Thursday, November 12, 2009

Liberalism Is Dead

Small l liberalism in Canada is all but dead. The Chrétien and Martin fatally wounded it. Under Martin and Chrétien the Liberals abandoned universality, the heart of the Liberal brand, and favored instead means tested programs. Means tested social programs do not win elections; the populace is not going to get excited about paying for a service that only a small percentage of the public can use. By turning every social program on offer into a form of welfare, the ability of the Liberals to offer anything other than tax cuts is very limited. Sure enough the Liberals, despite their vacuous rhetoric to contrary, have become virtually indistinguishable from the Conservatives on most issues. Indeed, so in lock step are the Liberal and Conservative parties that a tax shift is considered a bold departure.

Having already insured that Conservatives and Liberals are of a piece when it comes to foreign policy, and pandering to Quebec nationalists, Ignatieff is poised to delivery the coup de grace. Under the guise of making the Liberals competitive again in rural Canada, the Ignatieff Liberals have made it clear that the Liberal party will never again to say or doing anything that might anger social conservatives. Small l liberalism is dead and with it the Liberal brand. It should also be said that this bolds ill for the Liberals electoral fortunes. If conservatism is what the public wants, they are going to prefer the real thing to some ill named Johnny come lately.


Volkov said...

That... what?

Small-l liberalism is far from dead in Canada. Classical liberalism, yes, but social liberalism is alive and well in the country. It was furthered by the Chretien and Martin governments, and from what I've personally seen in Ignatieff's writings, he will continue on the proud mantle of social liberalism that the party is known for. The only issue is that so far, Iggy and his team won't release any of their platform yet.

And before you go around claiming that liberalism is dead in Canada, you best take a look at the government in power and consider how far they've had to position themselves towards socially liberal ideology in order to continue to govern.


Koby said...

Yes lets continue to wait for Godot.

I will admit that Canada was once "cool", but that turned out to be more of Prague Spring than anything lasting.

Moreover, since Ignatieff became leader the Liberals have tacked right on guns and drugs and remained silent on prostitution and euthanasia. The Liberals like to pat themselves on the back for being progressive, but anyone looks progressive when juxtaposed against the Republicans. A better measure is Europe and when matched up against the Europeans we are decades behind.

Volkov said...

The difference is that the Europeans are not liberals - they're mostly social democrats. Among most political parties in Europe, excluding the UK, liberalism, either classical or social, really is quite dead.

And I, for certain, am not a social democrat, and neither are most of my fellow liberals. Leave that to the NDP, the go-nowhere party of past, present, and future.

Being "progressive" isn't much unless you're also sensible and realistic. Liberalism is about the creation of equality through compromise and the assertion of rights, and those things take time and planning. You need to know when the right moment is to bring forward these ideas. You need to consider your options, and look in to the incremental steps that bring those ideas closer to reality, but not enough to distort the possibility of a smooth transition.

Look at the evolution of LGBT rights. It would have been swell if Liberal governments in the 1960's had allowed same-sex marriage, but that is unreasonable, because it is just too much too fast. Which is why you keep up a sustained progression of rights, starting with decriminalization, then benefits, then civil unions, etc etc. You don't rush headlong into the fray unless you just want to damage your own cause.

So maybe the issues aren't being addressed as you wish right now. But to say that is the death knell of liberalism in Canada.. Jesus, what are you smoking bud?

Koby said...

In other words you agree. On all major fronts the Liberals are not doing a damn thing. Where you and differ is that you want us all to shut up and wait.

The thing is there is no reason to have faith. Trudeau's Omibus bill looks bold by todays standards and that is saying something.

Outside of SSM there is not much to recommend the Liberals as being much better the Conservatives. Even then one has to wonder if anything would have come to pass if the courts had not pushed things. Indeed, just look at the way in which the Liberals framed the issue. As Martin put it, you can not cherry pick charter rights; you take the good with bad. In other words, SSM was the just the price for having other rights guaranteed. SSM was the straight man's burden to bear.

As for some of those issues not being right for the picking, the last 4 polls looking at legalization of pot put support at 50% and the spread at between 14 to 7 points. The last poll I saw put support looking at euthanasia put support at over 70% and well over that in Quebec. Indeed, despite it being obvious to one and all that the Conservative's Achilles heel in Quebec is there social conservatism, the Liberals have not done anything to exploit the situation.

It is time to face facts, the Liberals are hopelessly temperamentally conservative and wedded to the status quo. Moreover when it comes to policy, they hardly different the Conservatives.

Jean_Chretien fan said...

Chretein = Chrétien

St. Catharines said...

Suppressed Medical Records (File 5100-13465/001)

St. Catharines, Ontario (Pearson Park)

- Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Sect. 25,26,28)

- C.M.H.A/C.A.M.H. - Brock University

Further details:

Koby said...

Chretein = Chrétien

Thanks fixed

Anonymous said...

What a pile of pooh.......good grief.