I can’t figure it out. The NDP just scored a gigantic victory in yesterday’s election. They went from a minor, anti-everything coalition of the disaffected to a bold, new national force in Canadian politics. They gathered votes from just about everybody who wants to change the way we do business in this country. They more than doubled their best election results to date and nearly tripled their parliamentary power. They increased their popularity from a paltry 18.2% to 30.6% — which means nearly one in every three Canadian voters now supports the NDP. And that’s not all. Of overwhelming significance, Jacques, Le Tueur de Geants (Jack, the Giant Killer) did what no politician has been able to do for twenty years. He separated the Sovereignistas in Quebec from the allure of separatism and convinced huge numbers of Quebecois to join in a federalist dream. Not bad for a guy with a bum hip and a failing memory! Yet, in the middle of it all, even before Mansbridge could choke out “C-C-Conservative majority,” the Internet was bulging with I Hate Harper tirades. Did I miss an e-mail or something? Is this the way one is supposed to celebrate the greatest night in the history of “progressive” politics?
In less than twelve hours, the anti-conservative forces in Canada went from bright-eyed political activists, working flat out for change, to a pack of snarling Harper-haters, spitting sour grapes. Of course, hating Harper has been a leisure activity in Canada ever since he kicked Stockwell Day to the curb in 2002, but election night was way over the top. It started with Mansbridge saying something like, Stephen Harper’s most cherished dream was to destroy the Liberals, and it just soared into the stratosphere from there. There were the usual George Bush and Adolf Hitler comparisons, of course, but then it just got bizarre. Harper was going to outlaw abortion, gay marriage and bright colours. Harper was going to change all the hospitals into pay-per-view clinics. He’s going to steal everybody’s Old Age pension cheques and buy fighter jets with the money. He was going to shoot the homeless, abolish daycare and burn the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in front of cowering orphans and weeping widows. As the night went along, Hell itself couldn’t hold half Harper’s nastiness and even Satan was sending the children out of the room. Most of it was unprintable.
The last time anything like this happened was when the Republicans in America finally realized that Palin was an idiot and Obama was actually going to be President. The venom was unbelievable. Did that just happen here? Are the “progressives” in this country taking a page out of the Republican playbook and starting down the yellow brick road to some kind of Canadian Cappuccino version of Tea Party Crazy? Is there a left wing Canadian Glenn Beck waiting to emerge? Do we even know where Harper was born? Hold it! Let’s just stop for a second and take a deep breath.
First of all, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government isn’t worth the name. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what Blogging Tory Adrian MacNair has to say about it — here. Harper and his crew are probably further left politically than “progressive” poster child, Barack Obama. Hyperbole doesn’t work when you don’t know what you’re talking about. Secondly, we didn’t just elect Louis XIV for God’s sake! Despite CBC’s continuous assurance that the people of Canada have handed Stephen Harper “absolute power” he’s only the Prime Minister. Nothing gets done in this country without the bureaucrats and the special interest groups taking their cut, so I wouldn’t worry about anything called rapid change. Thirdly, last time I looked, Jack Layton was the only guy who didn’t campaign with a handful of mud. He kinda wanted to talk about the issues during the election. I would think the party faithful would follow his example and demonstrate that much-vaunted “progressive” tolerance we’ve all been hearing about, ad nauseum.
And finally, you lost. It’s that simple. You can yip all you want about shadowy corporate conspirators subverting the will of the people — or media bias — or abolishing reforming the electoral system. Hell, you can even say Harper is a Manchurian Candidate born in Kenya if you want to, but that doesn’t change the facts. More people wanted a Conservative government than wanted an NDP one. Even though 60% of the voters didn’t vote Conservative, using those numbers, 70% didn’t vote NDP: case closed. If the “progressive” message is so alluring, Jack Layton is now a Prime Minister in waiting, and he’s got four years to prove he can do a better job. Get after it!
The vast majority of people in this country want to change the way we do things politically, and many of them demonstrated that by voting NDP. Let’s leave the venom and the rhetoric alone, calmly sit down, compare blueberries and oranges, and see which Canadians want. Then all we have to do is figure out how to pay the bills and learn to live with the result — without resorting to American-style nutsy.