Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Will There Be a Tipping Point?

For years now, those of us who vehemently oppose this Conservative government, and their modus operandi, have been waiting for some sort of tipping point, wherein they go to far, the offend to blatantly and in so doing pay a irrepairable price with voters. You can point to many past examples where it appeared that political damage had been done, only to see the Conservatives rebound, instead of erosion, a GROWING mandate. In many ways, these Conservatives have become the teflon government, nothing sticks, what appears problematic from time to time wanes and never reaches critical mass.

I mention the above in the context of this Bob Rae piece, where he argues that the Conservatives newfound arrogance will be their ultimate undoing:

The lack of civility and democratic debate in Parliament has become a major problem — and ultimately it will come back and bite the Conservative government, says Liberal interim leader Bob Rae.

"I think it's going to turn out to be a very, very deep Achilles heel on the part of this government," Rae said in an exclusive interview with Postmedia News on Tuesday. "I think it's going to be a quality of this government which ultimately will be to its demise."

The article comes with another warning from The Speaker on civility, the lack thereof, a theme we've heard before and frankly one that has failed to resonate beyond the "diehard" crowd. Instead of public outrage with each successive breakdown of democratic underpinning, we get more indifference, more apathy, people tune out, they don't get mad. This dynamic explains why the Conservatives operate with relative impunity, why political geeks are left scratching their heads when apparent "big deals" generate small ripples that fizzle out, time after time.

Is Bob Rae correct in his prediction, or is this latest bout of outrageous behaviour just a moment in time, with little long term damage apparent? I would argue that we are seeing a different Conservative government, that this majority has brought a newfound arrogance the previous minority configurations tended to blunt. The Conservatives have a different swagger, you see it in how they respond, you can sense it from their MP's and minions, a completely dismissive tone, that has a distinct authoritarian spirit. This pre-disposition has always been part of the Conservative makeup, but again, without the threat of election, without full control of all levers of power, it was at least muted to a tolerable level. Now, having finally achieved the ultimate goal, Canadians are starting to see the true nature state of the Harper regime and I do see potential for "achilles heels" and some blowback.

At some point, Canadians will say enough is enough, it will come without predictive signs or mounting evidence. Perceived arrogance has brought down governments of all political stripes and rarely do they see it coming and address before it's too late. Given that these Conservatives simply can't help themselves, given that I truly believe we are now witnessing the unshackled beast roaming in it's natural habitat, there is some room for optimism that a true tipping point will be achieved. I would also argue a compelling, "decent" alternative presentation can speed this process along...

13 comments:

900ft Jesus said...

I think you're right. I'm sure you've noticed a marked change in some major media voices as well. Even the Occupy movements have some impact in shifting the perceptions of our nation, whether people realize it or not.

Helps a lot that the Libs are more on the offensive as well. Taking the discourse outside of the House is a great idea, and they have been doing that more.

Sean Cummings said...

I think that it's less of an issue of tipping point and more of an issue where people just get tired of the same government and want change for the sake of change. All governments eventually run out of fresh material, the current one is no different than any other government. The question is whether or not there is another party Canadians are willing to support - right now, there isn't. I'd like it to be Liberals as I've gravitated between Liberal and Tory for the past twenty years. It will just depend on whether the Liberals can come up with some fresh ideas of their own.

Steve V said...

I don't think Canadians have ever liked the bully aspect to this government, but a combination of weak alternatives, other issues mattering more and not true focus have allowed a "scot free" scenario. But, with this majority, it seems much more a central theme that has potential for real erosion.

Steve V said...

"The question is whether or not there is another party Canadians are willing to support - right now, there isn't."

Absolutely, it doesn't matter if there isn't a potent force to exploit the soft underbelly. As well, armed with some true reformist ideas on the "democracy" front will bring in sceptics and address apathy.

kirbycairo said...

