Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Standing for something. . . .

It seems that nowadays Political Parties stand for as little as possible, at least at the public level. Just look at the recent victory of the Harper Conservatives, they have consistently attempted to run on nothing, as though they are the Seinfeld of the political arena. The Liberal Party of Canada has also tried to stand for little, though I must give them credit, when Martin ran for Prime Minister he actually had some important platform issues not least of which were the Kelowna Accord, Universal Childcare, and the defence of gay marriage. Unfortunately when Dion attempted to stand for something in an election (the Green Shift) he lost badly. Similarly, John Tory here in Ontario lost an election on one issue alone - the funding of religious schools. In the States the Democratic Party has been running on nothing Since McGovern lost while trying to end the war in Indo-China. Barack Obama ran on some vague cheerleader's platform that said "Yes We Can," but what exactly "we can" do was never clear. And since he won it has become pretty clear that anything that we thought Obama might have stood for, he didn't.

The right-wing in Canada has become much like the right-wing in the US - it exists on vague notions of economic competence (entirely belied by the facts), strong military (totally belied, again, by their complete lack of support for veterans.), and calling all their opponents terrorist sympathizers and communists. Meanwhile what they really stand for is the total destruction of democracy, the gutting of all social programs, and the effort to make sure that the majority of Canadians become poorer and will eventually not be able to afford a privatized education and health system. Only, like real cowards, they will never say what they actually stand for in the public arena.

The only national party that now stands for anything is the NDP, though I sat that with only qualified support because that party too has become increasingly vague about their ideals. But at the very least the NDP stands for protecting universal health, education, and protection of those who are most vulnerable. Of course, many Canadians still buy the mainstream spin that the NDP is a radical socialist party that would instantly nationalize all industry, but those who pay attention know better. But then people are remarkably foolish as they constantly display in their attacks on Unions. So much of what we enjoy in our society from universal education and health, to the forty hour work week and legislation that protects workers and consumers, we owe in large part to Union activists. Furthermore, as wages in Western nations have stagnated in the past generation they have done so in direct correlation with the decline of union membership. Unions are certainly not perfect, but they actually stand for something, and that is the improvement of people's lives and living conditions.

My prediction is that people and political groups will continue to avoid standing for anything meaningful until the Conservative agenda is successful enough to make it clear that all they care about is the rich and when the majority have lost their rights, their incomes, their decent homes, and everything else, then the struggle will have to begin all over. One day people will suddenly wake up and think 'Wow, how did we let them turn back the clock to the 19th century??"

No comments: