There is a party in Canada that has an enormous amount of IQ to spare. The Liberal party of Canada, or at least the members and candidates representing it, has historically been composed of “intelligentsia” representing diverse sectors of society: doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, academics, athletes , and all sorts of other leaders in their respective professions. Granted, such people are drawn to politics in general and can be found among the other parties’ ranks as well, but the Liberal party’s historical success was partly founded on the unique ability to draw high numbers of such respectable, high income types into its partisan ranks.
The key word in that sentence is “historical”.
Because in 2012, six years after Stephen Harper kicked this country in the balls and grabbed it by the throat before it knew what hit it, these same enlightened, prosperous, card-carrying Liberals are perpetually shocked and awed by the Conservative government’s daily recasting of the country in their mold. They are incredulous at the omnibus bill that contains, in addition to a budget, laws permitting resource companies to turn this entire country into a clogged toilet. They see the endless undeserved insults to civil servants and charities, the shameless patronage, the hidden costs of prisons and jets, the outright waste of taxpayer money we see under a conservative majority and ask why?
Why do Canadians stand for this and ignore us?
The Liberals do not see, in their indignation, in their incredulity, in their outrage, that Stephen Harper is in the position he is in for one reason.
The 60% plus of Canadians who are disgusted with our arrogant and incompetent government see one person taking it on. One person in the news every day, on the road, in the house of commons mixing it up, talking trash, taking names, and keeping his elbows and his head up. His name is Thomas Mulcair. He is the leader of the previously fringe New Democratic Party of Canada, a party now regularly commanding 30% plus support nationwide on a regular basis. They’ve come a long way, for sure. Where did all this support come from?
It came from people opposed to the government who saw only one alternative. Sure, the NDP has some questionable chapters in its history, like every political party does (J.S. Woodsworth's Strangers Within our Gates reads like an English Canadian Mein Kampf). But if you don’t fit into the resource-guzzling, don’t-tax-me rural/suburbanite crowd the Conservatives have firmly stood in the corner of, the NDP are the only party currently putting that crowd's vision into question.
The Liberals? Oh, you’ll be happy to know after the raging success of that last arrogant, out of touch, windbag of a pretentious snot who they ordained Prime Minister and who couldn’t even win his own riding, they are holding a leadership vote sometime in 2013. As if anybody cared now. I get these mass emails from the party executive about a thousand people tuning into a conference call or a twitter town hall about "rebuilding a movement" that would be hilarious if they weren’t actually serious. The requirements to enter Liberal leadership contest amount to this: You have to be one person, who thinks they know everything about Canada, and stand for absolutely nothing. And I mean nothing. No ideas. No principles. No vision. Just constant, angry, partisan bitching about the Conservatives and NDP. That is what it means to be Liberal in 2012. That’s what you see on their mass emails.
It’s not that complicated. The Liberals are aghast of the state of the country under the Conservatives. Yet, they see no irony at not having elucidated a single thing they would do differently themselves in…years. These intelligent people keeping the LPC alive, many of them with phds earning multiple six figures, cannot see what the Reformers and PCs saw in 2003 – that there is more that unites them with the NDP than divides them, and staying apart over their own petty close-mindedness and arrogance serves the interests of only one person: Stephen Harper.
Ever assiduous to cast the widest possible net and not alienate middle of the road voters, the Liberals have long regarded the NDP as too extreme and have steered clear of them to avoid alienating this support. Yet this stuck in the past view not only turns voters off with its misguided arrogance, it has absolutely no basis in reality. Why can’t Liberals ditch this hang up? They demonstrate as much flexibility as the Vatican and want to form a national majority government?
Making fun of a party that can’t crack the upper teens in support yet considers itself a relevant institution of national importance has become a national sport. It wasn’t so when the shoe was on the other foot and the NDP was at 17 to the Liberals 30. It was because that party was patient and kept its head down. It didn’t hector people every day about how it was the only credible alternative alongside its endless bromides about “grassroots” and “rebuilding. With the Libs, the delusion just worsens every week. Justin Trudeau? He’d get slapped even harder than Ignatieff, whom he adoringly gazed at in 2009, while Iggy thundered from a podium to a Quebec audience about what a national source of pride the oil sands were. The Liberal Party of Canada needs to be put out of its misery, as the thousands of voters who have fled to the NDP can attest.
But that 17-21%, rock solid core of voters who identify so strongly as Liberals yet, like the party, cannot articulate any actual reasons why anyone should vote for them, are the bottleneck in the Canadian political landscape. They are what is preventing a merger and dividing the progressive side, consequently keeping Harper in power. Whatever they might say about Harper, however eruditely they might express it, their delusion is keeping him in power.
Oh, but I guess there still are some people in power that bleed Liberal red who they could turn to for inspiration. Three out of four of the country’s most populous provinces are governed by Liberals, after all. And these three tired, used-up, out of gas provincial Liberal leaders are more scared of the electorate than anybody. Jean Charest is falling apart, besieged by the student strike, the construction-mafia inquiry, and the population’s negative view of his government’s collusion with big business. For all his tough talk following the recent tense minority budget negotiations with the NDP, Dalton “Pretzel” McGuinty doesn’t want a summer election. Hitting the campaign trail 8 months after the last election to defend more expensive boondoggles like ORNGE and the Mississauga gas plant cancellation, while the OMA and teacher’s unions are at his throat? I think he’ll pass. Then there’s radio host Christy Clark, who was parachuted in to lead the BC Liberals when Gordon Campbell resembled a sickly version of current McGuinty/Charest. With the possible exception of Ontario (because of subpar opposition leaders, not because of the government), all of these premiers look set for a heavy walloping whenever the next elections are called. For good reason. Politicians who listen to nothing but the whispers of pollsters one minute and captains of industry the next, never making any gut, instinctive, or tough decisions, are simply doomed to fail. And that is all Liberal politicians know how to do. It may have worked well for 100 years or whatever, which helps explain Liberals’ collective refusal to remove their heads from their buttholes, but it doesn’t in 2012. People see through this bullshit now.