Uniting the Progressive Vote in Canada
Reposted on request
Ron Love, organizer of the ‘United Alternative’, explained in this article how his efforts to unite the right paid off in 2000 and how they continue to pay off as Stephen Harper comes closer and closer to a majority government. He shares his wisdom for the ‘left’ and demonstrates what ‘we’ need to do in order to mount a force that could oppose the ‘right’.
Read it. Digest it. Critique it.
And then you’ll realize that his basic premise couldn’t be more wrong .
I don’t think the ‘left’ should subject itself to the same kind of ham-fisted tyrannical forces that the right did. What allowed the right to unite is that they had common ground that could arguably be found outside the political spectrum, such as religious dogma. As a result, their basic political program (that which they revealed to Canadians in their public platform) was easily agreed upon by all of the founding members. Examples: neo-con economic policies (including disclosure of what they would do if they had a majority, like sell off public assets and allow banks to merge), tough on crime policies and money for defense. The ‘Progressive’ part of the Conservatives disappeared. Even Mulroney looks like a socialist compared to some of the ex-Harris brown shirts.
However, in this process of consolidating the voters of the ‘right’, the right did something that only the right seems capable of doing: they put a lid on democratic process. Yes, the process of choosing their leader was ‘democratic’, but it was also negotiated through a number of concessions, many of which I’m sure Peter Mackay is still stinging from.
You see, too much has to be surrendered in order to ‘unite’. At least if you’re with the ‘right’.
On the ‘left’ – or what I prefer to call ‘progressive’ – side of the country, we have become the ‘bucket’ for everything that the Conservatives are not. Green. Socialist. Marijuana Party. Liberals. Without speaking for anyone else, I feel that putting such a divergent range of political viewpoints into a single ‘bucket’ would destroy my sense of democracy.
Someone like Ron Love might argue that the ‘left’ would need to find a steady middle ground as we face media pressure and scrutiny, but I think that can only lead to failure because so many opinions and views would be left scattered at the perimeter.
More importantly, this viewpoint doesn’t reflect the Long Tail of politics, where everybody should be able to have an opinion and these opinions are negotiated (however long it takes) rationally in a legal setting, such as the House of Commons.
It fails to reflect the ‘socialization’ of politics, where everyone should be entitled to an opinion and a voice at the table.
At the core of my opposition to this kind of ‘ramming of the right’ comes the notion that people need to be able to express their point of view and they need to do it within a democratic framework. The Harper campaign has and continues to focus on leadership. A single person. Anything else would be tantamount to anarchy.
So, Mr. Love, you’re wrong to assume that progressive voices in Canada want to be silenced or marginalized into a single voice. We represent an orchestra. A choir. All singing different parts, hopefully in great harmony.
In the short-run, this would take shape as a coalition that represented a balance of progressive opinions. It would take the form of many people making many educated and informed decisions, with a lot of discussion taking place. In public and not behind closed doors.
The long-run it’s Proportional Representation where the single angry voice of the right is muted by the rising swell of an entire chorus.