Harper came to power promising to do things differently than the Liberals of the Ad Sponsorship era. The base expected a new integrity reflecting the best conservative values — integrity, frugality and respect for Canadians. Instead, Canadians have been fed a steady dose of behaviour out of the prime minister’s own office that redefines unethical — and, in some cases, verges on the criminal.
The Harper machine has been hell-bent on two interconnected things:
1) Stay in power
2) Destroy the Liberals
Destroying the Liberals was as much about near-autocratic control as anything else. When you're only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail; when you're only objective is wins, everything starts to look like a race.
Governance isn't a race. It's not about last man standing, the victor getting the spoils and the ends justifying the means. It's about leadership, organization, sustainability.
Harper will have his place in history as lasting long, but leaving very little in his wake. It'll be up to others to rebuild the brand he has painted into a corner through his reliance on black-and-white imagery.
When it becomes about winning, not achieving, you've lost.
It's not just Harper. We're seeing a slow movement away from organizations that have put individual or organizational gain before commitment to community - it's as true of voters as it is of new Ello users. Such is the nature of the market that where there's demand, supply emerges.
There is much still in flux and those used to the economic model of the last century rest confident that all this "put the people and planet before profit and power" stuff is a passing fad that can't gain traction, because you need profit and power for that.
Do you need integrity if you've got money and power? Can't you just fake it if that's the fluff the market thinks they want?
Maybe a subsequent leader can reset his party; maybe Harper himself will land a cushy job on some boards and live prosperously to the end of his days. Possible, it'll never occur to him that he let slip each and every value he once convinced himself mattered in his question for position and longevity.
But maybe not. Regardless, what Harper leaves behind - his legacy - his written not by his intent, but by his actions.
Integrity matters. Ultimately, it's all that gets left behind.