Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Apathy

It's hard to muster up any enthusiasm for talking about politics lately. Although I'm definitely still firmly behind the NDP on policy matters, I can certainly see why the latest SES poll sees more and more Canadians (spontaneously!) choosing "none of the above." "Unprecedented," Nik Nanos calls it. I'll see him that and raise him a "depressing."

I'm convinced that this kind of cynicism can't be about policy, nor can it even be about the inevitable exhaustion over yet one more political scandal. It's about rhetoric. It's about being sick of the pounding negativity that pervades our entire political process these days, in ALL parties. It's ironic but perhaps not surprising that the politician I've been finding most inspiring these days isn't technically a politician yet at all.

When they've lost the political geeks, who do they have left that's really listening? The journalists? (Maybe?)

14 comments:

James Bow said...

While there has been a growing sense of "a plague on all your houses" among the electorate (and I think the rise of the Greens to 8% of the vote in Ontario is part and parcel with that), now might not be a good time for any political poll. It's Christmas, and the last thing Canadians want to think about among the holidays is politics.

And another thing to consider is: what new things are there to talk about? I know that I've not had much to write about on my blog, and though Vivian has a lot to do witht that, I think it's because I've said a lot of what I'm thinking right now, before. Some people have no problem repeating themselves ad nauseum, but many of us just get tired of beating our heads against the wall and we want something new.

I expect things will change in January and February 2008 when we head into an election. Right now, the rhetoric is quite empty. When the words start to have some punch to them, we'll take notice.

Canajun said...

"It's about rhetoric. It's about being sick of the pounding negativity that pervades our entire political process these days, in ALL parties. "

Hear, hear!

The House of Commons has never seemed so bereft of progressive ideas and the kind of cooperation needed to be actually effective as it has in the past 2-3 years. It seems to me that the slide really started with Reform and then accelerated with the current Conservative government's endless bully tactics and questionable behaviour on the floor - and like any good plague, it quickly spread to infect the entire House.

One can only despair at the kind of country we'll have before these people start to act their ages and focus on the reasons we elected them in the first place.

Ron said...

Canajun - in a discussion about negativity, you are quick off the mark to insult and demonize and blame the right wing party(ies). If Parliment is disfunctional it is because the occupants put their partisan interests ahead of the country. In this, the NDP shares equal guilt with the other parties. It is the "left" wing parties (NDP,Liberal,Bloc) who collectively are behaving like children; collectively established a kangaroo court in the ethics comittee, of all places, and collectively are bringing down the level of debate and decorum in the house to sub-terrainian levels. The left, if it truly wanted, could collectively restore civility and respect for others in the House. You can disagree with a policy without accusing your opponent of the most dastardly motives. The last time things were this bad was during the Rat Pack years when, once again, the left was in opposition. You may wish to blame this on the Conservatives but there isn't a single party without blame. Jack Layton is condoning the actions of Martin and Mulcair(sp?) at the ethincs committee but they are no better (and in many cases, much worse) than the others.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

James,

I don't know. I don't celebrate Christmas (or any other December holidays), and so I'd be finding plenty to talk about if I weren't so disgusted by the whole lot of them at the moment.

canajun,

I think you're overlooking the true source of the problem: the fact that the perpetual minority governments of the past many years have meant a Parliament that's in perpetual election mode. It's essentially all the worst things about the American system, where the government never gets to just govern and the opposition never gets to just oppose. They're always looking out for their own political hides--they're forced to.

I'm pretty much ready to say that if we can't get some form of proportional representation in there soon, we should pass legislation that single-party minority governments should be illegal. This would force the winning party to figure out to work together with some other party in a coalition (thereby increasing both stability and cooperation). It still wouldn't be a true majority government elected by a majority of the voters, but at least it would get our politicians to stop whining long enough to get on with their work.

Ron,

I'll make a deal with you--I won't give the NDP a pass if you don't give Harper and Co. a pass, either. After all, they haven't been able to answer a question in Question Period without slamming the Liberals or the NDP or the Bloc (or for the best of all worlds, all three!) since they were elected. Most often without answering the question at all and just getting in their free slam without actually having to add any content. It's just plain repugnant. Don't tell me you approve of this?

Ryan said...

IP, don't forget the slamming abroad, such as the instance when Harper blamed Canada's lagging commitment on Kyoto on the Liberals.

Parliament is looking more and more like a glass house for Mr. Harper, but I don't get the feeling that he's run out of stones to throw.

Mushroom said...

