Friday, November 1, 2013

The Seven Year Harper Blues. . . .

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.


The Mound of Sound said...

Any premier or prime minister sets the moral tone for his/her caucus. We witnessed this with Brian Mulroney and Grant Devine. We witness it today with Harper's caucus in the Commons and the Senate.

What has been remarkable is how successful Harper has been in distancing himself from the obvious handiwork of his own iron fist.

Yes, it does become quite wearing to endure this corruption, year after year.

I guess what is most bothersome is the numbers of Canadians who still support Harper. I have turned my back to leaders of my party over conduct that paled compared to Harper's standard fare. What does this say for Harper's base who choose to look the other way, again and again and again?

gingercat said...

I can't remember what show I was watching last night but one commenter on the program said that Ford's base sticks by him because they on focus on fiscal responsibility. They admire that he supplies his own paperclips and feel like his gravy train analogy is true.
I feel like the same can be said about the Federal Conservatives. He's targeted tax credits to appeal to them and for some unknown reason to me they think he's done an excellent job on the economy.
The reason why the Senate scandal has attracted so much attention is because it comes down to gravy train issues. Harper is wearing this one for many reasons, but the very fact that he appointed them is going to have some repercussions this time. By how much is anyone's guess but this is one issue that will stick.

Owen Gray said...

If Harper were wise enough to invite someone into his council who would tell him the unvarnished truth, Kirby, he might have avoided what is happening now.

But the prime minister has never been secure enough to seek out opposing views.