Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The future of Canadian politics

Just thinking out loud here and would appreciate any and all thoughts out there. I've been thinking about some of these things for some time now, but with all the formidable "rise" of the Greens in urban Canada stuff, I thought it timely.  

First, the problem as I see it. The Canadian political landscape is mired in brokerage politics in which our political parties, solely in the pursuit of power, increasingly disavow an ideological core in the name of brokering various regional, economic, cultural, and ideological interests. To be more precise, narrower and principled ideological positions that used to define political parties, have been replaced by a new fluid ideological core: pure opportunism, be all things to everyone and win at any and all costs.  Regrettably, brokerage politics has infected all parties, even the most regional and ideologically committed parties like the Bloc and the NDP. But let's also recognize that brokerage politics is a sine qua non of the Liberal and the Conservative parties, only made more insidious by the fact that obfuscated in their attempts to broker different interests (merely for the purposes of culling their vote) is an indispensable loyalty not to "the common good", but to one abiding interest: that of the wealthy. 

Brokerage politics contributes in no small measure to two of the biggest issues afflicting Canadian politics today: abysmal political participation (voters do not see themselves reflected in the political parties, they see that neither their individual interests nor those of the common good are being served), endless and unabashed negative campaigning (the byproduct of placing winning at all costs above serving the common good, above presenting a platform and vision to voters about which they may feel included and excited).  Of course, we also can't discount the systemic causes of this malaise (our electoral system, power/class relations created by capitalism and the ideologies that prop up this system of exploitation --ruthless individualism, narcissistic gratification, the myth of the free market which increasingly comes to mean the monopolized market, the myth of meritocracy, the Horatio Alger myth...).

Instead, I would like to see political parties that distinguish themselves by transparently and steadfastly pursuing an ideological vision; a vision of what they believe truly to be in the interests of the common good, a vision of their ideal society. I would like to take part in shaping a future society in which democracy and justice truly prevails, in which citizens are guided by bliss and passion, by beauty and truth, and the affirmation not the denigration of one another.  And I'd like to know whether or not the political party I support, am a member of, or vote for shares my vision.

Problem is, as brokerage parties the Liberals and Conservatives cannot be counted on to be stay the course or to steadfastly adhere to any vision. They can only be counted on to move with the polls and to chase votes by any means necessary. Second, were the Liberals and Conservatives ever to expose their deepest ideological cores it would be revealed that these are political parties beholden to very narrow economic interests and committed to a worldview of the war of all against all (they prefer the word "competition") with little desire for real democracy and justice. For liberal democracy is just a front for the rich to stay rich. Conservatives represent the vestiges of the former aristocracy (old money) and the Liberals represent the vestiges of the new business class in whose interest liberal democracies were created (new money). 

In the future, then, Canada will be a two party system. But not of the Liberal/Tory same old story variety (that is so 18th century). Rather, the political landscape will be governed by two principled political reincarnations of the old Left/Right political spectrum, both working towards similar utopias, albeit both in very different ways. Yes, the future of Canadian politics is the NDP and the Green Party.  Any takers? 

1 comment:

Powell lucas said...

You are really looking a long way into the future with that prediction. So long as the NDP keeps electing leaders who sent letters of support to those who would smother free speech they will forever remain a fringe party. As for the Green Party: so long as they elect leaders who, the minute they open their mouths, betray their downright stupidity, they too will wander in the political wilderness.
Even if this way-out fantasy did come to pass the first two rules of politics 101 would immediately kick in:
incompetence + obfuscating charm = electibility + incompetence.
politician + money = corruption.