Thursday, August 13, 2009

Canada's Pragmatic Politics: Standing For Nothing

Lawrence Martin spends this article praising the mushy middle of politics. The progressive, the pragmatic, the popular position.

Now while I'm not interested in praising the Conservatives for their pragmatism I will note that many political pundits in the last few years, since the fall of the Liberal hegemony in Canada have made much noise, type and hype out of lambasting that party for its lack of direction. They have resoundingly skewered the Liberal party for its whim-driven adherence to, well, nothing more substantial than the power they sought and the votes that would get them there... So, fast forward and suddenly this same course of progressive pragmatism is the course of action for the Conservatives?

Personally I could care less at this point. After a number of years of supporting the Conservatives I now realize that as far as the 4 main parties* in Canada are concerned the average voters choice is bad, worse, disastrous and irrelevant.

What I really want to get at is the notion that pragmatism in politics is somehow a good thing.

Pragmatism is defined as; "A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences." now on the surface that doesn't sound too bad, but the problem is that as it is applied in politics the practical applications and consequences part is lost and the definition more closely adheres to "A way of approaching political situations or solving social problems that emphasizes majority rule regardless of principal."

Gone is the idea that the solution must work or that it must be practical. Consequences are only considered, if at all, as something to be dealt with or "spun" at the next election.

But even if the actual definition was closely followed there is a major problem... Where are the beliefs, the ideals, the principles upon which decisions will be made?

When being in charge, as the leader of a nation you have to be able to enunciate that there are things in which you believe. The foundations of any society are the things that are accepted and believed by the individuals within it, for right or wrong for good or ill.

Obviously we've gotten away from anything so hide-bound as principals as far as politics are concerned in this country. It no longer seems to matter what a political party, or you as a politician believe, the important thing is how many people you can convince that you believe the same thing they do. That's pragmatism, and that is the thing which Mr. Martin extols in his article.

So the pragmatic virtue of the Conservative party is the ability of the party to say on the eve of the recession that they do not believe that bailouts are the solution only to pragmatically bail out any and all takers less than a month later!

The truth is pragmatism is little more than political newspeak for the sentence "We are going to lie to you."

What ever happened to ideas and ideals? Where did the principled politicians go? Why do so few people ask this question?

Who is John Galt?

* I do not include the Bloc because they can not and will not run candidates in any province other than Quebec

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