Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wither The Tribes?

Interesting article today, detailing developments in a lone riding which could become a template for greater "co-operation" moving forward.  I contend some measure of co-ordination is largely inevitable, as well as a belief the move will come from a grassroots expression, rather than the rigid party apparatus which is largely incapable of seeing beyond narrow self interest.

I'm not committed to a preferred course, but the spirit here is encouraging:
In February of this year, Green Party supporters in the riding, at their annual general meeting, agreed to have its executive reach out to Liberal and NDP representatives in the riding. “The purpose of the discussions has been to explore areas of agreement on visions for a progressive Canadian future, including electoral reform,” wrote Alec Adams, the Green riding association president. The three parties agreed it might be useful to express joint concern over government policy. “Our goal is to galvanize the progressive vote in 2015, so people will cast their votes in a way that will make a difference,” he wrote. The meetings have been “non-competitive and congenial,” Adams says, but he emphasized things are being done one small step at a time. Just to be safe, they are representing themselves to the public as concerned individuals, leaving their party affiliation at the door. Last Saturday, a protest against the omnibus bill was held in Orillia and it was jointly organized by all three opposition parties in the riding.
Partisans routinely defend the distinctive character of each political brand. In one sense this contention is true, except when taken to the practical world. The NDP are now lead by a man who's first political ads INTRODUCING him to Canadians take place in a corporate boardroom- yes a Bay Street setting- that's the new far left ladies and gentleman. The Liberals are lead by an interim leader who is quite possibly to the LEFT of the NDP leader, no need to rehash his orange past. The Liberals are working with the Greens, the Liberals have worked with the Greens going back to Dion, we have seen many, many committed Greens move into the Liberal tent and vice versa, the synergies are simply irrefutable. Provinces have elected many NDP governments, which dippers routinely cite, without mentioning Doer, Dexter, Calvert bear NO relationship to the "real left", in fact Dalton McGuinty may just be the real "progressive". But I digress...

There is a certain narrow mentality that dominates the tribes, one that I have also fell prey to in the name of "team". Actual political orientation takes a backseat to the flag, Ignatieff, Dion, far apart on the spectrum, but the commonality is the brand and that supersedes. Our NDP friends are doing the same right now, many have admitted a discomfort with Mulcair's orientation to me privately, but that evaporates in the name of path to power and the necessary pragmatism that comes with mainstream politics. If we blindfold ourselves and simply read rhetorical lines, in many respects partisans would be at a loss to ascertain true origin, and that is the bottom line.

 People talk about the Liberals being "squeezed", which to me is a simplistic explanation. In reality, Liberals are being squeezed because the NDP are becoming the Liberals, the very nature of the term implies a move into formerly held terrority. Mulcair is moving the NDP to the center, the party of Broadbent is deader than any column could articulate about the Liberals ultimate fate, don't kid yourself. The Greens scream politically redundant on a host of levels, apart from the party apparatus and internal dynamics that nobody outside of the partisan realm particularly cares about.

The Liberal leadership race is shaping up like a dud already, the names being floated resemble those of job applicants to captain the good ship Titantic. The only intrigue for me as of today, does SOMEONE come out of the hinterland and champion "co-operation", is there a revolutionary amongst us? Should we see that expression, THEN this notion of "supporter" can become a important variable because there is a mechanism to allow for non-partisan types to weigh in on the future of the closed tribe.  In other words, the appetite amongst the general audience sees more value in co-operation than do we committed party members, the lack of mental rigidity that scoffs at the mere mention.  As well, "locals" on the ground-as Simcoe North demonstrates- can unilaterally find common ground and these understandings can manifest.

I'm not sure where we go moving forward, but I remain convinced that should anything of political substance develop it will come from the ground, a practical sensibility that sees a greater interest beyond the tribes.


Jerry Prager said...

The parties are the problem, the voters are the solution. Personally I have lost all hope that liberals will ever be anything but Liberal-Conservatives, kinder gentler corporatists, which is all McGuinty is. It's a deal as old as the Hanseatic League and I for one am done with the entire configuration of rule by the rich. The end game can be seen in Wisconsin. Fiscally conservatism = a thousand years of being ruled by merchants, enough is enough.

Tomm said...


I understand the problem with tribalism (e.g. Lord of the Flies) and think you are both on to something and also really do feel a sense of abandonment."

I think I've read enough of your stuff to get a pretty good impression of where you see us needing to go.

I think all political partisans have a nagging concern that at some point they will either be soldiers in the charge of the light brigade", or be unwitting accomplicies to some real stinky policy.