Don't jump; it's only four years!
I was right about one thing: “the economy” is issue enough to win an election. Harper harped and harped on “the economy” to the exclusion of other issues and it turned out to be the winning formula.
What I was wrong about was pretty much everything else: I thought “contempt of parliament” was basic enough to our democracy to turn the tide. I thought the selective de-funding of agencies as a back-door policy-making strategy would strike more people as fraudulent. It didn’t. I thought the dictatorial management of Harper’s backbenchers would make enough of a difference in local politics to get some voters to say, “Now wait a minute; what about MY issues.” It created a barely-perceptible ripple. I supposed that a substantial block of anti-abortion, pro capital punishment Conservative supporters would revolt at Harper’s ineffectiveness in promoting rightist social issues. They didn’t.
All of which serves to convince me that the 60% majority that lost the election—practically speaking—has its work cut out for it.
A functioning economy is a wonderful apparatus; it distributes needed goods to people, encourages entrepreneurship and innovation, rewards hard work and punishes slothfulness. But this isn’t the economy that Harper was talking about in the campaign; he was talking about “less government, lower taxes, highest possible growth” model, the very model that brought the USA to its knees and is keeping it there. It’s the model the corporate world has convinced a lot of Canadians is somehow a basis for stability and wellbeing, when it is actually its opposite. Boom and bust economies—and I hesitate to even call them ‘economies’—are the mothers of unemployment, disappointment, short-term gain for long-term pain, massive profits for a few, the high-speed rape of natural resources . . . 60% of Canadians know the risks and cast their ballots against it. It wasn’t enough.
Harper won the propaganda battle.
But let’s not worry too much. Four years of Harperism will be plenty to disenchant even their base. Harper is presiding over a caucus divided—some of our Saskatchewan MPs for instance, are expecting this majority to produce socially-conservative reforms, which it won’t. Lower taxes means less revenue for health care, the military, you name it, and cutting will be required. Cuts alienate people, even the Conservative voters who bought into the myth that you can spill half the pail of Kool-Aid at the picnic and still have more for everybody will begin to feel disenchantment. Backbenchers will turn on their leader.
But I was wrong before and I could be wrong again. Maybe less government, more guns, lower taxes do pave the road to happiness. Maybe the corporate world will actually ensure that the benefits of less government do trickle down to the masses. Maybe you actually can put the toothpaste back into the tube.
We have four years to find out. For many people, it feels like the Babylonian exile has just begun, and so I would like to comfort them with the words of the prophet Jeremiah in 29: 4ff: “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce, Marry wives and beget sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters and you may increase there and not dwindle away. Seek the welfare of any city to which I have carried you off, and pray to the Lord for it; on its welfare your welfare will depend.” Putting aside the diversion that women are spoken of as if they were brood mares, there may be good advice embedded here for the disappointed 60%.