Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reply to Scotian

Scotian left a long, detailed statement in the comments section of this post. I composed an equally lengthy reply, which was subsequently eaten by blogger and since Scotian deserves a reply and I don't have all the time in the world, I thought I'd make my second attempt my post for the day:
I just wish you could understand that I've never been a Liberal member or committed supporter but someone that has feared Harper for 20+ years and only looked for the most realistic ways to prevent his rise to power and failing that the most probable method of removing him from it. I'm very bitter about the Layton NDP in no small part because I expected the NDP to stop such a monster from ever getting to the PM's seat all of my life, and when they were most needed to do so they instead decided it was more important to team up with that monster to defeat their common electoral rival.
In my first reply, I got around to expressing the idea that back in 2006 I had no clue about how much harper would import the corrosively contemptuous attitude to democracy of Karl Rove-style Repugnicans. I don't think Layton could have foreseen how bad harper was going to be either. If your 2006-era posts predicting how dangerous harper will be are still up anywhere on the internet I'd be happy to look at them and give you the credit you're due.
This is why I have such contempt for the idea that the NDP is any different from the Libs or CPC in terms of placing principles first, the actual record under Layton has shown otherwise, and it really frustrates me to see how that proud legacy of the NDP was so cheaply sold out and with so little outcry from within the party too.
Well, this is how I saw it: Layton and the NDP took a lot of abuse for "propping-up the corrupt Liberals" after Martin was reduced to a minority after AdScam. But Layton said that Canadians had voted, they'd returned a minority government, and it was up to MPs to make it work. But when he decided to try to force Martin to reverse the creeping privatization of health care, and the destruction to the National health care system caused by Martin's reduction of money and oversight for provincial health care programs, Martin told him to go fuck himself.

Layton was hoping for a reduced Liberal minority wherein the NDP would have more bargaining power against the Liberals. Instead, we ended-up with a harper minority. But Layton resigned himself to attempting to work with harper just as he had worked with Martin. He did so until it became clear that harper was someone who it is impossible to trust.

For all the blustering about how the NDP has enabled harper, it was the Liberals who kept him in power by either voting with his government (usually for continued imperialism and war crimes in Afghanistan) or by hiding from votes in the House of Commons (for which harper rewarded them with bullying abuse) a total of 79 times apparently. The NDP sided with harper one time that I approved of, and that was in response to Ignatieff's completely out-of-the-blue election threats in September 2009. Forcing an election for absolutely no cause would probably have brought on the harpercon majority that we all fear. And while a lot of Liberals seemed pratically overjoyed at the idea that for this budget the NDP would again sell itself out, it seems that the NDP has frustrated those claims and has made a principled stand (with the Liberals) against harper's contempt for democracy.

I'm just saying that neither party has a monopoly on principled resistance to stephen harper's reign of thuggery. Back in 2006, Martin could have stayed in power by agreeing to NDP pressure to restore federal support for public health care. Either Martin was too arrogant to want to listen to the NDP's scolding, or (more likely) he was dedicated to benefiting the wealthy private health insurance or private health providers who are slavering over the dismantling of not-for-profit medicine in Canada, and he CHOSE to cook his own goose. Layton demanded a clear stand on public health care and Martin gave him one. Martin sided against it.

This is the fundamental problem with the Liberal Party. Chretien-Martin was not an aberration. We have to put things into historical perspective. When the general public turned "left" after the Great Depression and World War II combined to discredit 19th-Century liberal economics and to vindicate progressive ideas about government intervention, the Liberals turned left as well, and in Canada, they went farther left than their Democratic Party USA counterparts went because there was a viable social-democratic party pushing them that way.

When "stagflation" supposedly discredited postwar Keynesianism, and somehow revitalized [selectively chosen] 19th-Century liberal (or "free market") theories, everyone turned rightwards. Reagan and Thatcher moved the right-wing farther right, and everyone followed. The NDP under Romanow, Doer, etc., became Liberal managers and the Liberal Party itself turned against their own legacy, and upon gaining power in 1993, Chretien and Martin swung the axe more enthusiastically than Mulroney had.

And they did it of their own free will. Martin ran a steamship line. John Manley would go off to head the reformed BCNI, the CCCE. At the time Martin was dismantling the welfare state and giving assholes like Mike Harris the excuses they needed to destroy provincial programs, there was no debt crisis in Canada. Remember when Linda McQuaig revealed how Canadian corporate media shills and think-tanks jumped all over Moody's bond-rating agency for giving Canada a clean fiscal bill of health in the mid-1990s? Martin did what he did because he's a corporate-capitalist politician. Martin, and the Liberals ARE dangerous because they pretend that they'd like to help ordinary Canadians but there is no alternative to cut-backs, "economic reality" sadly makes it so.

