste any chance of governing there will be so much debt, so little money that the gutting of what few social benefits remaining they will be forced to do will make the Martin years seem the days of plenty, and the hollowing out of powers preventing any creation of new national social programs impossible.

Winning the battle to lose the war may be Layton's true political epitaph, for the nation's sake I hope that this time I am not Cassandra, but my accuracy over the last decade has unfortunately not left me with much confidence that I am finally wrong this time. For me this is a tragic time, a bitter time, and I suspect over the years of this majority government more of you all that are trying to be positive about the future will end up joining me here.

Well, the damage is done now, and Cassandra has yet again been treated like a pariah, branded a fool, abused and had her warnings called ridiculous, and still her warnings came true exactly as she said. I am so very tired of being Cassandra, the last ten years of it has really taken its toll on me.

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