Monday, June 18, 2007

What Is A "Bad" Liberal?

A couple of months ago, the Daily Canuck put one of my entries in their blog roundup, and asked:
Is a Liberal who doubts his party’s leader current effectiveness a bad Liberal? If so, it seems there’s a lot of bad Liberals out in blog land. Far And Wide’s Steve V for instance.

That comment made me wonder, am I a "bad" Liberal? I tend to get a lot of resistance from other Liberals when I criticize the leader or the party direction. It as though any negativity is counter-productive, because energies should be directed at the real target.

In my mind, a "bad" Liberal is someone who spins every flaw, so much so that their commentary is largely irrelevant and predictable. Any problem is countered, any concern is downplayed. I appreciate why that mentality exists, but it I find that a dangerous attitude. That perspective conveys a complacency, a relative acceptance, that doesn't attach any urgency.

I have written many positive posts about Dion and the party, where I felt warranted. At the same time, my criticisms have been quite harsh when addressing the problems, that I feel exist. IMHO, it is better to admit you have a problem in a honest way, because through that recognition you are more likely to find solutions. Diagnose correctly, move forward. Criticism can sometimes be a positive, rationalization can be a hinderance to needed change.

In many ways, I think Harper's problems are masking the Liberal deficits. As the Conservatives fall in the polls, controversies everywhere, it provides a comfort level and the cup is half full. However, I don't think that reality should distract us from the other storylines, which are equally as persuasive. I want to point out those flaws, and if that makes me a "bad" Liberal, so be it :)

24 comments:

knb said...

You're not a bad Liberal Steve.

I think you take a reasoned position and incite debate and I for one, appreciate that. You encourage me to think my stance through.

I do not defend Dion at all costs, but I do hold the view that the info we the public actually have access to, is quite limited. I've said many times, I think the media is lazy and therefore we formulate arguments based on their limited take.

If we had more rigorous, in depth reporting, we could really explore the issues. As it stands, we have what we have. (Speaking of which, have you read Hersch's latest in the New Yorker?)

Anyway, for what it is worth, I think you are a good Liberal, citizen and blogger for that matter, who challenges convention. That is what we should be doing, imho.

Mentarch said...

Dippers are obviously grasping at straws - I wouldn't worry about this.

Besides - questioning leads to "greater faith", right? ;-)


(Great site, btw! I've added your blog on my blogroll) ;-)

Steve V said...

"If we had more rigorous, in depth reporting, we could really explore the issues."

It is a shame that some opinions are predicated on how things "play", as opposed to substance.

Thanks for the feedback, I like lively discussion, and being challenged, it helps the thought process.

mentarch

Thanks for the link, I like your blog too. Heady stuff :)

Woman at Mile 0 said...

Well you know I also think about what the other guys negatives (Liberal candidates for Leader) were if they had been elected and all of them would have faced a lot of problems in the face of seasonal attack ad advertising. It is good to explore but remember what everyone faced. No one would have had a smooth ride.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

Sorry meant girls too. yikes

knb said...

woman, lol, well said though.

Steve V said...

"It is good to explore but remember what everyone faced. No one would have had a smooth ride."

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Well, as the anonymous commenter who reads almost all of your posts - and most of the other bloggers who've commented on this topic as well - I think you do a really good job. I find your posts thoughtful and honest. I don't expect to agree with every post; but I do hope they will make me think and hope I will find them intellectually honest. You have been very positive when you felt it, and criticized when you felt it was appropriate.

No one needs an echo chamber; otherwise why would you all be here?

As for your basic assessment, I also believe the conservatives have done themselves more damage than the liberals have thus far succeeded in rebuilding themselves. However, i do think the liberal brand has recovered more than you suspect, in part because the conservatives don't have any credibility anymore when try to tear it down. On a more positive note, I don't think Dion has made any serious missteps or mistakes - and that counts for more than you may give credit. If he had made a number of missteps to date or appeared to be trying to hard to be somethign he was not, I think it might have harmed his reputation and the liberal reputation.

The public may not yet envision him as their leader, but I sense the majority of Canadians trust he is true to his beliefs. After years in public life and 18 months in office, I don't think the public knows what Harper believes, except in the power of personal attacks.

And on one specific item, I still believe that Dion's willingness to go against the grain and enforce party discipline to defeat the extension of the terror provisions was a critical step. In that move - widely criticized at the time - he set the tone for the opposition. It said, 'we will do what we think is right, not what is politically expedient." That it happenned so early in his reign reflects well upon him and his leadership style.

I've spoken too long . . . sorry.

Steve V said...

"I don't think Dion has made any serious missteps or mistakes - and that counts for more than you may give credit. If he had made a number of missteps to date or appeared to be trying to hard to be somethign he was not, I think it might have harmed his reputation and the liberal reputation."

anon, leave a name :)

That is a great point, Dion hasn't really made any serious blunders to date. Mistakes for sure, but nothing that has risen to the level of the Conservatives troubles. I probably should give that more weight in my mental math.

Scott Tribe said...

I don' think you're a bad Liberal, Steve.. I think you base conclusions and willingly accept #'s far too often on unreliable and questionable Angus-Reid online polling.. but other then that, you're ok :)

Steve V said...

