The People, Divided, Will Always Be Defeated

All elements within the progressive movement, whether Liberals, New Democrats or Greens, are unified in opposition to the policies of the Conservative Party, yet they spend much of their time attempting to defeat the other two.

It is very common when one speaks of co-operation, coalitions or unification to hear, “But they–” followed by an attack on a policy or past action of that party. As long as the left defines itself by what it stands against, it will continue to divide into smaller and smaller groups, each more bitter and disorganized than the last.

Liberals, New Democrats and Greens are members of these unique parties because we do have differences in policy and leadership, though we nearly all agree that our environment is in trouble and major changes are needed immediately, tax cuts for the rich should be ended, corporations have far too much power, and that the government should act in the interests of all Canadians–not just those that voted for it. We also know that we will never get a fair, honest and accountable government if we continue to fight amongst ourselves.

Competition between three center/left parties is what empowers the Conservative government, when we are the majority. Any agreement to not run candidates in particular ridings creates resentment among voters and party members. No arbitrary system of cooperation seams fair to all.

How can we retain or unique platforms and values, and still cooperate–and compete–in a way that is fair to all Canadians?

The solution is to hold a combined nomination meeting (or virtual meeting) in each riding where the winning candidates from two political parties that receive the most votes stand in the general election, while the party in last place sits out that election. This can be accomplished by EDAs in cooperation, or by the party Leaders agreeing not to sign the nomination papers of any candidate that received the least number of votes at their nomination meeting when compared to the other party or parties in agreement. This would allow the best candidates and organizations to run, and only eliminate candidates that have no chance to win. All parties would be fairly represented with even the Greens winning some of these nominations.

If federal funding is maintained, while there would be less candidates running for each party, each candidate running would get more votes. The reduction of “strategic voting” would encourage more progressive voters to join, donate and volunteer for each party. The result would be even more votes, and therefor funding, for each party.

Liberals, the NDP and The Green Party would be guaranteed more seats, and voters would be guaranteed a better, more representative government.

Consider this and the alternative–a possible majority Conservative government. Those that still disagree with all forms of co-operation, coalition or unification, owe every Canadian, including those yet to be born, an explanation as to why they believe a neo-conservative government is preferable

Copyright 2008 Daniel Mick

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6 responses to “The People, Divided, Will Always Be Defeated

  1. Let me be the first to say this is a great blog! Cheers.

  2. Just time for a quick read, but this sounds very much like the “unite the right” language that brought an end to the the Progressive Conservative party, allowing the Reform/CA party to absorb the PC’s organization and secure the true Tory branding for their own neocon purposes. The neocons would like nothing better than a movement vs movement division of the House. Preston Manning was a pains to deny that the Reform Party was a “right-wing NDP” while the Reform and later CA parties were without hope of securing power, but once they had secured for themselves Conservative branding (pointedly dropping the word Progressive and insisting on its previous origin as a noun while denying the validity of the “Red Tory” progressive-conservative legacy that runs back to Sir John A.), they have very quickly adopted the polarized politics we know so well in BC (Lib/SC vs NDP, or as they would put it right vs the loonie left) and neocon red vs progressive blue state. Progressives come in many forms. Respecting differences is part of what makes us progressive. Seeking a unitified progressive front to oppose what the CPC and its supporters see as a “united right” is simply to play their game. Or so it seems to me.

  3. Your fourth and fifth paragraphs are the key. Four is the same rationale, I think, as the “Forward-thinking Group” offered to encourage a “united right” (since when where conservatives “the right”, one might have asked: now the neocons insist all conservatives are “the right”…Burke must be turning in his grave – that whirring sound we hear in Canada is Robert Stanfield spinning in his). The fifth paragraph is one of the many arguments offered by those who would have it that defeating the Liberals and forming government was all that mattered. This is not to say that what you are arguing is strategically wrong, it just seems to be too much about the practice of politics rather than good public policy, and as you know I am mainly a policy wonk even though I’ve been asked to run as a candidate in three elections and one by-election, by at least three parties, and run twice as a Progressive Canadian. But you have a point. I received only a handfull of votes in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections, and both times received emails or was told in person that they would have voted for me, based on what I had to say, but didn’t do so because they knew the only candidate who could defeat the Con was the Liberal. Does that mean we should simply forget Greens, PCs, NDP or other possibilities. It may come down to principle.

    I have no quick answers, but I admire anyone who is making the effort. Good Egg!

  4. Your fourth and fifth paragraphs are the key. Four is the same rationale, I think, as the “Forward-thinking Group” offered to encourage a “united right” (since when where conservatives “the right”, one might have asked: now the neocons insist all conservatives are “the right”…Burke must be turning in his grave – that whirring sound we hear in Canada is Robert Stanfield spinning in his). The fifth paragraph is one of the many arguments offered by those who would have it that defeating the Liberals and forming government was all that mattered. This is not to say that what you are arguing is strategically wrong, it just seems to be too much about the practice of politics rather than good public policy, and as you know I am mainly a policy wonk even though I’ve been asked to run as a candidate in three elections and one by-election, by at least three parties, and run twice as a Progressive Canadian. But you have a point. I received only a handfull of votes in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections, and both times received emails or was told in person that they would have voted for me, based on what I had to say, but didn’t do so because they knew the only candidate who could defeat the Con was the Liberal. Does that mean we should simply forget Greens, PCs, NDP or other possibilities. It may come down to principle.

