Stephen Harper doesn’t want to beat the other side; he wants to destroy them. They’re not opponents; they’re the enemy. As for the depth of his ideological feelings, the prime minister’s colleagues use the word “hatred” to describe his antipathy to liberalism.
When politics is everything, when opponents are enemies, when there’s hatred in your belly, certain things follow. Ruthlessness, for one. Personal attacks. A refusal to accept the legitimacy of different views and to work with those who hold them.
I have long argued on this blog that conservatism under Stephen Harper is as much about what they OPPOSE, as much any philosophical vision for Canada. Without a THEM, there is no positive inspiration, there must be an enemy, something to tear down, something to destroy. If you understand this psychological state, then the inability to incorporate new facts or arguments, the narrow zeal that never bends, is more fully in crisp focus.
Gardner focuses on Harper, but really the whole "movement" that emphatically supports him falls into the same category. Look at how the Conservatives choose their fundraising vehicles, almost every single one is predicated on this notion of some big bad force that threatens our sensibilities and needs to be tamed. It's never about traditional conservative principles, it is ALWAYS about some enemy and the faithful open their wallets. The need for a THEM runs through this entire expression, Harper, his minions, right down to his nasty online commentators, a true ruthless sensibility that speaks to the worst in all of us. Why anyone actually expected this majority government to "mellow" escapes me, it simply isn't in their DNA.
If you review Harper's career, how his brand of conservatism rose to power- found grassroots support- you will note it was ALWAYS about what they were against, what needed to be destroyed, what was counter to their sensibilities. Harper spent years attacking Canada, it's institutions, found it necessary to trash us abroad, just an overriding NEGATIVITY that fed all the arguments.
It is this state of mind that provides the never bending commitment, that renders traditional debate meaningless, a pre-determined state of mind that sees questioning as threat, legitimate discourse an irritant. Anyone who dares get in the way of Harper's agenda is subjected to outlandish attacks, their reputations put into question, their non partisan credentials undercut, just a pervasive mood of intimidation and low brow tactics.
Again, if you are left scratching your heads at Harper and company's recent behavior, you simply fail to understand the true makeup of your subject matter. Harper's Conservatives has been nothing if not consistent, there will always be new enemies around the corner, it's what gets them up in the morning....