Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Yay, democracy! part 2

This Magazine Staff

My last posting has been criticized for not recognizing the dire straits our democracy has entered.
I weary of these politics. We live in a parliamentary democracy with a first past the post electoral system. I’d like to see one of those factors change, but I doubt it will happen anytime soon, despite Stephen Harper’s electoral reform noises. It is simply not in the interest of a potential majority party to change this system. Absolute power, etc.
Something the leftover ideologues in the NDP need to realize:
Most Canadians actually DO think a lot about their taxes and their mortgages and their childcare expenses, AND their thoughts on these subjects are not always pure or ideological. I know higher gas prices are better for the planet, yet I still wait for a downward fluctuation to pull into the station and gas up. Bad lefty!
Canadians need to be addressed during an election first and foremost as if thinking that way is NOT morally lazy. Holding the balance of power in order to lecture the country on social issues from a particular ideological stance is a short-sighted goal for the NDP. It seems to me Layton is much more interested in rolling up his sleeves and asking Canadians what their goals are — all of them, not just the good-hearted ones. That’s a hopeful sign for the party, since, judging by the election results, the majority of the Canadian population shares a centre-left perspective on social issues, and a right-tolerant perspective on the economy, especially when it’s “time for a change.” That’s a Canadian reality. Political parties ignore it at their peril.
If the NDP ignores it — to borrow a Coynism — they will merely be leaving the motor running on those new seats for the return of the Liberals, once the reds get themselves a sellable leader and some new energy.
My favorite moment from this election? At an all candidates meeting in Etobicoke-Lakeshore a union fellow got up and asked the NDP candidate, Liam McHugh-Russell, if the NDP would use its influence in Parliament to increase corporate taxes in order to balance the burden off individuals a bit. McHugh-Russell looked very thoughtful, paused, leaned into the microphone and said “No.” The Paul Summerville idea that ‘prosperity’ should not be a dirty word for the NDP has some good young believers.
Yet the old tax-and-spend NDP image was used very effectively against the party in that riding, by both Liberals and Conservatives. Change takes time.

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