Thursday, July 16, 2015

New column day

Here, expanding on this post as to the Harper Cons' choice between short-term tactics and long-term viability.

For further reading, Jamey Heath argues that the Libs are serving only split voters who have a common interest in change, and that the progressive vote should coalesce behind the NDP. But in contrast, Don Lenihan theorizes that the content-free brokerage model long associated with the Libs is set for a comeback dressed up as "open government".

That said, it seems that there's one possible outcome of this fall's election and its aftermath which fits all of the above pieces together. It may be that the NDP can both form government immediately, and position itself as the long-term progressive contender for government. Yet at the same time, if the Cons' brand is repudiated thoroughly enough by voters, the Libs may well offer a more promising right-wing vehicle for all but the most fervent of Con partisans.

So Stephen Harper's goal of Westernizing federal politics might take the NDP/Lib dichotomy which is already the default in British Columbia.


  1. Ya and its worked out so well for "progressives" in BC.
    In the UK and several CDN provinces the center parties have been eliminated.
    And in each of those places the nasty right-wing has dominated over the long term with occasional blips like the recent Alberta upset.
    In these 'binary' fptp situations the right-wing either holds power outright or plays with Tony-Blair-like governments.

  2. True enough - which highlights the fact that merely beating the Cons isn't enough to establish the system we want. (Though the shift to MMP promised by the NDP federally would go a long way toward avoiding the problem with binary campaigns.)

  3. Ultimately, I think it's impossible for hard conservatism to become the "natural" governing party in any reasonably democratic country. With enough propaganda and elite support it can be popular for a while, but ultimately whatever the tactics of the leadership, positioning efforts and so on, it tends to come up against one basic limitation:
    Conservatism sucks. Economic conservatism immiserates the majority by making them poor, social conservatism immiserates the majority by thwarting their personal and social aspirations. Ultimately a backlash sets in. The only way to block this is by limiting democracy, which is why we see so many efforts to limit democracy.
    Alberta was admittedly an exception for a long time, and despite the current government may still be in a way, but that's largely because conservatism could coast on an extraordinary source of wealth. Still, while it took a long time they managed to squander it so bad there was a backlash in the end.

    (Note: Conservatism's propaganda does appeal to genuine, if often unpleasant, facets of human nature. That's why it's effective propaganda. But other ideologies also appeal to facets of human nature. All else being equal, people would turn to ones that actually did them some good; all else isn't equal because elites have money, but enough bad performance on the ground tends to counteract that in the end)