Friday, March 07, 2008

Jennifer has a point. Well, no, she doesn't.

Runesmith's Jennifer Smith valiantly defends the Liberals thusly:

So who are you going to vote for? The Greens? Even if they had a hope in hell of winning more than three seats, there are still some disturbingly social conservative elements in the party. The NDP? Puleese. Their credibility is stuffed down the same toilet as the Liberals'.

You could do as you suggested earlier and write 'Fuck You!' on your next ballot, but that would just give the HarperCons carte blanche for the next decade or two.

Let's dissect this, shall we? In the first place, you can use that "Lesser of two evils" argument for only so many years before people start to get really tired of it. I would be interested in voting for the Liberals if I thought they represented my interests; if I thought they were (and, yes, I'm going to use that word again) "progressive"; if I thought they were genuinely concerned about womens' rights and so on. On the other hand, I am not interested in voting for the Liberals simply because, comparatively speaking, they're not quite as despicably evil as the CPoC. That's just not enough of an argument anymore.

If there's one thing the voting population despises, it's feeling like they've been taken for granted, and that's exactly what's happening here. "Vote for us," sing the Liberals. "After all," they continue, "who else ya gonna vote for? The Conservatives? Yeah, right. Ha ha!" To which we can finally respond with a clear conscience, "Fuck you, kids. We're staying home next time. Deal with it." But is this really that overly dramatic? Are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

No, and here's why.

In case you'd forgotten, we are currently being governed by a minority party, which means -- and I apologize for having to point out the obvious, but some of you seem to need it -- that genuinely atrocious legislation should simply never pass. And that's what the Liberals promised us -- they would be there to protect us against the demented, batshit craziness of Stephen Harper's Bible-thumping illiterates and fuckwits. And it made sense. So we relaxed a little and felt at least a bit more secure, knowing that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition would be looking out for us.

Until now. And let's make sure we understand why some of us are so furious.

Over here, TIBT proposes that:

The Liberals failed to stand up against the Conservative agenda they warned us against. As is the case with many votes, the majority of their caucus were either absent or, worse yet, supported the bill.

But let's make sure we describe this properly, shall we? It's not that the Liberals simply didn't stand up to the Conservatives. No, it's that the Liberals actively aided and abetted the Conservatives. And can you appreciate that difference?

That legislation passed by a vote of 147-133. And, by my count, 27 Liberals voted for it. Do you understand what this means? It means that the Liberals had complete and total control over whether that legislation passed. Stopping that piece of crap bill didn't require the Liberals to go to the mats, or engage in any extraordinary Parliamentary tactics, or even stay up late pondering clever political strategy. Rather, all it required was a simple, "Um ... nay. OK, we're done here? All right, then, who's up for some Swiss Chalet?"

That's it -- the power of numbers, which is why I'm guessing a lot of us progressives secretly were never worried about this. No problem, we thought, it's a piece of shit legislation but the Libs will take care of it and we'll be good. Only when we got up the next morning and looked at the paper did we think, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what the fucking hell!?!?"

And, again, it's not that the Libs simply failed to stand up, or scurried off to cower in a corner, or something like that. No, to our absolute astonishment, C-484 was passed because the Liberals helped. Now do you see why we're pissed?

We've been able to hold our noses all this time and just accept that the LPC consisted of a bunch of spineless cowards, and we continued hoping against hope that, some day, they'd grow a pair and finally start to kick some ass. What we didn't see coming was that they'd simply give up entirely and vote for truly horrible legislation. We didn't see that coming at all. And it's why I'm guessing some of us have simply written off the Liberals as a waste of time and have walked away.

When it comes to Stephane Dion, it's one thing to be a vacuous, ineffectual leader. It's quite another to wake up one morning and suddenly realize he's actively collaborating with the enemy. And that, Jennifer, is what's so unforgivable.


Cherniak_WTF said...

I'm so glad I'll be voting for the Bloc....

Jennifer Smith said...

You conveniently omitted the second half of my comment, so I'll paraphrase:

What the fuck are you going to do about it?

I completely get the overwhelming disgust and outrage over this. I SHARE IT. But bitching endlessly about the Liberals without suggesting an alternative is not a solution; nor is throwing up your hands and swearing to never vote for anybody ever again.

If you think throwing your support behind the NDP or the Greens will succeed in kicking the asses of the Cons and Libs, then by all means do so. I'll tell them to expect you at the next meeting.

If you think we need a new Progressive party in this country then great. Start organizing.

If you believe (as I do) that the Liberals need to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the left side of the centre line and purged of the complacent, centrist assholes who are largely responsible for the party's current cowering paralysis, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

At the very least, tell your readers what you expect them to do about it. I'm all ears.

pretty shaved ape said...

Runesmith, with all due respect (and you are due our respect), the Liberals will not be dragged kicking, screaming or otherwise, to the left of center. I don't recall them ever being particularly left of center in the first place. The fact is that it is a huge and entrenched power structure and it will not be moved by an influx of ticked off voters. I don't know which way to turn at this juncture but holding my nose is no longer an option. They fucking well sold us out and the deserve to be scuttled. Dion is the Liberal party's Mulroney. With the exception that Dion's never had any power to damage the country he just stood by and allowed Harper to do it. Not good enough.

stageleft said...