"we should pass legislation that single-party minority governments should be illegal"

This is absurd to say the least. Then the Scottish Nationalist Party should have no right to form the present government in the Tartan Parliament since it has no willing coalition partners and won the most votes. Might as well legislate permanent Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition governments.

Please care to think about this again.

Greg said...

so I'd be finding plenty to talk about if I weren't so disgusted by the whole lot of them at the moment.

As you know, that's all I'm talking about at the moment and you're right. It is pretty discouraging.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

mushroom,

What, I'm not allowed to throw up my hands in frustration and muse about silly possibilities? Please don't take every little thing I throw out there in a discussion 100% seriously!

I'm just sick of Canadian-style minorities, that's all. They make our parliamentarians behave like children.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Ryan,

IP, don't forget the slamming abroad, such as the instance when Harper blamed Canada's lagging commitment on Kyoto on the Liberals.

No kidding. I mean, the Liberals certainly have to wear their share of the blame, but ABROAD? I can only imagine what everybody though of our petty internal squabbles getting aired in public.

Canajun said...

Ron:

Let's just look at the past year or so:

- Even after Ralph Goodale is cleared in the whole income trust affair, the Cons refuse to acknowledge it and continue to cast aspersions on his character in the House.
- Stephen Harper implies in the House that a Liberal member who is Sikh is a terrorist sympathizer and refuses to even acknowledge that, perhaps, it was a bit extreme to do so.
- The Conservatives launch negative campaign style ads slamming Dion as "Not a Leader".
- Any question about Canada's role in Afghanistan is met with cries of Taliban lover from the Cons benches.
- Stephen harper never misses an opportunity to belittle the opposition leaders in the House.
- Peter van Loan refers to Dalton McGuinty as a "small man" for questioning the Cons proposed electoral reforms

And the list goes on, and on, so I have no problem placing the bulk of the blame on the Conservatives for getting us here in the first place. Unfortunately the other parties have had to follow suit into the gutter - as opposition parties they have no choice but to play on the field established ny the government.

Oh by the way, I'm not NDP. I'm actually a conservative-leaning Canadian who can't stand what Stephen Harper and his merry band of sycophants are doing to this country.

Mushroom said...

"I mean, the Liberals certainly have to wear their share of the blame, but ABROAD?"

Having lived abroad for a decade, I know that the rest of the world don't take Canada seriously. In fact, I avoid any coverage of Canada because it creates an illusion I am a hick who lives in an igloo and loves this bizarre sport known as ice hockey.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

mushroom,

It depends on where you are abroad, actually. The Germans think of us as rugged outdoorsmen who all live in the mountains and eat lots of beef jerky.

Josh Gould said...

...we should pass legislation that single-party minority governments should be illegal.

I agree here, but not with the precise wording. Simply put, a new government should not govern by default - it should be required to obtain an explicit majority vote of support before it can draft much less deliver a Throne Speech. No more of this nonsense where a PM governs until he resigns; the Governor-General should call upon not the leader of the largest party to form the government, but upon the leader who can first secure an explicit vote of confidence. It would further need to be reasonably expected that said leader could maintain confidence via a formal coalition or an explicit agreement for the support of a smaller party or independents.

Sound reasonable? I'd almost say that we should set electoral reform aside for the time being and look at this sort of reform.

TonyGuitar said...

Apathy? apathy?

Are you kidding? The NDP is made up of Canadians... Canadians are NEVER apathetic.

The lid on Iraq is holding better than ever.

A stroke of the pen in the US congress setting an E-85 , M-85 standard will bring the barrel price of oil back to around $50.

BendGovernment.blogspot.com

The Zenn [zero emmission no noise], and Dynasty electric vehicles have both recently qualified for sale in Canada.

AutoBlogGreen.com

This also leads to cuts in oil pricing. That leads to less Saudi funding of Madrasses that offer young men regular meals for cheap brainwashing.

Not to mention taking some steam out of Putin, Acmahdinejad and Hugo Chavez.

The NDP could come up with a top 10 major pollution list.

Try and find that list at Suzuki, Greenpeace, Sierra, Al Gore, or even the Greens.. NOT THERE!

NDP could lead or be trampled by the Green Party.. your choice.

I can*t wait for my electric car. $250 gas money in my bank monthly instead of ExxonMibile*s pumps.

Now that Canadians are gradually realizing the extent of Liberal Party fraud. [ 200 plus scams detailed in the factual press like The National Post], the NDP could not wish for better times.

Apathy? Confuoosing. = TG