Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A belated comment on Jason Cherniak's final goodbye

When über-Liberal blogger Jason Cherniak decided to hang up his blogging hat after the last election, there was no shortage of reaction from the blogosphere, left, right, and centre. But the one thing that struck me most about his swan song wasn't mentioned by anyone:

This is my last post on politics. After almost four years of blogging, I have decided that I have had enough. When I started, I was about to start articling at a major Toronto law firm and I was moving up in the Liberal Party. I've continued to move up in the party, but I also know that too many people see me as a blogger first.
"Move up in the Liberal Party." As if the Liberal Party existed not to be an organization of people with common political preferences who are dedicated to making Canada a better place, but as a vehicle for personal career advancement. In which success is defined not by how well the group manages to realize its goals for the country, but by how quickly you can claw your way into important, powerful partisan positions.

I'm really surprised no one's commented on this. Does that sort of thinking really make no one else wrinkle their nose and emit an involuntary: "Eew."?

(Are there New Democrats who think like this? There must be.)


Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiment, but I am not at all surprised that people think this way.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I guess I'm less surprised by the fact that Mr. Cherniak thinks that way, and more surprised that the personal ambition is laid bare for everyone to see rather than covered over with rhetoric about the good his party can do for the country.

Anonymous said...

When I was the President of the UWO New Democrats, I had the great fortune to be able to meet a lot of young New Democrats, Liberals, and Tories. For the most part, I found members of all parties to be honest, intelligent, respectful, and motivated by the desire to improve their communities.

That said, I also met a lot of young people (especially in the Liberal Party) who seemed to be in it mostly for networking opportunities and/or personal ambition. Mostly young pre-professional types pursuing careers in business and law. I always found that to be very distasteful.

I think that it happens in every party to a certain extent, but I do get the impression that the Liberals are something of a magnet for people who are involved in politics for largely selfish reasons.

Dr.Dawg said...

In fact Jason has never hidden his personal ambition--he was so child-like and ingenuous about it that, to tell the truth, I thought it was rather charming.

Anthony said...

Why do people always think jason Cherniak embodies the Liberal Party?

I think he made the right decision. Blogs are held in contempt by many party officials across the board.

All Jason's blog did was get him in trouble. He is a sensible guy. A riding President.

He decided to pick one of the two. I think he made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

I suspect every political party has ambitious people in it. Sure, lots of us join up to help make a difference, to drive policy and actions that are important to us.

But frankly, there are a lot of people who want to be politicians out there, who are studying political science (for example) because they want to be prime minister or, a cabinet member, or a puppet master someday.

The Liberal party may have a higher percentage of those folks (as compared to idealists and worker bees) because they are seen as one of the parties most likely to form government. I'm sure the Conservatives have their share as well, even if it hasn't been spoken about openly.

It's also one reason why we see politicians crossing the floor between parties - they're not conviction based, they're opportunity based. (Stronach and Emerson being prime examples. Garth Turner too - given his green sympathies, he could easily have become the first Green MP, but he went from one power center to another instead.)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Why do people always think jason Cherniak embodies the Liberal Party?

Can you point at the line where I said that, Antonio? 'Cause it's invisible to me.

Anonymous said...

Cherniak finally caught on that the LPC is a top down, "elitist" party, which places no value on mass membership involvement and direction. It is a vehicle for power for the few who run the show from the top. As someone without much intelligence, a childish and big ego, and sad lust for power, Cherniak is hitching up with the bad red machine.

Take the upcoming LP leadership race: it will not mobilize the membership to discuss the serious crisis in the Party and to collectively decide upon a new political direction. Instead, and predictably, it will be a top down affair in which the few remaining Liberal believers will get to choose between Coke (Ignatieff), Pepsi (Rae), or Red Bull (Manley) with the lame hope that a symbolic leadership change will make any difference at all.

What is pathetic is that Cherniak declared in public that he wants to get in on the joke that is the LPC.

He never was and never will be "progressive".

Skinny Dipper said...

"(Are there New Democrats who think like this? There must be.)"

I must assume that you mean there may be New Democrats who think like Jason.

My answer is that they are in the Liberal Party.

Greg said...

IP, the Jurist has a related post.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

I saw it when I was in my year at law school in Halifax.

The Young Liberals were all about networking and moving up -- apparatchiks in training. (The true believers on the political left were in the NDP.)

I think it's also more that the Natural Governing Party draws the ambitious. One fishes where the fishes are...

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I must assume that you mean there may be New Democrats who think like Jason.

Well, not who "think like Jason" in general. I mean specifically are there New Democrats who are constantly thinking about "moving up in the party." They must exist, but I'm glad I don't know them.

Ben (The Tiger in Exile) said...

Really, though, look at the leadership -- it's had people like John Turner and Paul Martin as leaders and prime ministers.

Great Canadians, accomplished men, but their main goal was to get to the top job -- once they got it, they had no idea what to do with it.