    I have no quick answers, but I admire anyone who is making the effort. Good Egg!

    Having a starting point is preferable to working to develop something ex nihilo. Is there anything “to sell worth noting.” below?

    ________________________________
    Conservative Principles and Philosophy
    Robert. L Stanfield

    PARTIES ARE CONCILIATORS

    …..First I would like to make a few comments on the role of political parties such as ours in Canada. Not only is it unnecessary for political parties to disagree about everything but some acceptance of common ground among the major parties is essential to an effective and stable democracy. For example, it is important to stability that all major parties agree on such matters as parliamentary responsible government and major aspects of our constitution.

    I would like to emphasize too that in the British tradition political parties are not doctrinaire….. In our parliamentary tradition, which is substantially the British tradition, parties have a unifying role to play…..A truly national political party has a continuing role to try to pull things together: achieve a consensus, resolve conflicts, strengthen the fabric of society and work towards a feeling of harmony in the country. Success in this role is, I suggest, essential if a party is to maintain a strong position in this country. This role of a national political party, and success in this role, are particularly important in countries as vast and diverse as Canada and the United States.

    It is partly because of this that I do not favour the [Senator Ernest] Manning thesis which urges polarization of political viewpoints in this country. In Canada, a party such as ours has a harmonizing role to play, both horizontally in terms of resolving conflicts between regions, and vertically in terms of resolving conflicts between Canadians in different walks of life. It is not a matter of a national party being all things to all people – this would never work. But a national party should appeal to all parts of the country and to Canadians in all walks of life, if it is to serve this essential role, and if it is to remain strong.

    CONSERVATIVES STRESS ORDER

    Turning now to the consideration of the (Progressive) Conservative Party as such, I would not wish to exaggerate the concern of British Conservatives through the years with principles or theory. After all, they were practicing politicians for the most part, pragmatists dealing with problems, and of course, politicians seeking success. There are, however, some threads we can follow through the years. I am, of course, not suggesting that we in Canada should follow British principles or practices slavishly. Nor would I argue that our party in Canada has followed a consistent pattern. I believe that it has frequently wandered far from the conservative tradition that I believe to be valuable, and conservative principles I accept.

    British Conservative thinkers traditionally stressed the importance of order, not merely “law and order”, but social order. This does not mean they were opposed to freedom for the individual; far from it. They believe that a decent civilized life requires a framework of order.

    Conservatives did not take that kind of order for granted. It seemed to them quite rare in the world and therefore quite precious. This is still the case. Conservatives attach importance to the economy and to enterprise and to property, but private enterprise was not the central principle of traditional British conservatism. Indeed the supreme importance of private enterprise and the undesirability of government initiative and interference was Liberal 19th Century doctrine. It was inherited from Adam Smith and was given it’s boldest political statement by such Liberals as Cobden and Bright. It was also they who preached the doctrine of the unseen hand with practically no reservation.

    RESTRICTIONS ON PRIVATE ENTERPRISE AND GOVERNMENT

    The Conservative concept of order encouraged Conservative governments to impose restrictions on private enterprise where this was considered desirable. We all studied William Wilberforce and his factory legislation when we were in school. These were logical measures for Conservatives to adopt; to protect the weak against the excesses of private enterprise and greed. This is good traditional conservatism, fully consistent with traditional conservative principles. It is also good conservatism not to push regulation too far — to undermine self-reliance.

    Because of the central importance (Progressive) Conservatives attach to the concept of order they naturally favoured strong and effective government, but on the other hand they saw a limited or restricted role for government for several reasons. Because a highly centralized government is quite susceptible to arbitrary exercise of power and also to attack and revolution, Conservatives instinctively favoured a decentralization of power. National government always had to be able to act in the national interest, but there had to be countervailing centres of power and influence. In the past, these might consist of church or the landed gentry or some other institution. Today in Canada, the provinces, trade unions, farm organizations, trade associations and the press serve as examples ……

    MAN AND THE WORLD IMPERFECT

    Another reason why Conservatives traditionally saw a limited role for government was because Conservatives were far from being Utopians. They adopted basically a Judeo-Christian view of the world….. They certainly saw the world as a very imperfect place, capable only of limited improvement; and man as an imperfect being. They saw evil as an ongoing force that would always be present in changing form. It would therefore not have surprised Edmund Burke that economic growth, and government policies associated with it, have created problems almost as severe as those that economic growth and government policies were supposed to overcome.

    A third reason for Conservatives taking a limited view of the role of government was that such men as Edmund Burke regarded man’s intelligence as quite limited. Burke was very much impressed by how little man understood what was going on around him……..