Scott

If that poll was in isolation, then it would be easier to dismiss. The fact is, the online poll is consistent with other findings. Also, the online poll was the closest to predicting the real results in the recent Quebec and Manitoba elections, so they might be refining the medium.

I freely admit to being a poll junkie though :)

DavidA said...

Always disagree when you feel you must. Dont let the blinders of partisan politics force you to walk the plank. Im most likely off to the right if I must be defined. I shred Harper when he has it coming...so don't be afraid to blast Dion when he does something idiotic. No political group/party should ever endorse fascism, though all do quite frequently. Dissent is the true freedom of democracy. It is our inherent right to disagree. Do it and never think twice about the consequences of a well thought out dissemination of your opinons amigo.

Gayle said...

Steve - the "bad" liberals are the ones providing anonymous comments to the media questioning Dion's leadership and suggesting Rae/Iggy would have been the better choice.

You do not provide your criticism anonymously and it is instructive, not destructive.

Dissent is necessary, but I sometimes think the fact some liberals demand the party be higher in the polls smacks of that arrogance that so many of the electorate reject.

The liberals are the opposition because of their own actions. A new leader was never going to simply wipe the slate clean, no matter who took over that role.

I believe the liberals and the NDP are doing an excellent job of holding the current government accountable, and preventing them from implementing some of their more destructive policies. Dion was right when he took credit for preventing the spring election. That was a huge accomplishment. He is doing a good job.

While I would dearly love to see the back of Harper, I think we are going to stay with this minority government for at least another year.

Steve V said...

"While I would dearly love to see the back of Harper, I think we are going to stay with this minority government for at least another year."

Pencil me in for spring 2008.

You're right, the opposition has done a good job of late. I particularly like the tone, where they seem to act in unision, instead of fighting amongst themselves.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

I am a news junkie Steve so I turned it into a blogging habit. They seem to go together. Polls... well I have been highly suspicious since they all got it so wrong in the last election...well except SES of course.

Steve V said...

"Polls... well I have been highly suspicious since they all got it so wrong in the last election...well except SES of course."

This might sound like a crazy idea, but given the fact that polls often drive the media discouse, is it time for some independent verification of methodology? By that I mean, people with agendas can actually shape perceptions. I subscribe to the notion that the media criticisms and/or positive coverage take their cues from what the polls tell us. Parties are aware of this fact, so it is in their interest to have friendly polling. Maybe we need a polling auditor to keep everything on the up and up, within reason.

Woman at Mile0 said...

I agree it does drive media criticism. I would also say that SES had the best audit matching results of all (the election results).

Canadian Tar Heel said...

As other commentators express, this blog has always been honest. The feedback and criticism within the Liblog community is refreshing from the predictable political hackery, which seems so pervasive in the blogosphere. I've come to find this blod dependable in its thoughtfulness, reality-based commentary and appreciation for nuance. In my opinion, such credibility makes for a good L/liberal.

Steve V said...

Thanks tarheel, always appreciate your comments :)

Anonymous said...

I'd prefer a critique and facing problems than hiding your head in the sand and believing your leader has no faults. The CPC supporters would hold Harper up on a pedestal even if he shot their mother. Hero worship can be dangerous.

Harper and Chretien had really bad numbers (Chretien especially in Quebec) when they were in opposition.

Dion can learn from this and improve. Harper believes he is the end all and won't improve.

Constructive criticism is good.

I like your site and you are not a bad Liberal.

Sandi

ottlib said...

Steve, you are not a bad Liberal because you have the good of the Party and the good of the country at heart in your critiques.

However, I would point out that your critiques are your opinion of a situation and not fact.

I often offer alternative opinions to your critiques that often are not as negative as your opinions. That does not mean that I am downplaying the problems or their potential impact.

My opinions are honest ones based on over 20 years of observing Canadian politics from both inside and outside political circles. (Which is not to say that my opinions are the right ones or will be proven to be the right ones.)

I am amazed at how often things repeat themselves in politics. The situations do not change just the players.

Alot of what we have being recently seeing with the Liberal Party I saw happening to the Liberals during the Mulroney years. As well, I saw alot of the same things happening to the Reform Party and its many incarnations during the Chretien years.

The Liberal Party has had its problems recently but they are not extraordinary so their solutions are not difficult to come by. Unfortunately, those solutions take time to work and they do not follow a straight line.

So I hope that you will keep pointing out any problems you believe need to be pointed out but do not be surprised if I offer alternative opinion.

Indeed, if I do not have an alternative opinion I usually do not bother to make a comment. Debates are no fun if everybody agrees with each other.

The Mound of Sound said...

Of course you're a bad liberal, one of the worst. If you weren't bad, why would you question if you were? What could be worse than questioning whether you're bad? The mind boggles Steve.

Mushroom said...

This is my test for what makes a "bad" Liberal.

Did you participate in a mutiny that made Jamie Carroll having trouble sleeping at night?

Unlike the Mound of Sound, that blogger has been using the small "l" instead of the big "L". MoS has already provided major doubts on the renewal process and is in danger of not being accomodated within the broad church of the party.

So rest assure Steve, you are still in good standing.

Steve V said...

"However, I would point out that your critiques are your opinion of a situation and not fact."

And here I thought I spoke the absolute truth ;)