Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To all the gleeful poll-sifters

I strongly disagree with Green blogger Chris Tindal about the current state of the NDP, and for that matter I don't believe the new Strategic Counsel polling numbers for a second (for why, just see any other recent poll, or for that matter, Greg Staples). But I still think Chris still has some smart things to say about the Greens and the NDP toward the end of his post about those numbers.

Between bits of advice for Jack Layton, he sneaks in a statement that essentially boils down to the notion that you don't have to "secretly hope to wipe the NDP off the map completely" to be a good Green. I agree with this, as well as with the reverse: if you're a New Democrat, you can not want to vote Green because you think they're wrong about a lot of things, but still think Canada would be better off with their input in Parliament. And it's part of the tragedy of our political culture that this is a radical idea at all--that being at each other's throats is seen so much as the natural state of things that even two sides that are both proponents of electoral reform are reduced to gleeful poll-sifting and finger-pointing.

In fact, I would take Chris's statement one step further. I would go so far as to say that every time an NDP blogger gets gleeful over the Greens being down in the polls, or a Green blogger gets gleeful over the reverse, what they're really saying is: "You know that dedication to electoral reform that my party has been trumpeting? Well, for me at least, it's nothing but opportunism, and you can be damn sure I'll abandon it as soon as my party has a chance at the big brass ring." When you can't say with clarity and confidence that there's room on the Canadian political scene for a diversity of perspectives, then your commitment to a system that institutionalizes that diversity is revealed as the sham it is.

13 comments:

Chris Tindal said...

There's wisdom here. Well said.

And by the by, if I ever stop treating electoral reform as a priority please smack me.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Chris,

You wouldn't be on my reading list if I thought that was likely. :-)

Mushroom said...

No.

I think the rules with regards to the debate needs to be changed based on these poll results.

There will only be room for debates between the Government and the Official Opposition.

It will be based on policy issues ie. Harper v. Dion, Flaherty v. MacCallum on Finance, Bernier v. Rae on Foreign Affairs etc.

The Dippers and the Greens can participate in the debate once they sign up to joining the Grits in a coalition government.

Greg said...

In fact, I would take Chris's statement one step further. I would go so far as to say that every time an NDP blogger gets gleeful over the Greens being down in the polls, or a Green blogger gets gleeful over the reverse, what they're really saying is: "You know that dedication to electoral reform that my party has been trumpeting? Well, for me at least, it's nothing but opportunism, and you can be damn sure I'll abandon it as soon as my party has a chance at the big brass ring."

There is truth to that IP. Why is there no electoral reform in Manitoba(and why only a deathbed conversion in Saskatchewan)? The prospect of total power does strange things to people.

Ryan said...

Mushrooms appears to be in favour of the two-party state. Perhaps we should change the name of the commons to "congress," too.

Canadians don't just want to choose between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. I for one, am sick of this "lesser of two evils" argument. It's purely undemocractic. Any party that gets at least 5 percent gets the attention of enough Canadians deserves to be in the debate.

Long live democracy, mushroom says.

Saskboy said...

I hope mushroom is joking.
Greg, you're right. I pointed that out well before the NDP's death gasp in the campaign here last month. They only accepted PR when they saw it would benefit them in the next 4 years. Too bad they didn't use the 16 years before to implement it...

Sean S. said...

agreed IP, at least I hope that is how my comments over at Tindal's blog came across. Their is more then enough room in Ottawa for all of us and we will be better off with more voices added to the mix.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Ryan,

mushroom is a Liberal who worked very very hard on the Ontario referendum campaign. He was being facetious.

Kat Hay said...

Well said, well said. It's nice to hear the "idealist" come out a little bit. I figure we forget what politics is meant to be - a dialogs and discussion, rather than finger-pointing and polls. All parties have things that make them unique, and that is why they all get votes. Polls are just a temporary test of public opinion, and can change daily.

Thanks!

Ryan said...

Wow, my bad. I apologize.

I really must stop surfing so many liberal blogs. I'm used to a lot of "Jack Layton helps Stephen Harper eat babies" so I perhaps got my back up a little prematurely :)

Mushroom said...

What I was suggesting is that maybe the political debates we have in the past lack substance.

One more party leader in a bear pit to determine who has the best eight second soundbite.

Maybe the rules need to be changed so the issues being discussed may be more substantive.

IP as the linguist/rhetorician among us may offer some enlightened points.

Deanna said...

I'm all for progressive alliances in areas where parties have similar goals. I don't see the Greens, NDP, or even the Liberals as competitors - all offer something different to progressives and we can each pick the one that most closely matches our personal point of you.

The fact that our current electoral system creates an atmosphere where the parties are forced to compete more than work together is the problem we're trying to solve.

Regrettably, even at electoral reform conferences, it is apparently difficult to put those competitive instincts behind us.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Deanna,

See, and here's where we disagree: I do see those three parties as competitors. Each of those three parties has a different view of where they want Canada to go, and it's perfectly normal for them to argue with each other. But the thing is, in sane political cultures, 'competitor' doesn't mean 'at each other's throats', and it really doesn't mean lying in wait for your competitor to do something that you can pounce on. In sane political cultures, parties manage to compete with each other while still being respectful and...well, not childish, frankly. And they still manage to work together when they need to, despite being competitors.

Also, one other area where we differ is that while you're talking here only about the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens, I'd include conservative parties in this as well. Just because I think they're wrong doesn't mean I think conservative viewpoints should be wiped off the map entirely. Not when there are large numbers of Canadians who agree with those viewpoints.