Despite wanting to turn off recent political events, an urge that is motivated by a depressed feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, I have kept a careful watch on things over the past few months, almost like a addict who willingly engages in dangerous activity. Like someone addicted to gambling, I think many of us on the left watch political events because we are continually nagged by the hope that things will get better, that the big win is just around the corner, that people are going to wake up to the shocking evil that has become our government and that in the not too distant future we will watch Harper, like Del Mastro, led away in chains the way he really should be. After all, it is not hyperbole to contend that a man who has so consistently and blatantly disregarded the law (and the Constitution is, after all, the highest law that we have) should pay the price for that disregard. And so, despite my instinct to avoid depression and frustration, I watch the news, read the papers, and scour the blogs.
And I admit that I have been plagued by a tantalizing hope. There is, unquestionably, a growing fatigue with Harper's toxicity, his secretive pathological manner, and his continual attacks on everything and everyone that dares question his supreme authority. Even the MSM, which has been so shockingly remiss for so long, seems to be getting weary of a leader that not only refuses to answer any unvetted questions, but who seems to spend all his waking hours attacking everyone even while he seems hopelessly incompetent on every file and his front bench looks like a whose who of lightweight, mealy mouthed, parrots. Even former allies of Harper in the media now openly admit the remarkable weakness of his cabinet and their seeming inability to take on even the simplest issues without sounding misinformed and comically partizan. In the past few months Harper has looked increasingly Nixonian in his isolation and strangely vitriolic pathology. And it is a condition that has not gone unnoticed by almost everyone except the saddest of the hopeless partizans. Under any normal conditions, these realizations would be leading to a overwhelming defeat at the polls, a genuine condemnation of everything into which Harper has transformed our government and our nation.
However, optimism in this regard is still in fairly short supply because commentators are increasingly warning of the danger in events to come as a result of Harper's perceived desperation at his growing unpopularity. Given that the Conservatives have become serial cheaters in elections, and that they very consciously weakened Elections Canada, there is a growing fear that election fraud on a much larger scale is coming, to say nothing of a new level of vitriolic attacks on opponents. The fact that people even in the MSM are anticipating this turn of events speaks volumes about how low our democracy has sunk. We have now gotten to the point at which even Conservative commentators take it as plausible and even likely that our next election might be mired in fraud and will most certainly be awash with intentional misrepresentations that will try to scare and cajole the voters into voting out of fear. This is, in itself, ominous and depressing.
There are, however, some green sprouts of hope here and there. Despite his foolish (perhaps even fatal) support of Bill C-51, Trudeau is offering up a number of progressive possibilities. Although I find it difficult to have much faith in these given the Liberal Party's rather dismal record of keeping certain progressive promises, I think that Trudeau's reforms are serious and could be far reaching. At the very least, if either the Liberals or the NDP win the next election (even with a minority) this will probably be the last Federal election in Canada with a First Past the Post structure. This is not only good news for democracy in general because any significant reforms will widen political discourse, but it de facto means that another Conservative majority is difficult to conceive of in this country. I think any serious electoral reform from full on PR to just weighted voting will mean more progressive government because in the three major nations that doggedly hold on to First Past the Post, the population in general is considerably more progressive than the government on many issues.
Thus I feel at once full of hope and uneasy about our immediate future. I put absolutely NOTHING past Harper and his minions in their desperate desire to stay in power. But if people are weary enough, and angry enough with the ten years of destruction that Harper has wrought, genuine malfeasance or a coup might be something that Canadians are now not willing tolerate. Even if I am rather pessimistic about people, history is so full of surprises that a coup or widespread fraud on the part of Harper might even be met with a genuine popular uprising.
I wait with bated breath.