Monday, November 08, 2010

Rule #1 In Canadian Politics: Nobody Gives A Shit

Not so much an epiphany, but a resignation. The much respected Susan Delacourt opines on the Afghanistan issue with "why the heck are we putting up with Harper's silence on this today?". A great question, that sadly requires the new standard answer in Canadian politics- nobody gives a shit. Blunt, but ooohhhh so accurate.

I believe "nobody gives a shit" has become the template, the premise which underlies almost all of this government's actions. Harper doesn't take questions from the press, at least not in any meaningful way. Does Harper suffer because of this disposition? The answer a resounding no, primarily because you don't suffer consequences when your audience is both disengaged, as well as entirely absent. We don't have national conversations anymore. The fact that something so fundamental as "war" so easily manipulated, illustrates just how much the "nobody gives a shit" thesis has taken hold. All understandings must incorporate this inherent truth to fully appreciate the situation.

I have to give this government begrudging credit, they have accurately exploited the mood of the country. The rampant apathy, the knowledge that the pundits don't matter, the shows, the digestion, the debate, all an esoteric exercise. With each successive "escape", further reinforcement of the shrewd Conservation revelation. We don't "give a shit", which translates to almost dangerous impunity. Shut down committee's, chill the civil service, ignore issues of accountability, etc, obstruct, confuse, dismantle, with little real worry of consequence.

Wondering why a certain issue isn't costing Harper in the polls? Nobody gives a shit. Can't understand how Harper gets away with manipulating the media? Nobody gives a shit. Wonder how the Conservatives can destroy our international reputation? Nobody gives a shit. You get the point, but the key consideration, when we tackle the next "issue", remember that the Conservatives operate with this intimate knowledge and masterfully use it govern this country in whatever fashion they see fit. "Nobody gives a shit" is Rule #1 in understanding Canadian Politics.

20 comments:

Warren K said...

You're smart.

kirbycairo said...

Yes, but why doen't anyone give a shit? isn't this the question? I think it is because the official opposition is so close to the government on so many issues and has entirely failed to capture the imagination of the people of the country. The apathy that has gripped the country will continue until a political figure manages to inspire people with a genuinely alternative vision and not just a slightly different style or a few minor differences on a few issues. But few in the Liberal establishment seem aware of their fundamental failure let alone willing to talk about it.

Steve V said...

A bit more than the kneejerk blame game, but we do need someone to capture people's imaginations in a new way. Ottawa is like another planet, it bears no relationship to ordinary people's lives, even though the decisions impact them daily.

Dana said...

A populist party is germinating in some room somewhere.

But no one will care about that either.

More and more Canada is reverting to the dull, bourgeois, conservative nation of pre-Trudeau.

Christian said...

Steve, I think kirbycairo's first question is relevant, although I don't agree completely with his explanation as to why they are tuned out.

Most people I know are just too busy with every day life. They never get past the headlines on the front page of whatever newspaper they happen to glance at while they are buying something at some store.

I work with many different people on a weekly basis. It is jaw dropping as to how uninformed they are.

That, in my opinion, is why harper gets away with what he does. The percentage of folks who do look past the headlines to figure out what is going on, are a minority compared to the rest of the population. This is what harper knows. This is his game.

Stay out of the spotlight, make sure the herd is repeating his talking points, rely on the right wing media to advance his agenda, and it's a recipe for success.

Kirby, if I understand your point correctly, people don't care because the Liberals are two degrees removed from the cons, is that right?

And if that was your point, how do you explain Layton's failure with regards to never having a realistic chance? Certainly he is far removed from the cons and Libs, yes?

But I do agree we need some new blood. Though I would suggest they capture the media's attention first. Keep them talking about you long enough, and who knows, they too could become as popular as rob ford.

bubba said...

I generally agree with 85% of the Gov'ts decisions. On the other 15 percent I dont see any better offer from the Libs to entice the public. Again here is a chance(Afganistan). Will Iggy say how he differs or just complain and when pushed, say he would probably follow a very similar path. (potash,stimulus,defecit,crime,) which file would they offer a better direction on. If you are not offering a better option then just be quiet. On the file they really differ Daycare,Tax cuts,F-35s an others then make lots of noise. But complaining on issues you are so similar is just a distraction and annoying.

Jerry Prager said...

No one gave a shit that the RCMP fired rubber bullets at protesters as soon as they stopped singing O Canada either.
http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DHeb9BXjYcII%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded
They don't give shit not because they are too busy but because they are like Farm Rabbits in Watership Down, fat and comfortable and eaten one by one much to the horror of the wild rabbits.

Suzanne said...

My two cents:

Nobody gives a shit about the things YOU give a shit about.

Harper gives a shit about the things the people give a shit about.

That's why he's in power, and the Liberals are not.

When the Liberals start giving the shit about what the people care about, they might go somewhere. I doubt that will happen. Liberals are so sure they are so right, they won't listen to anyone else.

And don't trust polls. Polls are not gut feeling. Chretien was actually a genius about guaging public mood. Too bad you pushed him out, he might still be Prime Minister had Paul Martin not engineered a takeover.

JimBobby said...

@Suzanne: Harper gives a shit about the things the people give a shit about.

Like changing the words to O Canada? Like eliminating the Long Form Census? Like caring more about Israel than Canada? Like caring more about Air Canada profits than our troops security in UAE? Like a fake lake?

