I'm wrestling with how to vote on Monday and I probably will be even as I take pencil in hand in the booth. It's unfortunate they don't have a specific "none of the above" option because that's the way I'm feeling right now.
A good deal of my problem is that I'm coming to see the NDP, Liberal and Conservative leadership as something of a gelatinous mass. I suppose it's the predictable result of the Liberal leadership/policy vacuum that left the centre ground up for grabs. Harper moved to the left, Layton to the right and Iggy fought for air between them.
Travis Fast, over at Relentlessly Progressive Political Economy, illustrates the point:
...The NDP has long since jettisoned, something Stephen celebrates and I lament, any commitment to the types policies that would restore the governments capacity to unwind the inordinate amount of power the corporate sector wields over the public. Without such “radical” options in their public policy arsenal they will be more or less forced to make the same type of trade-off’s.
The fix is in. Just as America fell to a corporatist Congress, Canada has been overtaken by a corporatist Parliament. Nobody, including Jack, seems willing to accept that 18th century capitalism, 19th century industrialism and 20th century geopolitics have run their course, have lost much of their former utility. Layton, Ignatieff and Harper all seem committed to governing as though we were still in the 80's. They're all stuck in the "growth and jobs" paradigm, a mechanical frame of mind that all but rules out vision at the very moment when we most need vision from our political leadership.
It's becoming increasingly harder to shove our heads in the sand. Globally we're already well into what has been called the "Century of Revolution." The evidence of the unrest that has already broken out or is quietly building through the developing economies and Third World is everywhere. Yet the reality of this is not even on the radar screens of our leadership. Are we to assume that, even if Canada remains stable, we'll be immune to the upheaval elsewhere? The indifference of our amorphous political leadership appears to assume just that.
Our civilization is beginning to slam into a wall that limits what is a genuinely finite world. Many resources remain in abundance but others, including some essential to a stable world, are becoming depleted or critically scarce. When demand (as in the sum of both want and need) exceeds supply, want loses its currency while need persists and grows in importance. This is where we either shift from a growth-based consumption model into an equity-based allocation model or else accept some seriously brutal alternatives. Again our amorphous political leadership appears oblivious.
Anthropogenic or man-made global warming is here and spawning climate change effects. Some of the best and brightest warn that we have a limited time left to break our carbon addiction or risk triggering unstoppable feedback mechanisms, runaway global warming that will move earth into a new climate mode that will render most of our planet inhospitable to most life. Yet again our amorphous political leadership mumbles vague promises about cap and trade measures that experience shows they have no intention of implementing on any effective basis. It's all greenwash and nothing more unless it is harnessed to a powerful break in our carbon addiction.
Even if we were willing and able to end our carbon addiction tomorrow and managed to do just that on a global scale, existing carbon emissions will continue the heating process for at least another century. We're in for a century of sea level rise; severe storm events of increasing frequency and intensity; precipitation pattern changes leading to extended drought and flood cycles impacting on our food security; species migration and extinction (and the resulting spread of pests and disease) - and this is just for starters.
We're not alone. Every corner of the planet is in for this. We are, however, unique. We're one of just a handful of countries that, by virtue of their geographical placement, stand to be the last and least affected. We also enjoy certain demographic and resource advantages necessary to meet these challenges. Yet most of this bounty, these advantages, won't be realized on their own unless they're harnessed to our service in a timely and effective manner. Again we're met with a deafening silence from our amorphous political leadership. They alone have the power and resources absolutely essential to initiating the information, evaluation, planning and implementation processes of climate change adaptation but they show absolutely no willingness to act.
I suspect the reason that Layton, Ignatieff and Harper seem so amorphous, so gelatinous is because none of them has any real vision and I'm pretty sure the reason they're all so devoid of vision is because each is working so hard to avoid acknowledging the great and pressing challenges facing our country. They have no vision because they're all looking backward, imagining they're still in the 80's. None of them has the courage to look forward and tell us what they see.