Maybe we Canadians are going to get the government we deserve. Part of the reason for this, ... a very important reason for this, ... is because the habitual voting preferences of those Canadians who do vote, has revolved around two parties that have no interest in dismantling an electoral system that serves to perpetuate their two-party rule and which, while leaving them high and dry and powerless every once in a while, also gives them as much absolute power as the Canadian political system can give them. Sadly, when in power provincially, the NDP (which tends to absorb more "Liberal centrists" than it sheds pro-corporate slimeballs upon the demise of that province's Liberal party) has also sworn-off dismantling or archaic first-past-the-post electoral system.
But, aside from our electoral system, which makes healthy political diversity a liability, there's also the debased nature of capitalist-democracy and the short-term selfishness of Canadian partisans, we find ourselves in the situation we have now.
The Conservatives - I find myself living in Forest Hill, Toronto now. One of the wealthiest ridings in the country. So obviously, I see a lot of Conservative signs. These are generally wealthy people who like the Conservative image of being strictly small government and low taxes. I don't know how much they dig the idea of stopping gay-marriage or electing a party whose cabinet masturbates before every meeting thinking about the poor foreigners "the troops" are killing today. (They used to have circle-jerks, but alas! (the male old-timers say) the presence of women in the cabinet broke the chain, and since it's hard for a guy to beat his meat and skillfully finesse a clitoris, they all look after themselves now.) These wonderful people vote Conservative because they like having more money at tax time and they honestly don't give a shit if ordinary Canadians (the majority) are left with a useless, unaffordable health care system or can't afford an education.
Then you have your lower-income, or "blue-collar" Conservative supporters. These are people trained to believe that it's far more important to keep fags and dykes from being able to get married than it is that they can afford a doctor's visit for their kids, or ... well, you get the idea.
Last, but certainly not least, there are people who are just overall stupid. In any group there's likely to be a bell curve, and while "intelligence" is a subjective term, we know that there are some people with hardly any brain capacity who are practically vegetables and there are geniuses whose brains work much faster than ordinary people's. Some people are smart and some people are stupid. In a trippy kinda way, it all balances out in the end. A genuine drooling imbecile really only does as much damage to the world a their body is capable of physically producing, whereas a brilliant but fucked-up artist can traumatize hundreds of people and a brilliant but shallow scientist can build atomic weapons or poison the oceans. Still and all, some people are just stupid assholes who raise their children in nonsensical religions, enthusiastically cheer for wars with anyone because they're "cool," and vote harpercon because they don't understand how the economy works, are twisted closet-cases and they're racist.
I'd say that twenty to twenty-five percent of any large population are of the undeniably, overall stupid, wouldn't really want to have to associate with 'em, "Oh my god! Did you see what that stupid fucker did NOW?!?" variety of stupid.
The other big party in Canada is the Liberal Party. Who votes Liberal? Well, for a long time, it used to be Quebec federalists. A solid bloc of voters. Used to be, way back in our history, that the Conservative Party had Quebec votes sewn up because they were the party of Confederation and they had an understanding with Quebec's Roman Catholic Church that they wouldn't interfere with religious issues in Quebec. Eventually though, the aggressive Protestantism of the rest of Canada, the bigoted English violations of French language rights outside Quebec, and the British imperialist nature of English Canada, got too much for Quebec voters and they switched to the Liberals (ignoring the Church's sanction against voting for them, which itself had broken down under the assaults from English Canada) and turned Liberal.
This is getting too historical for me. After about four decades as a Liberal stronghold, Quebec turned to Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives until the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord whereupon Quebec votes were divided between the federalist Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. The vacuous Paul Martin (the "brilliant" finance minister who tamed the deficit -- a couple of years ahead of time -- by slashing spending and raising taxes --- WOW!) left an increasingly numerous group of Quebec voters wondering what the point of voting was and they turned increasingly to the Bloc to reflect their values.
The Liberal losses in Quebec were mitigated throughout the 1990s by the division of the right-wing vote into the rump Progressive Conservatives and the Reform/CRAP reflections of Western Canadian alienation. Jean Chretien's electoral success really needs to be examined in a riding-by-riding study of how the Liberal message really succeeded in the light of the split right-wing vote. Once the Conservative Party of Canada swallowed the Progressive Conservative Party (and spat out whatever didn't agree with it, like tolerance, maturity, a grasp of reality, etc.,) the Liberals immediately fell to minority status under Paul "Mr. Dithers" Martin.
But who really votes Liberal in this day and age?
People who really believe that you can have your cake and eat it too. People manifested of the same delusion that allowed Paul Martin himself to say with some degree of sincerity that the Liberal Party tried to makes sure that no Canadian was left behind, when it was the Liberals who eliminated the federal housing department, raised EI premiums and restricted benefits, lowered the federal contribution to health care and education, implemented "free trade" deals which devastated manufacturing jobs, and on and on. These are comfortable, upper or middle class people who are okay with gay rights, who believe in a woman's right to choose, who like Medicare, and etc., etc., ... but who think that all you have to do to have social justice is vote for a Liberal every four or five years, and you don't have to pay any attention to what they do in between their making that X beside the Liberal candidates' names.
These are people who genuinely believe that the NDP is part of the "loony left" and that the Liberals of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau just "gave" Canada medicare and the CPP and all that other stuff because they thought it was a good idea, because they were Liberals, because that's what Liberals do, because.
