The Liberal Party Is Sick

Liberal blogger Jason Cherniak unleashed a small firestorm the other day, asking a simple question:

Why does the NDP exist?

Actually, he went further. You can read his full post and its follow-up here. In reaction to the NDP’s (in my opinion long-overdue) expulsion of Buzz Hargrove from the party, Jason could not contain himself:

What is their purpose in Canadian politics? Should a political party be celebrating because they won less than 10% of the seats in the House of Commons? Should a political party be celebrating because the group most opposed to their ideology is now in government? Should a political party be kicking out lifelong members because they do not adhere to party policy? What is the purpose of the NDP?

The difference between the party and its members is actually a perfect example of the problem. I know a lot of people who vote or consider voting for the NDP. They are mostly good, idealistic people who are trying to improve the world. The problem is that they have been siphonned off from the rest of politics. They vote for a party that can never win because some of that party’s policies have become policy over time. They have gone for the argument that somehow losing on principle is more important than truly obtaining the opportunity to change Canada. That used to be the clarion call of the Reform Party.

The problem is that these extremists are still pulling away too many good people. The problem is that as much as the NDP cannot win, it is not an “insignificant’ party. It is party that took just enough anti-Conservative votes to ensure that the Conservatives would win in January. It is the party that put forward a campaign based on little other than a game-show host as leader. It is the party that refused to work with Young Liberals in 2004 on a non-partisan youth registration campaign.

Uh, huh. I have to ask, Mr. Cherniak: do you think you are entitled to our votes? Do you think that, just because you fish around for the middle way, that we should just ditch our convictions, and our search for integrity, and flock to your cause? Do you believe that you and only you know the correct direction for the country to go, and to heck with anybody who thinks different?

News flash, Mr. Cherniak: not everybody agrees with you, or the party you represent. Not everybody feels that your party, as it now stands, is capable of providing good government in this country. Not everybody — indeed, nearly 70% of voters — feel that just because you compromise between two divergent viewpoints, you’ve automatically made good policy that can satisfy most people.

I know you’ve said that it’s not your intention to suggest that NDP voters are stupid, but I can taste the tang of sour grapes in your voice. Consider the comment:

The problem is that these extremists are still pulling away too many good people. … It is party that took just enough anti-Conservative votes to ensure that the Conservatives would win in January.

Aw, geez. Curse the NDP. How dare they pull away progressive voters from our cause? And while we’re at it, how dare the Conservatives pull away fiscally responsible voters from our cause. In fact, why should we have political parties at all? They only serve to distract Canadians from voting who they really want in power: us! Let’s all just be Liberals and hold elections to choose between the Chretien and Martin brands.

I am a centrist, but I am not a Liberal. While it is true that the Liberal party has enacted more policies that I personally agree with than any other political party this past century, I am a centrist and not a Liberal because, for me, centrism is not just about compromise. I am a centrist because I understand that nobody is right all of the time, and that no single response is sufficient to answer every question or solve every problem. In this respect, I have to follow my own advice: the centrist approach of finding the middle way between two divergent viewpoints does not always yield the best result.

The best Liberal governments governed not by compromising, but by listening. The best Liberal governments filched policies from the NDP, the Conservatives and the Reform Party not out of a sense of compromise, but because these policies were the right ones for Canada at the time. There was no truck nor trade with those forces that wanted nothing to do with public health care, or felt we could continue on our spender bender without suffering any consequences. There was no compromise here, there was only agreement between key groups that it had to be done.

In my opinion, although I’m sure Jason Cherniak didn’t intend to do this, he highlighted the arrogance and contempt for voters that the Liberals display in their worst moments. And he illustrated that he doesn’t quite get politics. The old Tip O’Neill chestnut, which is often quoted by many Liberals if the Trudeau miniseries is to be believed, was not “politics is about compromise”, it was “politics is the art of the possible.” No mention of compromise here. Just pragmatic, open-minded leadership. And that’s something the Liberals have not been able to give us these past few years. And just one of the many reasons Canadians shifted to the Conservatives and the NDP this time around.

The Canadian Blogosphere’s Next Battle

The next big issue for the Canadian blogosphere to comment on is the libel case between Warren Kinsella and Mark Bourrie of Ottawa Watch. The engagement has drawn attention throughout the political blogosphere, with bloggers on all sides of the political spectrum. It’s liable to get messy and should be interesting to watch.

If you’d like to know more, I’ll direct you to Star columnist Antonio Zerbiasis’ balanced take on the subject.

Personally, I suggest that the two settle their differences like gentlemen: with a mud wrestling match. Oh, wait…

As For The Conservatives…

So, half of the reason the whole Emerson affair has been allowed to fester has been the Conservative’s poor media management skills. Bringing the controversial appointments on a Monday and bringing out nothing else to compete with the story all week allowed it to build and build.

All that being said, Harper can still count himself lucky. At least David Emerson didn’t have a hunting accident.

Be sure to watch the video on this link. We haven’t had a political comedian on this side of the border so on fire as Jon Stewart was on this issue.

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