big ass, big worry

never mind the embarassment of jack's big ass gaff yesterday in the House. it could happen to anyone, and has. and never mind that i sorta agree with what audra says about the strange and ill-conceived ndp e-bulletin that arrived moments after dion's victory was announced. but also, in general, i'm feeling a whole lot of party malaise that can't just be attributed to the malcontentedness of seasonal disorder. i was feeling icky even before hearing my friend pierre go off about the irrelevance of the ndp loss in london in the by-election. he and others seem to think it was damn ok for elizabeth may to have clamored for 15 more minutes of fame on the back of megan walker, who was incidentally endorsed by local environmental leaders. we swatted back and forth about what's strategic. he says it was strategic for may to run in london in order to gain profile and therefore widen the platform from which she can attack harper. bully for her. i suggested that if we're serious about toppling harper, then we best be goddamn serious about being strategic. because as far as i'm concerned, a real strategic approach at this point might just be to do the ultimate consolidation of the left. not a new concept, of course, but perhaps the most important one to examine today. exploring this approach might have meant that elizabeth may put her ego aside for one wee moment to turn her so-called brilliant tactical mind to more important long-term strategic questions than her ability to put her face on the news. that's not to say that jack's face is helping us any better, but could it possibly be the moment when we create a strategy that advances both?

sweet jesus, how could i be losing sleep over the agonizing possibility of an ndp-green merger. better placed people than i who have dared advance a 'unite the left' idea have barely lived to tell the tale. so how could piddly losses like repentigny or london cause me this level of worry?

it's about way more than london, and yet london totally matters, in terms far deeper than the boost a by-election win gives a party, than what it does for momentum, especially this close to another federal election. london matters because our electability should. uh oh, i think to myself, don't you dare wander into that dangerous terrain of doubt - that risky space somewhere between optimism and pragmatism. c'est pas le temps. but here i am, floating uncomfortably amidst those questions every ndp-er tries to dodge: if we can't ever expect to win, then what the hell are we doing? are we only campaigning for a strong 3rd in opposition? how can we sell to the electorate what we fear to believe our own selves? or if we do believe it, then what messages do our continued losses tell us? despite a public that seems to endorse - albeit in soft ways - our general point of view (take afghanistan, environment, gay marriage, equality, etc), we can't seem to make significant electoral gains. this fate, over the long-term, puts hopefulness rather out of reach for me. i'm eager for the party to engage in honest and painful discussions about WHY. yes, there are global forces and market forces and right-wing forces that are constantly tugging the electorate the other way. but we are smart and our ideas are saleable and we should be doing better. i want to talk about why we're not. and despite my obsession with communications, i know the conversation has to go deeper than how we can't find a less ridiculous way to say "ordinary Canadians" in french than "les canadiens et canadiennes ordinaires".

i'm certain i lack the energy to engage in any sort of visceral debate about this. i can only say that my worry for the party's success in the next federal election is real. you take harper's spectacular 2006, dion's election as liberal leader (which i shan't get into now, but holy jesus), you take elizabeth may's stunning finish in london, our inability to turn general public support into concrete electoral support, and some of jack's mistakes, and you get a real sense of doom about the colour of our future. i used to think that what we've really been hungry for on the left is a true leader, and that our biggest problem is a lack real strategic vision. maybe that was the case once, but the time is now, and i'm wondering if it's worse than all of that.

guess i'm all kinds of new political nervousness, which is a pretty tough place from which to conjure up the energy to push forward an election preparedness strategy, especially in quebec.


Blogger FurGaia said...

For what it's worth, here is my take. I think there are two set of forces at play here.

First the polarization of politics. When all the parties adhere to a vision of society that is more or less compatible, then the NDP is strong. Under those conditions, voters can afford purity and the selection of candidates that are a little bit more radical or off-center because in the end there is the sense that society is not in danger. The political landscape has changed with Harper. He did say that we would not recognize Canada once he has finished with it. Boy, he was not kidding! Whereas voters chose to downplay his far-right tendencies at the last election (beginning with Layton himself!), that is not the case today. He is seen now for what he is and that is sending voters scrambling to the Liberals.

The second set of factors affecting the political landscape IMO - and that is only starting but may play an important part as months go by, is the Canadian unity question. On constitutional issues, it would appear that the NDP loses its relevancy. I don't know whether you have had a chance to read this document. It is very interesting. Voters revert to the two main parties (and in Quebec now the Bloc) depending on where they stand on those issues.

3:24 a.m.  
Blogger audra williams said...

I'd be uncomfortable about the NDP working with May, given her recent anti-choice proclamations.

4:39 p.m.  

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