Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stuck In The Middle With You

As it is with us on the right, there are two basic types of progressives- those for whom the goal is a more equal society- the Principled Progressives, analogous to Principled Conservatives- and those for whom power is the only goal.

The first group are the workers who are deeply committed to ideals. They truly believe that it is possible to create a world where poverty, racism, and oppression are no more. And the other group are the ones who pay lip service to these same goals while profiting off the labour of the na├»ve fools who truly believe.

When lefties look at something like the drama unfolding in Ottawa over the so-called "backbench revolution", they don't quite know what to do with themselves. On the one hand, the prospect of Harper's MP's rising up in rebellion and causing a caucus split thrills them. On the other hand, their progressive ideals (in theory) make it all but impossible to disagree with Harper for cracking down on his party's pro-life faction.

How can any honest progressive not at least nod their heads in agreement when Harper says he isn't going to reopen the abortion debate? These progressives may loathe Harper, but for them their convictions come first. So when Harper is right (for them, on this one issue), he's right.

And yet the other group of progressives have no trouble criticizing Harper for being a dictator and stoking fears of the hidden agenda at the same time. Because for them, anything that embarrasses Harper is a good thing.

Now here's the thing. When the federal NDP has problems with its own caucus- such as Lise St. Denis and Claude Patry quitting for the Liberals and the Bloc, or Bruce Hyer sitting as an independent- these are not stories. (Did you go, "Oh yeah! Lise St. Denis! Bruce Hyer! I totally forgot about them!" when you read that?)

The NDP is, by and large, made up of Principled Progressives who decry the direction the party is taking, long and loud. But they are still progressives, so you'll find plenty of headlines about how the NDP is doing fine despite these little bumps in the road. Even though Brad Trost, Mark Warawa, and Stephen Woodworth are still members of the CPC caucus, somehow the narrative is that that CPC is less united than the NDP.

The idea of Harper's majority ripped apart by loose-lipped pro-lifers -factual or not- is just too good to let go of. Harper-as-dissent-squelcher is nowhere near as good, but people will buy that in a pinch if they have to. And while those Principled Progressives may nod their heads in support of Harper violently squelching dissent on the question of abortion, those nods is all Harper is like to get from them. Because whether he's pro-life or not, Harper is still a conservative of some measure and is therefore always fair game, even if it's an obvious damned if you do, damned if you don't. You just don't get any points from the left for meeting them halfway.

Harper will go down in history as the most hated PM of all time, regardless of what he does between now and the time when he is no longer PM. It will be like Thatcher in the UK. That will be his epitaph, as written by the overwhelmingly progressive consensus that is Canada.

The other big political news story of the week was, of course, Rob Ford. And while Ford is nowhere near as disciplined as Harper is, that doesn't mean media outlets like the Toronto Star aren't trying just as hard to put him underground.

Yeah, yeah. Ford causes a lot of problems for himself. But somehow- as Bob Hepburn himself admits in today's Star- lots of people agree with Ford when he paints himself as the victim of a conspiracy.

And do you know why that is? Because even though Ford is the architect of his own misery, and the Star is just doing its job as a paper, that does not change the fact that the Star loathes Ford, and all conservatives, so much, that the idea of the Star trying maliciously to destroy Ford is entirely plausible.

It is just possible- only just- that the Star wants to see all conservatives buried, and that Ford makes it easy for them to do so in his case, and that Harper makes it more difficult for them to do so in his case. Mealy-mouthed denials from the Star's editorial board will not convince that they are innocent in all this. The hilarious thing is- if the Star was honest about their desire to destroy Ford, more Torontonians would be likely to support them!

The Star hates conservatives. Progressives hate Harper. Nothing is going to change that. If Harper or Ford say 2 + 2 = 4, the Star and all the rest of the progressives are going to check their figures.

Now for the obligatory segueway into provincial politics. The big story in that arena this week was that the NDP and Liberals came together to cut auto insurance rates and stave off an election for another few months or years. Yippee skip. Meanwhile, the PC Party of Ontario trumpeted their policy papers for the 897th time and proclaimed loudly that they are the only party serious about bold ideas.

Does anyone remember why the Ontario PC's started out with these white papers in the first place? Because in the last election, everyone criticized them for having a half-baked platform with no serious ideas and taking the electorate for a bunch of fools. Now, a year and a half later, Hudak has all these serious ideas, and nobody wants to hear them. All anyone wants to hear about is cooperation, smiles, sunshine, "working together", "conversations", an end to "divisive politics", and kumbaya, and Hudak is "too aggressive" and "too negative."

Kathleen Wynne is looked at as the Great Conciliator even though an auto insurance rate cut is not going to do diddly squat when it comes to the deficit or the economy. During the 2011 election, however, Dalton McGuinty framed himself as the steady hand on the till on the economy whereas the PC's weren't that serious, and everyone seemed to buy that with a minimum of grumbling.

So, here is the takeaway from all three of these examples. Whatever the Liberals and other progressives are putting out is right, and anything conservatives put out is wrong. You can have a disciplined PM or an undisciplined mayor, bold ideas or Changebook, abortions or no abortions, good economies or bad ones, and it all amounts to the same thing in the end. And Canadians know it. Any excuse to dislike conservatives will do.

In the event that Liberals become supremely useless, Canadians will elect conservatives, but they will spend every waking moment disliking whatever they do. And when Liberals are elected, Canadians will spend every waking moment trying to avoid the realization that things are not getting any better. And so it will go, until we have Justin Trudeau as our Prime Minister, either implementing the Hugo Chavez method, or a continuation of Harper's policies, or both, or neither, and being praised by everyone for doing whatever he's doing.

Decades before I was born, Tory leader Robert Stanfield was whining about how he could have walked on water, and the headlines would read "Stanfield can't swim." Even back in that primitive era, our forefathers had grasped that the playing field wasn't exactly level, but they decided to do the honourable thing and wait for the Liberals to combust instead of taking control. Then, as now, the Liberals do what they do, and we do what we do, and the results are what the results are.

Now, if everyone is happy with this state of affairs- with waking up every single morning to Toronto Star headlines and the endless progressive grind in all its forms- then I guess I have nothing to complain about. I guess Kathleen Wynne is right, and it's all about smiles, sunshine, positivity, and having conversations.

I guess she's right about writing off conservative opposition as passive-aggressive whining, too. She would kind of have to be.

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