Thursday, 5 May 2011

Towards a Post-Partisan Blogosphere?

impolitical has an interesting idea.
The internets will be this generation's Cité Libre, methinks.

Well, here's a site trying to get that going.

The Sixth Estate describes his effort:
I’m frustrated enough with the demonstrable inability of the major media to cover the important issues that I’m starting a little experiment called the Sixth Estate Newswatch, will be a news service based primarily on blogs (left to right, but mostly just the sane ones) and hopefully will become at least as useful, if not quite as often-visited, as the raving climate change denialist running Bourque. Consider this a demonstration of just how utterly useless the mainstream corporate media is if it’s serious about settling into a role consisting entirely of rebranding AP and CP reports, summarizing press releases and soundbytes and the occasional leak or ATI request which comes its way with only the slightest pretence of genuine investigative journalism, and then offering meaningless commentary from Larry Solomon, he who says Canadians shouldn’t vote.

There are, of course, aggregators out there, but the political ones are partisan.

And we just saw how well this increasingly poisonous partisanship performed for the country.

Other bloggers agree: Orwell's Bastard, Just Another Willy Loman, and The Galloping Beaver, to name just a few.

Maybe it's time, as they say, to move on.

Alice Klein, one of the people behind the (unsuccessful) strategic voting site, Project Democracy, calls herself a 'passionate post-partisan progressive'.

But it is not just progressives who are dissatisfied with both the state of democracy and the mainstream media in Canada. After all, Fox News North was created on the pretense premise that media is biased. (Well, it is, but not quite in the way right-wingers think.)

After the last prorogation, we saw citizens coming together to form groups like Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament and CRUSH. In the CRUSH Facebook group, there were disgusted democrats of all stripes, but we managed to keep partisanship out of the discussions.

I, for one, welcome the arrival of a new post-partisanship.

Who's in?


Námo Mandos said...

I can't say that I'm in favour of the concept. Political parties are supposed to represent coherent political programmes to be converted into legislature. Post-partisanship seems to me to be an abandonment of the legislative field, or an attempt to separate the legislative agenda.

When it comes to electoral political and the Canadian system and circumstances, I would warn against a negativistic strategy designed to block a political programme we don't like. How does a post-partisan strategy come up with a coherent and relatively consistent positive vision?

Námo Mandos said...

(Sorry, double-post, my bad habit.)

The point is, it's the electorate's to choose bad and harmful choices even when the evidence for their error is available to them. This whole effort seems to be designed around fear of Harper---justified fear---but not a basis for constructing a long-term alternative that people will want. You can't stave off the crazies forever when they form a significant portion of the electorate itself, so basing a "post-partisan" strategy around that seems short-sighted.

fern hill said...

I don't want to disband parties. I want to go beyond blind partisanship by citizens and bland reporting in the media.

Dan Gardner today points out that the people of both Canada and the US are largely centrist in their views. But uber-partisanship -- demonizing the other, simplifying issues into slogans -- has split the political scene like never before and winds up serving no one but the corporations.

I don't know. I just want a return to good government acting for the people, informed by facts, and unbeholden to non-people.

Beijing York said...

Political parties are supposed to represent coherent political programmes to be converted into legislature.

Very true. Unfortunately it's been a long time since we've seen an election campaign based on this principle. First there was the punish the scandalous LPC at all costs that brought in the first Harper minority. Then there was the "Presidential" campaign that pitted "not a leader" Dion against "trust me and my blue sweater vest" Harper.

As for this election, it was pretty content light, again. People focused on party leaders and many just did not trust or like Ignatieff. Harper's pre-election ads didn't help but neither did the LPC's own handling of the situation. From an outside perspective, the optics of stabbing your own leader in the back and assuming the reins of power without an election smacked of entitlement and double cross. Layton benefited from the focus on the leader this time around. He came across as energized, down-to-earth and kind.

Sixth Estate said...

Well I don't know about taking my experiment newswatch as the best example of what is to come (I said it was a small experiment for a reason), but the concept I think is a good one. Namo, it certainly isn't my intention -- and I can't speak for fern or others but I don't think I'm alone here -- to say that political parties shouldn't exist. They should, although they should in my opinion be weaker than they are now.

