Thursday, 26 May 2011

Is liberalism really dead?

I watch and try and keep up with political commentary like sports fans do their favourite sports, and have been hearing a lot of people from Tom Flanagan to Ian Capstick delivering eulogies on the recent "deceased" that is the Liberal Party of Canada, nay, the very death of centrist views and affiliations around the world as Flanagan in a recent Globe and Mail opinion piece would have it.

But that is to say that Harper, all by himself, killed a sleeping giant which is blatantly absurd. The Liberal Party of Canada has had its struggles but to write centrist politics off in one fell swoop as right-wing and left-wing ideologues have is merely wishful thinking, to mistake a fluke for their strategic acumen, serendipity for their own design and making. Remember it was split votes not votes-for that got the conservative government its majority.

Without a ready and visible enemy to bash unashamedly I doubt Harper even has the political skill and imagination necessary to survive a majority government as most of his tenure has relied so heavily on contrast and demonization of an august party like the Liberals.

The moderate, sane, and tolerant segment who make up the majority of liberal membership and sympathy is not dead. This is who Canadians are (of various stripes) and how they like to portray themselves, and one defeat (though, admittedly spectacular) in one election will not kill this cherished identity. The giant yet slumbers far from dying no matter how hard the partisan wishes of Harper would have it.

The wilderness seems boundless just now for individuals like me but the centrist spirit is mature, is about maturity, and will survive set-backs without succumbing to despair. Nor does it see experimentations and flirtations as threats, really. Just as conservative sympathies never died, just hijacked at the moment by impetuous juveniles, liberal sympathies likewise find the prospect of death unpalatable.

Mark Twain said, "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way". One thing about being impetuous is how easily political enemies accumulate even amongst one's own ranks.


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