Bullshit. Martin used EI premiums to balance his budgets while giving away tax-cuts to the wealthiest Canadians. Martin had "surprise" surpluses year after year (but they weren't surprises to the Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives who predicted them with amazing accuracy year after year) and he then gave away these surpluses in tax-cuts or deficit reduction, never bothering to reinvest in public health care or education. It wasn't until he found himself in a minority situation that Martin rediscovered the wisdom of spending money in the real economy.

I'll continue ...
I've never been able to support the mindset of my party right or wrong, it was something that offended both the Liberal and Conservative wings of my family, each of whom had hoped I would align with their side because I had an interest in politics at a very early age.. I vote each election based on my local candidates, the national leaders, the issues involved, and the overall national context, the very definition of the swing Canadian centrist voter. Why it really hacked me off to get branded a Lib by so many was that I only supported the Libs as the vehicle to stop or replace Harper, you never saw me writing posts about how I like this or that Lib policy or leader, which if I was a real Lib partisan I would have been doing.
Here's what happened with me. On this post from "Far and Wide" about harper's entirely obnoxious and idiotic abuse of the recent tragedy in Japan for his own partisan benefit, for some reason, you took it as an opportunity to vent your spleen about Layton. At a time like this, when we're going into an election and we have to work together, I took umbrage at what I thought was a needless, gratuitous, partisan swipe at the NDP. Given that I've become increasingly irritated at Liberal shills distorting the incredibly important concept of "strategic voting" in our archaic electoral system into "PROGRESSIVES MUST ALWAYS VOTE LIBERAL!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT!!!!!!" I had no patience for what seemed like a useless diversion from harper's inhumanity to the complicity of the NDP. (And, again, if putting harper in power and keeping him there is so bad, it is as much the Liberals' fault as the NDP's!)

Furthermore, and also at "Far and Wide" I responded to a post about how awesome the Liberals' latest campaign platform is by quoting Paul Martin's "Screw the 'Red Book'" statement where he cynically trashed his whole glossy book of promises. He continued to ignore his promises all through his years when his "surprise" surpluses would have made those promises affordable. Because he's a corporate neo-liberal stooge who had no intention of using Canada's government revenues for the bulk of the population. Just like Martin was perfectly willing to help overthrow Aristide in Haiti out of concern for Canada's "responsibility to protect" the people of Haiti from misgovernment, only to turn them over to a kleptocracy of torturers who (along with the international economy) reduced Haitians to eating dirt, Martin's concern for ordinary Canadians is actually a generalized disdain.

You'll excuse me then, if I refuse to get starry-eyed by another Liberal book of promises. Jeeziz, it just occurs to me now how the Liberals love it with the huge promises! They campaigned on their having signed the Kyoto Accord even when Canada's greenhouse gas emissions record post-Kyoto was WORSE than bush II's USA! Dion went to the people with his carbon-shift policies only to abandon them once harper made explaining them sightly difficult. Oh, but remember, Dion named his dog "Kyoto." (I'll bet he hates that mutt right now!)
People like Dana and me saw this disaster coming, tried to warn everyone and got the treatment of Cassandra for it, and from some that we would normally have expected to be fellow travellers, which increased both of our cynicism. It becomes very hard not to feel a certain very bitter satisfaction in saying we told you so these days, at least for me, I took a LOT of abuse in the 2006 election for my views despite being very detailed in showing my work as to why I believed them.
Well, look. I've always said that I like a lot of Liberal bloggers. I think it made good strategic sense to have run with the Liberals back in the pre-1980s, when they were the most likely vehicle for getting things done. Today, I can still see the point of voting Liberal in a lot of ridings, especially to block a harpercon candidate. If you're gay, I can totally see one getting enthusiastic about the party that fought for your rights (with the NDP and the Bloc) at the national level. But I can't get enthusiastic about the party. They're a necessary evil in some respects, but they're also a dangerous distraction. Without the NDP's pressure (OH. and don't for a minute think that I've deluded myself into thinking that the NDP hasn't succumbed to the same neo-liberal snake-oil as the Liberals. But at the end of the day, it's a good thing that there's a party criticizing the Liberals from the left.) ...without the NDP and the Bloc, Canadian politics would be the same depressingly arid, hypocritical, nonsense as that between the Repugs and the Dems in the USA. And Canadian progressives would be making the same lame excuses for the Liberals as USian progs are making for Obama's ghastly crimes and betrayals.

Vote Liberal if you have to. I'll support you if you do. But don't expect me to get excited about it.

(Whew! That was longer than the original!)


Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is an excellent post. I am sick and tired of Liberals blaming the NDP for (h)arper, especially after Adscam.

Kincardine said...

thwap, strategic voting has always been about NDP leaning voters, voting liberal. It has been and always will be.

Your historical recollection is spot on. Here we are again with the boogey man at the door, and it's the same old same old.

thwap said...

It is the same thing, isn't it?

"The Republicans are crazy-scary! You have no choice but to vote Democrat! To stop 'em!"

"The Conservatives are crazy-scary! You have no choice but to vote Liberal! To stop 'em!"