It seems pretty plain that a deep arrogance and corruption coupled with a pattern of getting away with anything will lead any government (particularly one as Tyrannical as this one) to an increasing tendency to ignore rules and act with a disregard for optics. Rae is, I believe, wrong to say that civility is the Achilles heel of this government. Rather, it is the combination of a obsessive hatred of any dissent, a disregard for basic rules, and dangerously tyrannical undertow. At some point a big public event which demands a gentle, conciliatory hand will arise (as it always does) and the heavy, brutal response will make the entire house of cards fall. The rats will leave the sinking ship, the media (which has been so overwhelmingly supportive) will turn, and the public (which is usually fairly apathetic) will get angry.

It is the same formula that has brought down countless such politicians like Richard Nixon.

sassy said...

Just after the 2006 Jan election, I thought the tipping point was going to come within six months.

Now I realize that the penny is dropping ever so slowly for the the MSM and the population in general.

It's an abusive relationship to be sure - they'll put up with it for so long and than SNAP! (or as you refer to it, the tipping point)

Carmichael said...

You all seem to have a fairly high opinion of the the engagement and intelligence of the populace.

Why is that? What has led you to that opinion? Do you have evidence or is it a matter of faith?

Based on what I sense around me and in the national media (which are no longer unthinkingly uncritical) I can't imagine what a tipping point would look like.

Rotting emaciated corpses of missing journalists and opposition members found in the basements of 130 Albert Street?

More Canadians would cheer than I'm comfortable about acknowledging.

I don't really think a lot of progressives in this country get what's happening here.

The country has regressed, and continues to regress, to it's condition in the 1950s and early sixties. Politically conservative with grace notes of social conservatism. Fiscally conservative to a fault. And forelock tuggingly deferential to the USA no matter what.

In the current partisan climate this is not going to be reversed or altered.

Get used to it or go mad.

Or change the partisan climate.

kirbycairo said...

Dear Carmichael - what happened right after the late 50s and early 60s? If we extend your analogy then we will soon be in for a pretty wild ride!

Carmichael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carmichael said...

What do you mean "if"?
You just did.

You really think Pierre Eliot is going to come back from the dead do you? Or did you have some other once in a century phenomenon in mind? One that no one knows about now and can't see on any horizon.

Does this once in a century person have to be of one party? Which gender? How tall? How old? From which profession?

Is this the only messiah you're waiting for in your life?



You just did a very nice job of demonstrating my point about many progressives in Canada.

"There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know."

Jerry Prager said...

Canadians are reactionary in their politics, I doubt they've ever been progressive. Here we are 30 years post-Free Trade, the rich have gone richer, the poor have gotten poorer; the middle class are disappearing and Liberal and Conservative Continental Corporatists are celebrating the new border deal: the media are focused on all the good things to come from the consolidation of the free flow of power between the ruling classes of America and Canada. Tipping Point? Water down a drain, sand particles in an hour glass draining hope and opportunity.

Carmichael said...

I think you're right Jerry.

Progressives may never have had power here but they have an opportunity now to let Harper keep it for about another decade.

We'll see.

Marpman said...

I wonder though as I would doubt that the grassroots Tory would vote any other way. Alberta, for years, would vote PC regardless of who was the leader...and more or less they act in the same way.
I doubt that there will be a tipping point for the grassroots movement. Even if regular Canadian's, more educated and progressive in their voting patterns were to vote 'no' it would probably still lead to a minority. At least based on our current vote turnout.
I believe that in order to change this trend we have to engage voters, especially the younger voters. What will be the tipping point for them? What will make them realize that their apathy has led to successive, destructive governments and that they have to vote to change that.
Sometimes unless you are directly affected you don't try and make a difference...and maybe Harper's crafted policies are careful to avoid that...appeal to his grassroots to maintain that status quo.
We are in for a rough ride....for some time yet. It is great to hear Bob Rae as a voice of reason...not some shrill NDP rant..but a reasoned statement hilighting the destruction of our government.