Monday, January 06, 2014

The Politics of Giving Up

Since the ascendancy of Stephen Harper I have been utterly demoralized by the lacklustre effort shown by  the opposition parties.   Dion came out with the "Green Shift."  Ignatieff was a study in the art of doing nothing.  Trudeau?  Can't see that he's much better.  Layton and Mulcair have focused most of their effort on defeating the Liberals, not Harper.  The public, meanwhile, has become disaffected, disengaged.

In the latest Harper's, Thomas Frank tackled a remarkably similar malaise in the Democratic ranks that may have actually saved the Republicans from self-immolation.

What is the pattern that connects these various obsessions of the progressive hivemind — the generational cycle, demographic advantage, racist robots, and gerrymandering?

The answer: each of them is an excuse for doing nothing. Why bother getting out there and building majorities capable of sweeping the G.O.P. out for good? There’s no need, insist Democrats of the optimistic kind, who believe that the impersonal hand of history will soon deliver the world to their doorstep, tied with a bow. (Ralph Nader, who has been observing the progressive collapse for decades, is irked by the demographic argument, which he described to me as “the verbal equivalent of anesthesia for the Democratic party.”) Nor is there much point in persuading Republican voters, because those guys are basically the Klan. Whichever way you choose to see it, it doesn’t make much difference. Pop another can of Duff. Don’t bother getting out of your chair.

The underlying philosophy is one of pure fatalism, of politics as a mechanical process. Everyone’s mind is already made up, insofar as they have minds. Vast forces propel angry white men this way and people under thirty that way. You and I can watch and deplore; we can blog and fund-raise, but we can’t do much more than that. Futility is a way of life for us.

Tell me that today's Liberals and New Democrats haven't slid into this same indifference.  They're not championing measures to correct our democratic deficit, to restore a free press for Canada, to tackle inequality in all its guises, to respond to our environmental catastrophe.  It's the politics of giving up, the catatonic wait for "the impersonal hand of history" to "deliver the world to their doorstep, tied with a bow."


Anonymous said...

The opposition are absolutely useless. They stand by while, Harper is destroying Canada. That Harper is handing Canada's over to Communist China and giving our jobs to Communist China? They say and do nothing.

There is no doubt, Harper used his robo-call fraud to win the election. This is the main reason, our younger generation don't vote

Harper is in BC, selling the rest of BC's resources to Communist China. There are thousands of Chinese coming, to take the Northern BC mine jobs.

Okie said...

About the journey from there, to here. Although I'm no fan of the Globes Konrad Yakabuski, he does summarize some of the 'root cause' of what brought about the conditions you write about here. I don't think he intended his article to be enlightening in the way it is, I think he may have inadvertently pointed to reasons why so many now feel so disengaged and powerless.

"In 1992, Mr. Clinton moved the Democratic Party from the left-of-centre wilderness, where it had wallowed under previous presidential nominees Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, to the pro-business centre. Nothing epitomized this shift more than the deregulation of Wall Street that occurred on Mr. Clinton’s presidential watch. His Treasury chief, Robert Rubin, spent a quarter-century at investment bank Goldman Sachs before joining the administration.

The policies enacted under Mr. Rubin and his underling and eventual successor at Treasury, Lawrence Summers, are widely seen as paving the way for the unsupervised financial bonanza that led to the 2008 crash. Together with Republican George W. Bush’s tax cuts, the financial industry bonuses that flowed from Mr. Clinton’s economic and tax policies are blamed for creating the growing chasm between the richest 1 per cent of Americans and the other 99 per cent."

To offer a begrudged defense of today's Democrats and our Opposition parties, I do realize it's become about the money, all about the money needed to pull off an election victory and getting the media onside. A very difficult task given who has the money and is willing to plunk it down and who controls the media.

If Democracy is going to survive, the big money has to be removed from the equation. However, common sense and recent history says they will not go quietly into the night. They are like a hybrid malicious computer virus and will do anything to maintain their position. Anything.

Before Clinton however, there was a Nixon guy who was very upset with the Republicans and the US political and economic atmosphere in general. I can't remember his name, but he believed Nixon and the Republican Party were too far to the left and that was greatly hurting Corporate interests. He became known by those in the know as the Grandfather of lobbying and of course all the lobbies he worked to grow were for the benefit of the Corporate takeover that we are now experiencing.

I have read that Obama doesn't care for Bill Clinton, which is telling. I don't care for Clinton's wife either. I hope voters in the US don't have to choose between her and some other like minded but less brash candidate foisted on them by the Republicans who allow the likes of the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson to have such prominent roles in their Party. Old Gangsters and Robber Barons used to be the enemy of the American people, or so folk lore and Hollywood led us to believe. :)

The Mound of Sound said...

Well put, Okie. Thanks.

Okie said...

By less brash, I meant in comparison to most of what the Repubs offered up in their last Presidential primary.

That was almost as baffling as the popularity of the TV series, the Walking Dead.

Santorum, Gingrich, Bachmann, Cain? Commander in Chief? Shiver me old Maritimers timbers.

John B. said...

The gentleman to whom Okie is referring may be Justice Lewis Powell Jr., whose notable 1971 memo to the US Chamber of Commerce titled “"Attack on the American Free Enterprise System", may have led the way to the establishment in 1972 of the Business Roundtable as well as to some other now well-known market libertarian “think tanks” and ideologically-dedicated lobbying firms.


The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, John, for the links. It's remarkable that Powell depicted American Big Business under attack in 1970 at the pinnacle of its power.

I wonder what Powell would have made of his own opinion over the subsequent decades. The facts he states in his opinion were often wobbly at best and might have given him cause to rethink some of his views in later years.