Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Get real

I promised in the previous post not to obsess about Canadian politics, but I hope this one says something about the current situation that no one else has brought up yet.

In the last federal election, the Conservatives got a plurality of seats, but not a majority. Their traditional rivals the Liberals did very poorly, but still formed the official opposition. When Parliament met about two weeks ago, our unlovable PM pulled a stunt so provocative that he unified the other parties in the House against him -- no mean feat. The PM then asked the Governor General to close Parliament temporarily in hopes that the opposing coalition would fall apart. As it well may.

Here is the thing I am commenting on. The federal Liberals are now in the process of replacing their leader, the one who did poorly in the general election, with a new one, and they are doing it without any reference to the ordinary members of the party. They are simply going with the candidate who has the most support in the Liberal caucus in the House of Commons. I suppose they can do that, but like the PM's stunt it shows up in complete contempt for the political realities of the country and of their own party's position. Today on CBC Radio One, there were a lot of former Liberal voters calling in saying that they understood that there needed to be a new leader in time for the reopening of Parliament in late January, but why couldn't a modern political party arrange for consultation with the membership in that timeframe?

The answer, Mr. Bones, is that no Canadian political party is modern. To be modern now means that you have to have absorbed the lesson of the Obama victory in the Democratic resurgence that preceded it. You have to realize that the party that actively engages with its grassroots members, and members of the general public who have never been involved in a partisan organization before, well, that party has a hope in hell of doing something. Otherwise not.

I know this. Why don't these professional politicians know it? they are now going to attempt the brave feat of running a national party with no grass roots at all.

Image: any implied insult to horses and buggies is regretted. This was a good technology at the time.

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