Watching the Senate scandal slowly unfold has been a strange experience for those of us who have always despised Harper and his government. One the one hand, we are gratified to see a scandal that finally seems to be sticking to this despicable man. On the other hand, we are weary of continually pointing out scandal after scandal of this corrupt, anti-democratic, fiscally irresponsible government and can't help but wonder why it has taken so long for Harper to significantly drop in the polls. Just the other day I was making a list of the scandals of this government and even I was surprised by how long the list has grown. Yet, like the bizarre, ideologically blind members of so-called "Ford Nation," Harper's followers seem to have an almost supernatural ability to overlook, or happily justify actions from their party and leader that they claim are anathema to their ideology. I am fairly certain that if a Liberal or NDP government had had this many scandals there would have already been genuine uprisings in the streets. But conservative followers have not only tolerated Harper's malfeasance, they have employed a double-speak in which an action they would condemn in others they actively celebrate in their leader.
So it goes.
However, as I look at this thing unfolding, it occurs to me that such a scandal was, to a certain degree, inevitable. But the reasons for this inevitability are complex. You see, Harper has never been a popular leader. Instead he has relied on a strange, difficult formula to gain and maintain power. This formula has been a combination of disaffecting many voters, small-scale but consistent electoral fraud, ruthless control of his caucus, surrounding himself with startlingly incompetent and ineffectual yes-men who don't even vaguely understand when he is doing so they follow him blindly, finding every possible way of limiting public and political debate or discourse, continually attacking political opponents, and in large part legislating by stealth. Such a strategy requires a serious degree of control for any leader. The problem is that Harper is not really a leader. Rather, he is a dictator, and dictators are notoriously incapable of taking ownership of their mistakes. Harper's personality requires that he makes ALL the decisions. But his personality also makes him incapable of seeing anything as a mistake. Thus, if something goes wrong, it must, by his reckoning, be someone else's fault. And since everyone makes mistakes, and control freaks who refuse anyone's counsel end up making more mistakes than most, this situation leads to an inevitable problems. In other words, a guy like Harper, unable to face up to his shortcomings, inevitably throws people under buses. And eventually you either run out of people or you betray the wrong ones.
Harper's years in power have been a litany of scandals and corruption. But since his political formula has meant that he could win power and maintain it with a small portion of the electorate (and an even smaller portion of the citizenry), he has ridden out scandal after scandal with little concern for what most people think. However, the reality of this is that Harper only has to lose a little bit of support and anger just enough people to cause them to vote again and he will lose power. And this seems to be finally happening. It is a simple truism, piss off the wrong people and you will cause your own demise. All that needs to happen is that a small portion of the conservative base stay home, and a small portion of swing voters finally abandon the Harper cabal, and he could suffer a huge defeat.
For now we will have to wait for 2015 because, like his buddy Rob Ford, Harper is totally incapable of admitting mistakes so nothing but an all-out caucus revolt will drive him from office before the next election.