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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Has Stephen Harper Won?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper set out to make Canada a more conservative place, with his definition of conservative being much like how he's treated politics throughout his reign, which is much like the description above.
Don't count on your neighbor.  Be tough, be aggressive, keep the kids in line, do what it takes to get above the heap.
Of course, what Harper meant by this was all economics - he is, after all, an economist.  Don't count on your neighbor means don't count on welfare, not abandoning your neighbours.  Being tough and aggressive is about hunting for jobs and pursuing work opportunities, not about bringing a gun to a knife fight.  Doing what it takes to get above the heap, in his mind, means excelling on a personal level, not working to keep your competitors down.
But again, look at what Harper has done with his term in office - his politics are defined by mean-spirited, aggressive attacks on not just the positions, but the person that is his opponent.  He holds a tough line on accountability but refuses to accept it himself.  He breaks his promise, his ignores misdeeds that get him ahead and he absolutely refuses to lead, as in bring people together.  Every action, every opportunity is turned into a money-maker. 
He's the king of divide-and-conquer, after all.  But he's hardly the first, nor is he the only. 
Well, the polls are telling us that Harper has gotten his wish, in genie style - though of course, who really trust the polls these days?
Trust is not a common currency these days, yet the political warriors of yore keep pulling out their who-do-you-trust messaging, telling the public that everything they see as wrong with our institutions and the whole political class is really their fault; we're the solutions to that.  Us and our one, infallible or incredibly human leader.
Lord knows why they'd think anyone's buying that crap.  Maybe it's their polls at fault.
Right now, the only thing people trust Strong Leaders to do is to kick the legs out from under opposing groups, whether it's the elite or the welfare bums, the corrupt corporate kings or the liberal latte sippers.  Nowhere in this is an expectation that leaders will solve our problems.  In fact, it's almost like we want them to give us an excuse to burn the House down.
The people don't want to be consulted, or pandered to, or messaged at; they want to participate.  They want to be valued, to have agency, to make wages and create solutions, gaining brand from the process. 
The Political Right can tell these folk they're weak, soft, fundamentally "don't get" what the world's really about.  Or they can choose to tune them out entirely, and rant bitterly to each other across their coffees.
Don't worry, Sun News Network people - the message's gotten out.  The lesson's been learned - youth are hardening their hearts and sharpening their knives. 
Disconcerting?  It should be disconcerting - out of such disaffection, despair and bitterness are revolutions kindled.  See, there's value in occasionally committing sociology.
But it isn't all bad.
Among the gathering clouds of disaffection are bright lights of rational optimism, looking past winter towards the spring, looking inwards not to shut out the world, but to ground oneself in responsibility.
These emerging leaders are largely young; they have heart, fortitude, ideas and discipline - but what they often lack is money and clout.  They don't need these things near as much as the moneyed people need those voices on their side.
We know the lay of the land; we know how this can turn out.  We can stay the course and repeat the cycle, or we can evolve.
Either way, the end-game remains the same. 

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