Oh yeah... hockey. Harper give a shit about hockey so he must be the best person to lead the country.

The successful politicians are the ones who lie most convincingly. Lie convincingly about how you are fiscally responsible while you turn multibillion dollar surpluses into multibillion dollar deficits and you'll succeed. Lie convincingly about how you're going to have all troops out of Afghanistan by 2011 and you'll succeed. Lie convincingly about how your policies (not emptying the public purse and indebting future generations)create jobs and you'll succeed. Lie convincingly about how you care about the environment while you turn lakes into toxic waste dumps and you'll succeed. Lie convincingly about hope and change and continue the same stale, hopeless policies of your predecessor and you'll succeed.

The most worn out yet bought into convincing lie is always the one that promises to cut taxes. Voters keep voting for the best tax-cut lie. When they hear what they want to hear, they're always ready to believe the unbelievable.

Politicians who can't lie convincingly enough (or at all) are not skilled enough to succeed.

FYI, Suzanne, fewer than 40% of the 58% of Canadians who bothered to vote in 2008 supported your particular liar of choice.

People don't give a shit because if they are astute enough to see through the lies and vote for an honest candidate (should there be that rare bird on the ballot), they know damn well that the honest candidate doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell against the convincing liar. Votes given to any candidate other than the first past the post don't count so why bother?

Greg said...

People don't give a shit about politics because they know that politicians don't give a shit what they think, anyway. The vast majority in this country does not agree with this government's policies, but who gives a shit? This government only needs one in three votes to rule, all thanks to our goddamn electoral system.

RuralSandi said...

A lot of people only pay attention at election time - they're busy.

Suzanne - are you in never, neverland?

About Layton wanting Pearson's peacekeeping missions - are peacekeeping missions safe and without violence?

ij said...

Our goddamn electoral system will not be changed as long as those (as in B.C. and Ontario) who are given a half-hearted chance to at least think about changing it end up believing what those in power suggest to them: that anything other than first past the post is too complicated for the poor limited dim Canadian brain. Oh yes, we are so much dumber than other voters in almost any other democratic country. Doesn't that cheer everybody up no end?

ij said...

Our goddamn electoral system will not be changed as long as those (as in B.C. and Ontario) who are given a half-hearted chance to at least think about changing it end up believing what those in power suggest to them: that anything other than first past the post is too complicated for the poor limited dim Canadian brain. Oh yes, we are so much dumber than other voters in almost any other democratic country. Doesn't that cheer everybody up no end?

Kirk said...

I think the public is completely worn out by Harper and have no where to turn for "fair and balanced" reporting in the media.

Remember back to the Martin minority govt and the constant attempts by Harper to bring that govt down including with dirty tricks such as the the edited audio tape.

The media cheered every move, reported it like it was an exciting sporting event cheering their "home team" the Conservatives.

Then when Harper became the PM the media cheered every undemocratic move by Harper to stymie the Liberals such as making every bill a confidence motion so that instead of debating the merits of legislation before the House. We had excited commentary about how the Liberals were being played instead of discussion of policy.

Then we got great "investigative journalism" such as "wafer-gate" which dominated the headlines more than the mismanagement of the Parliament Hill renos have recently.

A Conservative Party now in a govt that has been in constant attack mode since 2004 and appealing only to that 17% of Canadians who form their base plus a media that is as superficial as they are dumb leave the public at a loss for reasons to care.

Kirk said...

@ kirbycairo

The public "didn't give a shit" back under Dion either and Liberal policies were distinctly different from the Conservatives then.

Tof KW said...

"A Conservative Party now in a govt that has been in constant attack mode since 2004 and appealing only to that 17% of Canadians who form their base..."

Sorry but that number is 30%.
That's Harper's base and it ain't going anywhere, other than maybe some of them staying home on election night. If the Grits are waiting for some scandal to come and chip into that 30%, they're going to be waiting a long, long time before they vote non-confidence on anything.

Rather than trying to appeal to that 30% which will not vote Liberal, they should be courting that huge swath of undecided voters the pollsters rarely ever give numbers on anymore.

The only problem with all those undecided voters ...they don't give a shit.

Dame said...

Apathy is the right word as long as we are keeping our FIVE LITTLE CUTE PARTIES running and keep us neatly divided what else is to expect.
there should be only two parties what voters considering to vote for or against.... everything else is a vote for Harper The Dear Leader...
we deserve this.

Tof KW said...

Dame, I prefer our 5 little parties to the cesspool we are witnessing on our southern flank. However with Quebec electing nothing but majority-killing sovereigntists for the foreseeable future, there is a strong case to be made for a single-transferable voting system. We might as well try to have our minority governments actually reflect what the public voted for.

Omar said...

I definitely "give a shit", but am so frustrated and disillusioned with others not giving a shit that I have reluctantly joined their ranks. I fully realize that my actions (or more accurately my lack thereof) is a huge part of the problem our country is facing, but I don't give a shit. Not any longer.

Shiner said...

I don't see any reason to put the blame on politicians. People are stupid and lazy, that's about it. Once upon a time the politically engaged could make up for that. Once upon a time being pre-internet days. Engagement now involves writing angry posts on message boards that nobody reads. At least writing a letter to the editor cost you a stamp.

Suggesting that the apathy is due to politicians or parties gives people waaaaay to much credit.