Sunday, February 24, 2008

Whither Liberalism; the Dion Disaster

Dion has been an unmediated disaster. The party has not moved in the polls since he began as leader and the fundraising numbers are dire. Worse, there is no reason to believe that things will get any better. His English still causes him trouble, he is not getting any more charismatic and the only issue he had a chance to fight the next election on and win, viz., Afghanistan, he chose to punt on. He leads a party that is scared of its own shadow and which had long ago “triangulated” its way in ideological no man’s land. Just what does the Liberal party stand for? The Liberals do not even talk a good game anymore.

What little direction Dion has given the party has not been good. There are plenty of remnants of the Martin era. However, nothing remains of Trudeau’s commitment to universality and federalism and Dion seems more willing to embrace “social taboos” than to challenge them. In its place Dion has decided to pursue ill advised alliances with the Green Party and aboriginal nationalists, and has given plenty of lip service to Martin’s hair brained Atlantic Accord. Once a party that championed a united pluralistic Canada, the Liberal party has become the dupe of provincial and special interest groups who have no regard whatsoever with the national interest. Dion does have his principles though. He may not have any qualms about ruining forever what is left of the Liberal brand, but he is willing to implement one of the most loathed tools in the traditional liberal arsenal, viz. affirmative action, to achieve a higher number of female candidates at the expense the party’s already fractured unity.

Only a miracle and a renewed commitment to social democracy, universality and full blooded social liberalism can save the Liberals now.

9 comments:

Scott Tribe said...

The Nanos poll with its dead heat today doesn't exactly foreshadow instant doom here as you're portraying here. Areas of concern to be sure, but neither is it the doomsday scenario you put forth.

Harper's inability to get majority votes is probably just as disconcerting to him and his party -- perhaps the Canadian public doesn't want anyone to get a majority.

knb said...

Agreed Scott. Lib's tend to navel gaze. If we break out from that and actually see what is going on with the Con's, Lib's like Maple Three might find merit in being more nuanced.

I hate the fact that Lib's speak in a broken voice to the press, but I also see how the press twists it. It would seem that you are buying it Maple Three. Why? Their position is aimed at soft voters. Are you are telling us that is what you are?

Liberals who do not see the big picture and are more concerned with politics within the party need keep their council amongst themselves.

Most of us want to get on with it and not allow the media to lead us by the nose.

Jeff Davidson said...

Only a miracle and a renewed commitment to social democracy, universality and full blooded social liberalism can save the Liberals now.

what utter nonsense. clearly the reality of coping with real voters flies well above your head.

it's near to impossible to manage the unique political sensibilities of a country as vast as ours. dion is leader. he is more than capable. if you're looking to be inspired in the rock star sense of the term, buy some old dylan. leave sage governance to level-headed individuals with not just a little experience federally.

the trudeau is dead. long live the king.

Anonymous said...

"There are plenty of remnants of the Martin era."


Like what??? Who??? Dion ran every Martin hack out of town and brought back the entitlement legacy brigade. Cripes, someone has to tell the campaign team that the Tory parties united while they were off twiddling their thumbs.

Tomm said...

Koby,

Don't listen to the koolaid drinkers. You are absolutely correct, Dion is damaging the essence of what it means to be a Liberal.

It apparently does not mean having a backbone, or being able to create consensus within a big tent, or having policies that are rational, and you don't care who steals them.

Just the simple fact that Layton is beating the Liberal's senseless rhetorically is proof they have no ground they can firmly plant themselves on and defend.

Scott Tribe is also right that the polls aren't that bad. That means that if they actually TRIED to renew their brand with policy conventions and some sense of public humility, they would be building solid foundations for the future instead of playing to the next poll and the next fund raising quarter.

Tomm

MississaugaJoan said...

If Dion continues to keep troops in Kandahar and the NDP/Greens succeed in making Afghanistan "the issue" during the next election, yesterday's feel-good poll will be completely worthless.

Dion and us Liberals should be happy that our support for the Conservatives (via abstentions) and wavering of Liberal values has occurred at the same moment in time that most Canadians still have not cozied up to the Conservatives.

On the environment... Kyoto and the Conservative crime bills were passed last year. The Conservatives reintroduced their crime bill this session. Why has Kyoto not been reintroduced?

Koby said...

Scott:

“Areas of concerns”! That is putting it nicely. Did you ever stop to consider just why it is the Liberal caucus keeps putting a stop to election talk? The Federal party might have enough to run a bare bones campaign but at the riding level the party is broke. Many candidates are going to have to take out personal loans just to compete with the Conservatives.
As for the polls, sure they are mixed bag for the Conservatives, but the Liberals they clear across the board. The party has not moved beyond the level of support it got in the last election. Moreover on a regional picture has gotten worse. The Conservatives are stronger in Quebec, and outside of NFLD the Maritimes. Meanwhile the Liberals look like they will loose seats in BC, NB, and Quebec.

”dion is leader. he is more than capable.”

“Like what??? Who??? Dion ran every Martin hack out of town and brought back the entitlement legacy brigade.”

First of all, let me say that Martin was perhaps the worst politician in Canadian history. This is man that thought he could burry the Chrétien gang once and for all by calling the Gomery inquiry and still win a majority government. He might as well have tired to rebuild the hall of ship while out at sea.

Anyway, Lapierre, and popcorn boy Scott Reid are gone and good riddance to that. However, The Atlantic Accord, the Kelowna Accord and asymmetrical federalism is still very much with us.

General remarks: Somehow the party has deluded itself in believing that if the can simply stay the course, keep quiet, avoid controversy they will be the de facto party of choice of majority of Canadians if only the economy will cooperate and tank. Hoping for an economic downturn, though, is not a political strategy; it is down right perverse and goes to show the depths to which the Liberal party has sunk. With Dion as a leader the Liberals and little to nothing in the way of fundraising the Liberals are not going to win an election based on competing personalities. Their only hope is to run on a bold platform; imagine that an election fought over substantive issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree and have said it for a long time, dion is the problem and even if the polls are even, in an election, they would go down more for the liberals...as for the coments, we can see dion people trying to demeane ur post...simple, liberals made a booboo, in putting dion at the elm and before catastrophy occur, they should get rid of him fast

Abdul-Rahim said...

The Liberal's have advanced greatly in Québec, to the point that in polls they are equals, that is a huge and impressive change and if the Leader should be lauded for failures, then he should be applauded for this victory, which may well be the beginning of a real Liberal comeback in the bell province