25 November 2013

The Conservatives and the Republican disease

Being an inveterate reader, I frequently encounter something that is such a nice piece of writing it demands a second or third reading and occasionally even creates a pang of envy that I didn't write it myself— a "wish I'd said that" moment. Such was the case when I read Andrew Coynes' November 15th column in the National Post discussing Rob Ford and the state of the right in Canada today. The pertinent passage runs as follows:
And of all his enablers, the most culpable are the strategists, the ones who fashioned his image as the defender of the little guy, the suburban strivers, against the downtown elites, with their degrees and their symphonies—the ones who turned
a bundle of inchoate resentments into Ford Nation. Sound familiar? It is the same condescending populism, the same aggressively dumb, harshly divisive message that has become the playbook for the right generally in this country, in all its contempt for learning, its disdain for facts, its disrespect of convention and debasing of standards.
The "playbook for the right generally in this country" arrived, I believe, when the Mike Harris Conservatives in Ontario brought up advisers from the Republican ranks in the U.S. and then established its enemies list—welfare recipients, teachers and labour unionists among them.

It has now insinuated itself into the federal Conservatives under Stephen Harper, leader of a government that daily illustrates "its contempt for learning, its disdain for facts." Whether it's the nation's police chiefs on the gun registry, medical professionals on injection clinics, or climate scientists on global warming, their learning and their facts are rejected in favour of dogma.

Enlightened Republicans are beginning to tire of this noxious strain in their party. Will Canada's conservatives follow suit? Or will they allow it to erode the standards of Canadian conservatism as it has eroded the standards of American conservatism?

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in the States and the extreme negativity and divisive style of politics simply seemed to be nature of the process to me. This is not to say that I, in any way, had a positive impression of the political "game." When I came to Canada in the seventies I saw certain advantages to the Westminster system and was relieved by the less extreme nature of the discourse. However, I must say that unless the parties are willing to get together on creating some significant rule changes both to the Parliamentary procedures as well as their advertising process, then I fear that Harris and Harper have poisoned the discourse permanently.