It is both to the credit and detriment of the three political parties running in opposition to the current Conservative government that no one has mentioned the Americanization of Harper’s style of governing and campaigning.
That the current government bears no resemblance to former forms of Canadian Conservatism goes without saying. Witness the unceremonious dumping of Joe Clark. Driven as he is by a very narrow ideology, Harper has also left behind the ideals of his Reform roots. Though many of us disagreed with the political philosophy of Preston Manning (who single-handedly made “taxes” a swear word), he was a consistently rational and principled man.
Harper’s governing style is all about strategy; how he can maintain his base of support while sucking in all of the fearful, ignorant, angry and otherwise disaffected voters who want to punish and exclude. In so doing he has studied in depth the tactics of American Republicans who have been very successful promoting a climate of fear and divisiveness while ignoring or denying the very issues such as climate change and social unrest that pose a much greater threat to our well being.
In the lead-up to the Iraq war, its chief architect, Vice President Dick Cheney raised the practise of lying with a sober straight face to the level of high art. One would think that, after the disaster that was the “freeing” of Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed and a whole region destabilized, leading inevitably to the emergence of groups seeking to assuage their extreme anger through brutal retribution, that we would grasp the simple principle that “the best way to get stung is to stir a hornet’s nest”. Harper, who vigorously supported the invasion of Iraq, continues to stir.
It comes down to this: do you want thoughtful, inclusive government offered to a much greater extent by all three of the alternative political parties, or do we want a Dick Chaney clone to remain in charge of our precious country?