Saturday, October 24, 2015

Did we Reject Harper or his Agenda?

On the back side of an election loss the Conservative Party is desperately trying to spin a narrative that Canadians rejected Harper but not his rightwing agenda. We should be quick to disabuse the Conservative Criminals of that myth. The fact is that Canadians always rejected the Conservative Party agenda. Harper's Conmen were able to gain political power not because Canadians liked their agenda but because of a perverse combination of our FPTP electoral system, a deeply sympathetic media, an ineffective opposition, and radically divisive strategy on Harper's part.

Of course, we have to ask, after ten years of a disastrous government, what exactly is this "conservative" agenda to which Harper's trained seals continue to refer?? When any of them (and one has to figure that most of the ones speaking up now are seriously considering running for Harper's job) speak about this "conservative" agenda all they offer is "lower taxes and smaller government," as though those two points could possibly constitute a real political program. And even those two pillars of the so-called conservative brand are largely myths. First of all, though corporations and the well-off certainly got some tax breaks from the Harper government, for most people these tax breaks were nothing but smoke and mirrors. Any average Canadian who looks at their tax bill last year and compares it to what they paid in 2005 knows this. But the problem with so-called tax breaks is deeper than this. Because even when you save a few bucks on your taxes, in many cases you end up spending more on services which are suddenly unavailable or suddenly user-pay. The rightwing strategy is to lower taxes by a very small amount and then down-load services to provincial and municipal governments who either have to significantly cut these services or offer them at a much higher cost because of the simple principle of economies of scale (you would think that capitalist, of all people, would understand this basic law). Furthermore, not only is the whole "lower-taxes" narrative a myth (and where it is real it only benefits the wealthy), but so it the "smaller government" narrative. The Canadian government is not measurably smaller today than it was ten years ago. It is smaller in some areas and larger in others. This is just one of those things that rightwingers say that has no basis in fact. (Incidentally, this is also true of the two great "Heroes" of the rightwing, Thatcher and Reagan. They both left the government measurably bigger than they found it)

In other words, the only thing that the CPC seem to be able to point to when they talk about their agenda is simply irrelevant because it is just made up to begin with. Furthermore, I think an increasing number of Canadians are waking up to this and, as I have said before, the new political generation of millennials are wholesale rejecting the idea of a less involved government.

But lets look at the areas of the Conservative agenda (areas that are significantly more 'real' than their mythical narratives) that Canadians are rejecting en masse. Racism, scapegoating, climate-change denial, fear-mongering, war-mongering, loosening up or eliminating environmental regulations, undermining freedom of information, muzzling scientists, disrespecting the public service, the FPTP electoral system, making the military and the RCMP a branch of the governing party, eliminating census data, eliminating gun controls, creating the rule of one man over the entire government, omnibus bills, crippling independent oversight, making a mockery out of question period, proroguing parliament to save your political skin, having the executive branch of government answerable to no one, mocking the courts, ignoring court orders, bribing senators, supporting Israel no matter what, ignoring your own election laws when convenient, the myth of growing crime rates and the need for a 'tough on crime' agenda, holding kittens in election posters, letting the PM be a fan of Nickleback, lego-man hair; these things make up the rightwing agenda and Canadians have rejected them! (Ok, so maybe I added a couple of my own rejections there at the end but you get the picture)

The rightwingers who licked Harper's ass at every opportunity, and stumped for his outrageous polices and even his criminal acts, are desperately trying to tell themselves that Canadians didn't reject their policies but were only tired of their leader. The longer they hold on to this myth, the longer it will take them to understand the changing mood of this country and the even more significant change which is coming. And if we can manage to eliminate the FPTP electoral system it will mean no more Conservative governments in the foreseeable. Now that is music to my ears.


Sixth Estate said...

The worst of it is, I'm not sure "we" rejected him anyways. Harper got roughly the same amount of votes in 2015 as he did in 2011. So people didn't abandon him - not after the economic failures, not after the snitch lines and niqab paranoia, not after anything.

And actually it's even worse than that: you probably know, just like I do, people who decided for the first time not to vote Conservative this election. Which means that in order to maintain his vote numbers, there must have been a pile of other people who watched all that down - the rampant illegality and all of it -- and thought, "yep, I'll have some more of that."

Kirbycairo said...

@Sixth Estate - Yes it is shocking how many people did vote for the Conservatives even after all their criminal behavior. But what people forget is that in gross numbers the Con vote has gone down since 2008. In 2011 they got a majority with fewer actual votes. However, the real bright spot is that voter participation went up fairly significantly this time and it seems clear that if we can dump FPTP then it will go up significantly more again. The real way to beat the Cons consistently is to increase the number of active citizens and get people to vote because they knew in a new electoral system that their vote is not waisted. It seems clear to me that when Cons win it is largely because people are disaffected and fed up with the system itself. This can change and I think that a truer expression of democracy will push governments slowly but consistently farther to the left because they will reflect a generational change in people's ideas about what government is supposed to be.

I sound almost like an optimist.

Owen Gray said...

The Harperites have always been allergic to facts, Kirby. It's no wonder they can't come to terms with the reasons for their defeat.

Lorne said...

One of the things I would dearly love to see, Kirby, is an intrepid journalist ask the Conservatives how they know that their policies were not rejected in this election. Like almost everything this brand of right-winger says, it is based, not on any empirical evidence, but on self-serving rhetoric. Time for somwne to call them on their bullshit.

thwap said...

What did the Harper Conservatives stand for? What were their "big ideas"?

Continued fighting and torture cover-ups in Afghanistan.

Boutique tax-cuts and expansion of income-splitting and tax-free savings accounts.

Abolishing the gun registry.

Full-steam ahead with the carbon economy.

All-out invasions of citizens' privacy.

Mindless participation in the snake-pit of imperialism and sectarianism in the Middle East.


Unilateral abrogation of our treaties with the First Nations.

etc., etc., ... an ugly stew of cruelty and failure.