As I drive through my neighbourhood, and a very conservative neighbourhood it is, I am struck by the shocking number of Conservative lawn signs that litter the roadway. It shocks me because, well, frankly I am always amazed that people are willing to support a political party after it has proven itself to be not only deeply corrupt but, in many ways, the very antithesis of what it claims to be. I don’t need to catalogue the litany of ways in which the Harper government has, over the past ten years, lied cheated and stolen its way through its time in power. If you are reading this you probably are already painfully aware of that dismal record. There are, of course, those out there who have no real idea of just how terrible and hypocritical the Harper government has been. Those people are, unfortunately, barely worth speaking to. If you have come this far and failed to see what has been going on, it is very unlikely that any amount of discourse will help you see the light. Some people are either too obtuse or too thickheaded to really bother with trying to understand what is going on in their society. So it goes.
These kind of know-nothings are depressing and frustrating but not as aggravating as those who know what is going on but still support the very things that they claim they oppose. Stupidity isn’t evil, even willful stupidity. It is either bred in the bone or grows out of fear. I don’t like it but I expect it, I understand it. What I have trouble understanding are those who know of corruption, of hypocrisy, of evil and dishonest deeds but still stand by their party.
Anyone who has paid attention and understands the political, social, and economic system we live in, knows how corrupt and hypocritical the Harper government has been. So that leaves us with what should be a simple question – why do people do it? Why do they support a government that so willfully disobeys the laws? The only answer that has ever come to mind for me is that partisans such as this operate on the simple assumption that it is ok to do the wrong things for the right reasons. Let me be clear, however, what the wrong things are. Most Conservatives don’t mind that Harper and his cabal sew the seeds of anger and hatred in their politics. A shocking number of Conservatives are motivated by a strange kind of anger and meanspiritedness in their politics. They believe that most people are out there being shiftless and lazy and trying to get something for nothing. They don’t mind, therefore, that Harper expends a tremendous amount of political capital hating on people, for want of a better expression. Thus, the “wrong-things” that Conservative partisans quietly rationalize to themselves (hoping no one will hear them) aren’t the nasty elements of their political machine. No, their rationalizations are about the basic political corruption that we have witnessed, the lying, the fraud, the secrecy, the bending of the rules in the House, the shutting down of debate and discourse, all of those things that the Conservatives told us that they didn’t stand for. Conservatives figure that they can engage in all these acts of dishonesty and malfeasance because the principles of democracy basically thwart their goals, because people are too weak and too unwilling to do the things that they must and democracy will allow them to too closely follow their heart and their compassion. Conservatives, therefore, believe that in the long run it is ok to sidestep democracy, to rationalize lying and corruption because in the end it will work out for the best. This is, in simple terms, why so many people are willing to overlook the worst deeds of their party leaders.
If Harper’s terrible cabal gets reelected it will be because of a combination of basic human stupidity, the angry motivation of much of rightwing politics, and basic (largely immoral) notion that the ends justify the means.