What I am talking about is political coverage, not just politics itself. I have simply challenged myself, and others, to consistently cover and discuss politics from a position that isn't rooted in partisanship or, equally importantly, in the sort of horse-racing model of politics that media commentary frequently seems to boil down to as a result of partisanship.

I also don't agree, incidentally, about people being "centrist." I think it's quite silly to say that because it is simply shorthand for saying that people don't have strong views on many political subjects. But talking about "getting to the centre," "governing from the middle," etc. is not a useful discussion to have in the media.

But Canadian politics are not going to "abandon the centre." Gardner seems to say that Canadian politics are centrist because all the parties agree on "the basics" and are more interested in fine-tuning. Not only is this rather silly (where did these basics come from in the first place?), but it also makes it impossible to imagine how we could create new institutions like corporate tax or healthcare.

They weren't always there, after all. The fact that contemporary politics has descended to the level of fine-tuning and tinkering rather than grand vision isn't about "governing from the centre," it's about uninspired managerial politics by politicians more interested in clinging to the spotlight than in actually leaving behind anything meaningful.

Scotian said...

First, what BY said goes for me as well, and said well for that matter.

Second, a point I think needs addressing regarding the centrist thing, at least for me I see the center not as a static place but a dynamic place which has some variability, but tends not to swing not too far in any direction at a given time, that prefers good government over partisanship. Easily it is arguable this result is in part because of partisan fatigue from the minority Parliaments and saying fine Harper here you go put your money where your mouth is and provide good government from those that don't follow politics closely enough to realize the reality of Harper's true ambitions.

Indeed, the reason I have been irked with the way the NDP has handled matters is because it made it impossible for that element of the electorate to hear the language that accurately describes Harper as anything other than empty rhetoric, because they would reason that if it were actually at all close to reality then both the Libs and NDP would be united in stopping such a madman and since they clearly were not, indeed the NDP were saying still Lib Tory same old story why then Harper can't be that far out of that dynamic center despite what is being said.

Personally, I don't see partisanship becoming less poisonous anytime soon, maybe less intense because there is nothing that the opposition can do to stop Harper and because they won't be fighting electorally with each other for at least 4 years and maybe up to 5 depending on how long Harper goes, because remember you can hold office for up to 5 years in our system, not just 4. It has to be remembered that politics is the tool by which we apportion and reapportion power in our society to regulate and create social infrastructure without violence, it is not something inherently designed for less partisanship, especially if it becomes reduced to a binary shape but even in a multiparty context it is an inevitable element of the equation.

For me I was always an opponent of Harper and saying what I thought was the only way to stop this result from happening, not because I was a partisan of any party (and I maintain I was correct in what I was saying despite the way it has been branded partisan trash by elements that can't handle their responsibility for this reality because they were so lustful for power they placed getting it over the national welfare and especially over the principles they claim to care so much about), and I still am not a partisan of any party. I suspect though if I do decide to stay involved with politics (not a sure thing at the moment, I am not just tired but feeling exceptionally hurt and bitter about the way I have been treated as a Cassandra yet yet again in the full sense of that comparison, not just her foretelling but how she was treated for it too) I will not be doing so with the NDP, Layton has made that choice one I cannot stomach when he decided it was more important to beat the Libs when they were down to gain their place than it was to stop the threat of a Harper majority.

I suspect I will eventually withdraw again from the blogosphere and leave this for others once I have managed to vent enough of my pain at this entirely predicted by me outcome, because I tell you truly even now I still feel the tears in my eyes as I consider what reality we now have, and I will be DAMNED if I don't properly thank those I hold most responsible for this outcome before I go, especially since they don't seem to want to accept the bad along with their "good". I am a big believer that one must fair in assigning both credit and responsibility for things, and the Dippers too much want all the positive and none of the negative, well reality doesn't work that way folks, you got your wish of being ahead of the Libs finally, all it took was the selling out of the nation and progressive values by enabling the Harper majority to do it, so NEVER talk to me about how you are the party of principles first ever again!

Orwell's Bastard said...

Some long-winded thoughts on partisanship, centrism, and the New Media Initiative.

Luna said...

I'm in.

Post a Comment