Sunday, December 14, 2008

Political Hypocrisy

It is always the hypocrisy in politics that makes me crazy. People will rationalize and justify things that are done by the party or parties that they sympathize with, but if the party they opposed did the exact same thing they will criticize them with visceral aggression. The recent events are a very good example of this hypocrisy. Harper prorogued parliament because he didn’t have the confidence of the House. If a Liberal had done this Conservatives everywhere would be going crazy telling us all that this is a typical example of the Demagoguery that is in the very nature of the Liberal Party. We would never hear the end of it! This is what drives me crazy. It is just pure hypocrisy.

People’s reactions to labour disputes are another common example of political hypocrisy. People will fight and complain about their own working conditions no end, but if some group of workers is willing to go on strike to defend their rights for better working condition, then anyone who is inconvenienced by this strike will go on alarmingly about how greedy and inconsiderate the workers are and how they shouldn’t even have the legal right to strike.

Political hypocrisy is consistently evident in the always problematic area of political promises. Politicians constantly make promises that they either have no intention of keeping or should know that they probably cannot keep. And political supporters always rationalize these broken promises. The Liberals didn’t eliminate the GST even though they said they would. They knew that they probably would be unable to keep such a promise. And their failure to follow through was rationalized by Liberal supporters and has been an area of criticism for Conservative ever since. And remember when the elected members of the Reform party said that they would never take the MP pensions? When they opted to accept the pensions, most of their supporters just quietly forgot their promise. Now we have Harper who said he would never appoint unelected senators, and is now about to appoint twenty of them right after a precedent setting proroguing of parliament. No problem, quick rationalization and the Conservatives actually blame the Liberals for the broken promise, suggesting that they have left Harper with no choice. This is rich! Not only do they break promises they blame their political opponents for forcing them into it.

In many cases the politicians simply make promises that they know they won’t be able to keep. This demonstrates political opportunism and lack of leadership. Our mayor here in Ottawa made a big deal of running on a promise that he would ensure Zero city tax increases. Now, besides the fact that this is an irresponsible promise because the city taxes should at least keep up with inflation, the mayor has no power to keep such a promise since taxes are determined not by the Mayor’s office but by the council in general. Then, when taxes predictably rise, the mayor’s supporters don’t blame him for making a promise that he had absolutely no way of being sure that he could keep, instead they blame the council for undermining the mayor. Similarly Harper has, for years now, been making a big deal about the fact that he would NEVER run a deficit. This is a promise that anyone who has any sense of how the federal budget works knows you might not be able to keep. If a government looses tax revenues half-way through the year because of a sudden economic downturn, they have already made spending commitments which will result in a deficit, pure and simple. But when the Harper government goes into deficit do you think its supporters will blame Harper for a broken promise? Will people say that he should never have made such a promise because as a trained economist he should have known better? No, Conservative supporters will say it’s not his fault, it is just the economic forces beyond his control. But of course if the Liberal did the same thing Harper would be on television everyday telling us what hypocrites and poor leaders the Liberals are.

How exhausting!

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