They're like the liberals in Lou Reed's tune: "I try to be as progressive as I can possibly be, as long as I don't have to try too much."
Then there are Liberals who voted to try and keep Canada together by voting federalist in Quebec. And the genuine progressives who find themselves in some right-wing area where the NDP gets 8% of the vote and they feel there's no other realistic option to even try to defeat some "Conservative" homophobic, racist who thinks caring about the environment is stupid, and for fags and who hates fags so you know how much he hates the environment.
Then there are Liberals who know that the Liberals are the players in their area. The ticket to government contracts and favourable legislation is through the Liberals, and if the proles want to hear stuff about "compassion" for the homeless, or whatever the fuck, sure, say it. Maybe even toss 'em a few crumbs, ... they don't really like the idea of homeless people and it makes them feel vaguely pleasant to say they'll "do something" for 'em, but now let's get back to business.
I'm to the left of the NDP. I'm more socialist than social-democratic. I believe that there's no such thing as a "free market" and that furthermore, what we have for a free market worked relatively well in a number of ways for a number of people, as part of a long, difficult, chaotic, and non-creatively destructive fashion back at the beginning of the last century, for a significant number of people, but we've learned how to do MUCH better after 1929.
I believe that the rightward turn of political-economy after 1980 was incredibly misguided and deluded and has produced all sorts of disasters and failure. If you look at the numbers for the 1970s, GDP growth rates, employment figures, government finances, homelessness, etc., the decade that "discredited" Keynesianism was better than the last couple of decades by far.
What we have been living through is three decades of class warfare fought as low intensity conflict. Money and power (to the extent that it had been diffused downwards between 1945 and 1973) has been redirected to the top of the political-economic power structure. That has been done under the aegis of a sophisticated propaganda campaign to make people believe that there was no alternative but to restore all power to capitalist elites in the desperate hope that they would be pleased enough with our subservience to offer employment and investment. It didn't happen. Instead, investment was channelled overseas or into speculation. If ordinary households hadn't responded by taking on increasing debt levels, if young adults hadn't been able to keep living under their parents' roofs (in large enough houses bought and paid for through unionized wages and sustained by decent union and government pensions) there would have been far less economic activity under the reign of neo-liberalism.
Some of the biggest enablers of this con-game have been liberals. I don't know how much people like Bill Clinton, Paul Martin, Jean Chretien, Barack Obama, Michael Ignatieff, etc., actually believe in the crapola they spew, (and, personally, i suspect that a lot of those guys believe in most of what they say), the practical impacts of their delusions and/or lies have been enormous. To be fair, so-called "social democrats" believed the same nonsense to a degree. The whole culture became infected with this group-think that said that unfettered capitalist oligarchy was the ONLY way to ... well, sometimes they promised "prosperity" and other times (usually after the prosperity failed to arrive) they promised, um, ... well, "stability" and something like the least amount of stagnation of any political-economic alternative.
At least though, social-democrats retained the ability to look at capitalism critically. They didn't tend to believe that "free trade" deals which opened economies to massively powerful competition, which deregulated industries, which allowed transnationals to shut-down here and re-open sweat-shops in impoverished dictatorships, would inevitably bring about high levels of employment, new jobs and high wages in Canada.
At least the social-democrats believed that the poor shouldn't be utterly ignored, their benefits slashed, their housing left to the private sector (read: increased homelessness), and that unions, which extract some of the wealth from the owners of capital to share it with the workers, are an inherently evil thing and a drain on society.
And I think what sickened Canadian social democrats and their socialist supporters about the Liberals was their insufferable smugness and hypocrisy. We really do have a hard time deciding who we hate more: boorish neanderthals like Rob Ford, bush II, or Mike Harris, or simpering, lying weasels like Paul Martin and Barack Obama. Both crews cheer on imperialist war, but the liberals, with their drivel about humanitarianism, their faux-reluctance to spill the blood of others, their cynical exploitation of idealistic buzzwords, ... they're a more difficult opponent to demonize. Perhaps it's better to have "conservatives" to oppose because they don't hide their vile natures as well.
And in Canada, sitting so close to the United States, with the pathetic spectacle of US politics on such close, constant display, with the liberal Democrats exposed as cynical triangulators, exposed as being utterly contemptuous of their progressive base (witness their dismissal of single-payer or even a public option for health insurance), and performing like spineless, mewling cowards in the face of Repugnican aggression, it's been especially galling to listen to Canadian liberals (whether corrupt, cynical Liberal party hacks, or the better sort of Liberal supporter I described above) say that the best option for progressives in Canada is to abandon the NDP and support the Liberals.
(If you're interested [and i'm sure you're not!] you can google my statements on Buzz Hargrove's delusions about the Liberals and what would happen to organized labour if the NDP were to disappear.)
Argh. This post doesn't go near far enough to convey how much I despise the Liberal Party in Canada. I've got some straightening up of the old apartment to take care of. If any Liberal Party supporters are wondering why dippers have such a hate-on for the Liberal Party, this little bit o' writing here might help explain things.
I still say that for this election, defeating harper was and is an important enough sign, symbolizing that Canada, when it counts, rejected the disgusting US-style contempt for democracy that harper imported here, that voting Liberal is necessary. Just as voting NDP is necessary where they're the contender. It will be the saddest thing should Liberals or NDP candidates lose to a harpercon by less votes than was received by an NDP or Liberal rival.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.