Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If I were a Liberal . . . .

I have thought and said for a while now, (not than anyone really listens to me on the matter, seeing that I am not a Liberal and have certainly been wrong in the past), that if the LPC has any chance of returning to its former status as the number one party in the country, it needs to do two things; one, shift slightly back to the left where their historical power is, and two, pick a young leader who is forward-looking and ready to introduce real reforms into the party and into the political system in general - reforms that really make our system less top-heavy and more accountable.

Large organizations almost always have trouble reinvigorating themselves when they have gotten too powerful, too comfortable, and frankly too accustomed to their position of advantage. Losing their status as either the first or second party in the country was, it seems to me a result of two basic problems on the part of Liberals. The Liberals shifted a little too far into the rightwing corporatist ideology and they let their position of comfort in power essentially corrupt the political system. Harper's shenanigans are distasteful for sure, but they are really only an extenuation of Chretien's top-heavy, overly strategic approach to the PMO. Canadians have clearly gotten fed-up with the corruption and lack of accountability in our political system, but no party (even the NDP) is presently offering up real solutions to these problems. I believe that the Harpercon's will pay the same price as the Liberals have paid. After a while, they will become the symbol of corruption and lack of accountability. But unless someone does something to change the political culture, we are in a downward spiral to 20 or 30 percent voter turnout and essentially a complete destruction of our democracy.

Since the advent of modern theories of history, beginning with Hegel, many philosophers have thought, especially since the best work of Marx, that real historical changes usually come about by pressure from those outside of the mainstream institutions of power. I am not sure if this is true. I am sure that if the Liberals have any hope of coming back from the political wilderness they need to actually be noticeably left of the Conservatives on economic issues and they need to move into new territory on the democratic and political front.

Though I am not a Liberal, if I were I would be holding out hope that Justin Trudeau would take the helm of the party. But whoever it is who takes the party needs to be a young, forward-looking believer in democracy and the universality that the Liberal Party once stood for. Otherwise, Liberal can just thrown in the towel and realize that without these shifts they are just another version of the Conservative Party.


doconnor said...

If they follow you suggestions they will become another version of the NDP.

kirbycairo said...

Somewhat cryptic comment doconnor - and I am not sure I really understand what you are implying about the Liberal Party or the NDP.

However, I contend that if the Liberals actually moved forward with significant notions of accountability and democracy they would be set apart from the NDP which has not really shown much leadership in this regard. Furthermore, if they abandoned some of their more corporatist ideological inclinations and began to look for actual solutions to corporate excess they could attract many of the voters who have looked toward the NDP in the face the recent economic events.

The fact is that the NDP has gone to right for my liking but I was talking about the LPC's effort to carve out a new place to themselves in the electoral "battleground" so to speak.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that the Liberals have to move to the left, Kirby. I'm still not sure who can take them there.

However, Rae's decision to not run for the leadership makes such a move possible.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with your analysis, KC. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Liberals had been most successful when they campaigned left and then governed from the right. Their dismal failure resulted from moving too far right, especially with Iggy, in the mistaken belief that they were going to attract the disillusioned Cons votes.

One of the scenarios that Chantal Hebert painted in the Toronto Star today that she claimed would put fear in the Cons ranks is that the Liberals attract a "Star" candidate like John Manley or Mark Carney. I think that either Manley or Carney as leader would guarantee the death of the Liberal party, with more progressive votes going to the NDP while being unable to attract the Cons votes as happened under Iggy.

But then Chantal was also the one who predicted in the last election that the NDP was going nowhere in Quebec, and we know how that turned out.

kirbycairo said...

Yes, Anonymous, I agree that a so-called "star" candidate would be the death-knell of the party. They desperately need to be seen as moving into a new future while at the same time recapturing something of the more "liberal" aspect of their past (ie., before their Chretien/Martin, neo-liberal, low 'corporate-tax' days). Someone like Manley, who became a virtual pawn of the Conservative Party with his report on Afghanistan, would just confirm that the Liberals are no different from the Conservatives, thus would be unable to attract those who have gone to the NDP for economic reasons nor those who went to the Conservative Party because they saw no reason to stay with a party that was a de facto conservative party anyway.