Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Opposition" Needs To Get Its Shit Together

How long will the same depressing theme emerge before somebody advocates FORMAL co-operation, "merger", "non aggression pact" between the opposition?  Another Nanos poll out today reinforces the macro problem, currently manifesting itself in Calgary Center.  Vote splitting is Stephen Harper's best friend, recent polling must make the PMO simply giddy.  Why then would the "opposition" continue on with their narrow tribalism, knowing full well their chief adversary LOVES the status quo?

Joan Crockatt has run a brutal campaign in this by-election.  The only saving grace for the Conservatives in Calgary Center is that opposition remains divided, this reality blunting full impact.  What we are witnessing in this riding is another glaring example of the opposition to Harper voluntarily handicapping itself in the name of tribal pursuit.  Of course there are differences between the various opposition parties, but put side by side with the chasm between themselves and the Conservatives, the inability to find some common understanding is philosophically suspect.

The majority of Canadians don't care about your team, they aren't invested in partisan pissing matches, in fact partisanship is waning within the greater society.   What is true, what we call the "center" in Canadian politics is nothing more than a recognition of where society sits, it shifts, partisans react to it, and truth be told no party can achieve power without mirroring it. 

With full knowledge that moderation is the only path to power, pure ideology is irrelevant, a domain largely reserved to the faithful.  Compromise is a must, and it provides curious bastardizations for partisans, in that they can call still themselves "left wing" and support a center right Gary Doer, just because he carries an orange banner.  You can slag a Dalton McGuinty, yet cheer a Darrell Dexter, even though the policies are largely similar, simply because of the tribal considerations.  You can bash a former NDP Premier, yet support a former Liberal cabinet minister- who places himself inside a boardroom, akin to a CEO, in his first advertisement- just because he's YOUR guy.  You can bash the Liberals on takeovers, yet turn a blind eye to changing opposition to trade deals, because it's your team and that's all that matters.  What is also true, the greater populous could care less about the philosophical pretzels partisans turn ourselves into to, they just want solutions and visions.

The polling is clear, in the absence of a complete Liberal meltdown, the NDP will be hard pressed to defeat the Conservatives.  The polls also show that under optimal conditions the Liberals actually have a chance, but put into the realm of probabilities, you are right back at another probable Harper mandate. 

The Conservatives have a 30-35% base of support that is unwavering, dependable and committed to vote.  Within the current political makeup, this government need not appeal to much beyond this base, secure in the knowledge two thirds of us are relatively irrelevant to their personal fortunes.  This reality creates a narrowly focused government, one that fails to achieve consensus, or even cares for that matter.  A divided opposition not only secures power, it also dictates how that power is yielded and notions of true democracy suffer as a result.

Liberals and the NDP, as well as Greens, can dream about ideal scenarios that bring them to power.  There are real avenues to power, but there are also many more practical outcomes that deliver nothing to either, except another mandate for this government, despite a vast majority wishing their ouster.  There is something fundamentally wrong with the current state of Canadian politics, and once we dispense with ego and sporting interests, understand that the path to power for all opposition parties is staking moderate ground, the notions of co-operation become not just desirable but entirely logical.


Dan F said...

There are unfortunately some partisans amongst both Liberals & NDP who will refuse to vote for the other (and even some Liberals who would sooner vote Conservative than NDP).
Might be the case that with a strong LPC and a strong NDP both using effective GOTV techniques, the overall % of voters who vote Conservative is pushed down below 30%. Turnout matters.
With numbers below 30-35% there is very low likelihood that Conservatives can form a majority government, and in any other case, LPC & NDP can come to some kind of working arrangement *after* the election, which may include electoral reform. Realistically I don't see any other possibility, since the parties are naturally run by partisans.

Steve V said...

If the Cons have a few % clear of any other party, which is quite likely with true vote splitting, then they will form another minority. 35% will probably be enough.

I agree, it is hard for partisans to think beyond partisanship. One thing however, the NDP dreams of governing are evaporating as the Liberals show no signs of dying as required. Vice versa is also true of course.