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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.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Conservative Apocalypse vs A Social Storm

Warren Kinsella, author of Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse, has blogged (sorry, web-paged) about more granular details of how politics works than 99% of us will ever know, much less understand.  He has lived, breathed and fought at the federal, provincial and municipal level for longer than the timespan of most political folks' careers.

He's worth listening to.

Kinsella understands better than most how bitter, brutal and short-sighted politics can be.  Whether left or right, Parties do tend to view the ascendancy of their opponents as some kind of apocalypse to be fended off at all costs.  Policies are designed for wins, rather than sustainability; relationships are used, abused and cast aside as though tomorrow will never come.  

As a result, Canadian politics at all levels has become increasingly tribal, insular and ineffective.  The people don't trust politicians, don't feel like their voice is being heard and sadly, don't believe our democracy is working.

This level of frustration, twinned with fear about loss - of jobs, opportunity, of social standing - is fertile ground for populism.  Populist politicians will push the fear buttons, focus on who's to blame rather than what a solution might look like.  They pour gas on an already blistering public.

But the public isn't interested in a Political Party's electoral fortunes; what they care about is the sustainability of their lives, maybe that of their children and their neighbours.  It's all connected, don't you know.

Let's say, for argument's sake, that the Harper Conservatives win another majority government.  They smile gleefully as Justin Trudeau's reputation as Canada's golden boy takes an irrevocable hit and then start looking across the board for who else deserves payback.  They ignore the lessons to be learned from their countless errors of entitlement because, well, they won right?

Let's say Tim Hudak wins a majority government situation in Ontario.  Finally, vindication!  After all he feels he's been through, after all the victories he feel was snatched from him by interest groups, he'd have his own chance at payback.  We know the sorts of policies he'd pursue; we also know exactly how he'd govern, which would be like an Opposition Leader.

Increasingly hostile policies and communication, a shrinking engagement pool and a growing enemies list would supplement further efforts to jig the system in a way that makes future Conservative wins more the norm.  To the victors go the spoils, after all.

But the people are more than consumers of politics; they aren't limited to the partisan brands on the ballot.  There are always other options.

I maintain that the more partisan all partisans get, the more they begin to look the same; tribal, short-sighted and narrow minded.  They don't nurture development, they run herds.  This is the opposite of progress.

Progress is dynamic and, like all growth, it doesn't flow from the top down, it's nurtured from the bottom up.

Which is exactly what's happening with the Open Government movement.  Which is slowly building bridges with the Occupy and Civic Engagement crowds.

While I don't relish the prospect of multiple levels of governments that view a majority of citizens as the enemy and conduct themselves as such, I understand where that sort of neo-feudal governance can eventually lead us.  

So I don't fear an earth-shattering apocalypse; instead, I anticipate a social storm.  Heavy rains will wash away old detritus, allowing for new growth in its place.  As always, society's true leaders will serve as gardeners, nurturing and supporting this growth.

I hope that, despite his constant exposure to the selfish, tribalized politics of our country, Kinsella never loses his faith in people themselves.  He's proven himself a powerful voice fighting against at the highest levels; just imagine the impact he could have standing for on the front lines of civic engagement.

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