There are two things that people can do:

(1) Stay home but tell every political party just exactly why you stayed home, they've all got email addresses, use themferchristsakes.

(2) Go to the polls, spoil your ballot, and then tell each of the political parties just exactly why you spoiled your ballot (showing them how you did so with a pic taken on your cell phone is also cool), they've all got email addresses, use themferchristsakes.

Write friggen letters to the editor about why you stayed home or spoiled your ballot, and cc them to each of the parties.

Write friggen blog posts about why you stayed home or spoiled your ballot, and cc them to each of the parties.

People on the east coast need to start releasing election results to people in central and western Canada as soon as they are available.

Voting for any party, new or otherwise, does nothing more than to legitimize the system that keeps feeding us the crap we see today.

It ain't rocket science people, I've been doing this shit for years, but until enough of us work at disrupting the system to the point that they cannot ignore it anymore nothing is going to change.

James Bow said...

There are two things that people can do:

Three things. You can vote for a party or a candidate who will jam parliament. Let's see the Conservatives and the Liberals try to get ANYTHING passed if they have a field of 90 independent MPs to work around.

Jennifer Smith said...

Stageleft - It seems to me that staying home and spoiling your ballot are the two surest ways of guaranteeing that nobody in any position of power will ever give a rat's ass what you want or what you think.

PSA - If you don't remember when the Liberals were left of centre then you're younger than I thought. I remember. I remember when my father used to practically foam at the mouth at the merest mention of Trudeau and his pack of socialist nanny-staters giving civil rights to sexual deviants and wasting his hard earned tax money on welfare bums, French signs and government-owned gas stations.

There were huge entrenched power structures in place back in '68, too, and Trudeau wasn't really much more than the '60s version of a blogger with a law degree.

It can be done.

I've got more to say, but I think I'll stop bothering you guys and just post it on my own damned blog. Stay tuned - this may take a while :)

stageleft said...

Absolutely incorrect Jennifer.... I read that voter turnout in the Alberta provincial election was a shade over 41%. Governments and party dogmatics can (and will) try and write that off in a myriad of different weasel worded ways but the fact remains that well over 50% of the population has lost faith in the system.

You can't imagine how much happiness that sort of turnout gives me. At some point the government is going to have to address the concept that people consider our current system to be fundamentally flawed; hopefully they will do so by doing more than simply making it illegal not to vote and then patting themselves on their partisan backs for a job well done.... but I'm not holding my breath.

Gerald said...

Stageleft, apparently you don't get this whole democracy thing, so let's spell it out...

Low voter turnout doesn't prove that the current system is fundamentally flawed, it just gives more power to those who actually do exercise their rights. Forcing someone to vote under threat of penalty is a point past which not even Hitler, Stalin, Castro or Chavez have gone.

I have to agree with those who say "if you don't like it, get involved." Less than 100 people in 1986 didn't like what Mulroney was doin and started a brand new political party. A party which grew to dwarf the party it eventually merged back with.

I would also point out to everyone reading here, that just because the party YOU didn't want is in power, doesn't mean the system is broken. The system only works as well as each individual part.

stageleft said...

Oh goodie, I'm gonna get a lesson in democracy -- the problem is Gerald that I do get "this whole democracy thing".

Let me define your democracy for you Gerald - each citizen has the right to vote for the person that the party whip will tell how to vote in order to remain in good standing with the party.

It's not even a real representative democracy because those elected represent the wishes of their party, not you.

And when it's all said and done the Canadian people have the honour of being ruled by the party with the greatest minority of actual ballots cast.

That is what Canadian democracy is Gerald.

You're obviously happy with that, good for you, cast your vote, smile and grin, and wait for four years until that next "oh look at me, warm and fuzzy, I'm participating in a democracy" feeling all over again.

The thing is though that you are very fast becoming a national minority Gerald, hell, if you live in Alberta you are already a minority because more and more people are cluing in and choosing not to participate in that fundamentally flawed thing that people like me laughingly refer to as the great Canadian democracy.

-- and that, my democracy challenged friend, is just the way it is.

Don't be too sure about that whole "Forcing someone to vote under threat of penalty is a point past which not even Hitler, Stalin, Castro or Chavez have gone" gig. I've heard more and more talk from the upper-right-quadrant about doing just that, and do remember our equally democracy challenged friends in Australia where it is in fact an offense not to vote.

"just because the party YOU didn't want is in power, doesn't mean the system is broken. The system only works as well as each individual part."

But it is Gerald, it doesn't matter what party is in power the rules are exactly the same. MPs get elected and are told how and when to vote based not on what their constituents may want, or believe, but based how the party whip, as instructed by the party leader, tells them to.

Dig your head out of the sand and quite pretending its' any different Gerald. Join the millions of us who are working towards breaking the current system so that we can get a real democracy going.