    Burke questioned whether any one generation really had the intelligence to understand fully the reasons for existing institutions which were the product of the ages. Burke pushed this idea much too far, but Conservatives have traditionally recognized how limited human intelligence really is, and consequently have recognized that success in planning the lives of other people or the life of the nation is likely to be limited. Neither government nor its bureaucracy is as wise as it is apt to be believed. Humility is a valuable strain in Conservatism, provided it does not become an excuse for resisting change, accepting injustice or supporting vested interests ……

    THE NATIONAL VIEW

    There is another important strain to traditional Conservatism. Conservatism is national in scope and purpose. This implies a strong feeling for the country, its institutions and symbols; but also a feeling for all the country and for all the people in the country. The Conservative Party serves the whole country and all the people, not simply part of the country and certain categories of people …..

    I suggest that it is in the Conservative tradition to expand the concept of order and give it a fully contemporary meaning. The concept of order always included some concept of security for the unfortunate, although the actual program may have been quite inadequate by our present-day standards.

    The concept of order certainly includes the preservation of our environment. And the concept of order, linked to the Conservative concern for the country as a whole, certainly includes concern about poverty.

    SOCIAL GOALS

    For a Conservative in the Conservative tradition which I have described, there is much more to national life than simply increasing the size of the gross national product. A Conservative naturally regards a healthy economy as of great importance, but increasing the size of the gross national product is not in itself a sufficient goal for a civilized nation, according to a Conservative. A healthy economy is obviously important, but a Conservative will be concerned about the effects of economic growth – what this does to our environment, what kind of living conditions it creates, what is its effect on the countryside, what is its effect on our cities; whether all parts of the nation benefit or only some part of the nation, and whether a greater feeling of justice and fairness and self-fulfilment result from this growth, thereby strengthening the social order and improving the quality of national life.

    ….Any particular economic dogma is not a principle of our party, fond as most Conservatives may be of that particular dogma at any particular time.

    At any given time our party is likely to contain those whose natural bent is to reform and those whose natural bent is to stand pat or even try to turn the clock back a bit. I think it is fair to say that the Conservative statesmen we respect most were innovators. They did not change Conservative principles, but within those principles they faced and met the challenges of their time.

    Traditional Liberalism started with the individual, emphasizing liberty of the individual and calling for a minimum of government interference with the individual. Conservatives on the other hand emphasized the nation, society, stability and order.

    In this century, Liberals have resorted to the use of government more and more. Today big government and Liberalism are synonymous in Canada …..

    Some (Progressive) Conservatives want to move to the old individualistic position of nineteenth century Liberalism — enshrining private enterprise as the most fundamental principle of our party, and condemning all government interference. The Conservative tradition has been to interfere only where necessary, but to interfere where necessary to achieve social and national objectives. Conservative favour incentives, where appropriate, rather than the big stick.

    Of course, it has always been and remains important to (Progressive) Conservatives to encourage individual self-reliance; and certainly red tape and regulation have today gone too far, especially in the case of small business. Self-reliance and enterprise should be encouraged, but Conservatism does not place private enterprise in a central position around which everything else revolves.

    Conservatism recognized the responsibility of government to restrain or influence individual action where this was in the interests of society. Whether a government should or should not intervene was always a question of judgement, of course, but the Conservative tradition recognized the role of government as the regulator of individual conduct in the interests of society…..

    REFORM AND JUSTICE

    …. I would not suggest that Conservatives have tried or would try to build a radically different society from that which they have known. But to reform and adapt existing institutions to meet changing conditions, and to work towards a more just and therefore a truly more stable society – this I suggest is in the best of the Conservative tradition…..

    This is a period when true Conservative principles of order and stability should be most appealing. Principles of conservation and preservation are also high in the minds of many Canadians today, and the Conservative can very legitimately – and on sound historical ground – associate with these. Again I emphasize that these kinds of bedrock principles are national in scope and reflect an overriding concern for society at large ….

    Enterprise and initiative are obviously important; but will emphasis upon individual rights solve the great problems of the day: I mean the maintenance of acceptable stability – which includes price stability, acceptable employment, and an acceptable distribution of income? Would we achieve these goals today by a simple reliance on the free market, if we could achieve a free market?

    It would certainly be appropriate for a Conservative to suggest that we must achieve some kind of order if we are to avoid chaos; an order which is stable but not static; an order therefore which is reasonably acceptable and which among other things provides a framework in which enterprise can flourish. That would be in the Conservative tradition ……

    From a working paper presented to the federal Caucus of the Progressive Conservative Party by the then National Leader. November 14, 1974

  5. Contrast the views of the view of Progressive Conservatism held by the Hon. Robert Stanfield, above, with the neo Conservative view referenced below:

    Neoconservatism: causation factor of financial crisisEdmund Burke, Irving Kristol and Professor Tom Flanagan … White Rock B.C. – Tuesday, November 25, 2008 – by: Brian Marlatt …http://ensign.ftlcomm.com/editorials/LTE/Marlatt/marlattList/marlatt028/neoconservatism.html

    Parliament is not ‘dysfunctional’: reader – The Hill Times …… that its self-styled “godfather” Irving Kristol uses to contrast with Toryism, … Brian Marlatt White Rock, B.C. (The letter-writer is a member of the …

    http://www.thehilltimes.ca/html/cover_index.php?display=story&full_path=/2008/september/8/letter8/&c=1

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