Friday, July 21, 2017

Kenney in the Henhouse

Phil Burpee - Politics, which is the science and craft of people governing themselves, only has functional meaning when it is dynamic and subject to change within the general evolution of the society within which it occurs. This is why the political life of a liberal democracy is so compelling, because no politician ever really knows what’s coming around the next corner and players are forever foraging around in a flux of events and circumstance trying as best they can to read the various entrails and hopefully reap the reward of the votes of the masses. When a society is working well and to the benefit of the vast majority of its citizens, ever-watchful also for the displacement of marginalized folk outside the good life, then politics can and should be a joyous thing, drawing in the best and brightest minds whose sole intent is the betterment of all and the constant distancing from our infantile and brutish past – think Peter Lougheed, T.C. Douglas, Flora MacDonald. That’s the glass half full.

But politics can also be a deadening drudge, glazing over the eyes of the voter and creating a miasma of cynicism and apathy. Voter turnout plummets and unscrupulous fixers encourage and propagate this narrative of crooked politicians and useless government in order to disenfranchise that same voter through extinguishing the very desire to vote, thus undermining the very foundation-stone of democracy itself – think Wacky Bennett, King Ralph, Peter McKay. Yes, the glass half empty – with flat beer and a soggy cigarette butt floating around like a bloated fish.

Now, the other thing that must be said about healthy politics is that it must have a clearly perceivable range of viewpoints and options, stemming from well-considered bodies of political philosophy, and providing for the citizen a solid spectrum of choices from which to choose. And though my political sensibilities have always been on the left, I have long enjoyed good argumentation and thoughtful articulation of policy from engaged proponents of principles rather more to the right of centre. Small-c conservatism is filled with sensible and reliable ideas gleaned from centuries of carefulness and resistance to any arbitrary upset of known and tested mechanisms of life and society. This is why bastions of conservatism often find their greatest strength amongst agricultural country folk for whom the vagaries of nature are already sufficiently perilous, and any whiff of radical change is a call for alarm. There are, of course, exceptions to this. It ought to be no surprise, for instance, that the greatest engine of socialist thought and action in this country in the 20th century stemmed from prairie farmers in the 1930s and 1940s whose lives had been ravaged and ruined by a combination of dust-bowl weather patterns and the obscene assaults laid against them by fat-cat bankers and their Tory enablers who stole their land and livelihoods with merciless and usurious mortgage schemes, whereby family farms were foreclosed and given over to agro-industrial interests at ten cents on the dollar. To hell with that! They rose up and sent Tommy Douglas out to do battle – the little preacher and Golden Gloves champ.

Okay – back to the here and now – Alberta 2017. A word to all my sisters and brothers in the Wildrose. First, we, us lefties, beat you fair and square the last time around. Your house was not in order and you hadn’t yet fully recovered from the whole Jim and Danielle thing, not to mention all that fooferah a while back about gays burning in lakes of fire and white men being the best managers of a multi-cultural society’s concerns, etc. Nice try but no cigar. Now, however, an even greater danger lurks, ready to snatch you up and spit you out like so much chewed cud…..yes…. the Tory Titan is at your door! Mr. Dumpty with his Wrangler wide-fits and back-room shtick is cruising up and down in front of your house in his big pick-up truck yodelling out the window about how nice it would be to get together under a nice big tent to give voice to Conservatives throughout the province and unseat the unholy Notley from the throne with all her socialist, rad/fem underlings and return Power to the righteous and the right. Oh, it’s an alluring idea, is it not? Gee – maybe it just might work too – then we could fix everything, axe the tax, free up the marketplace, dig more coal, deregulate whatever’s left to deregulate, give the important jobs back to over-fifty white males, and generally re-instate the Golden Age that, sadly, never actually was. Ah, to dream, to dream……..

Well, don’t do it sisters and brothers! Resist the temptation! Isn’t it all too obvious? Jason Kenney has absolutely no intention whatsoever of being anything but the boss of this road-show. You think he’s going to all this effort to just sit in the backseat? I don’t think so. You see, the thing is that the Wildrose, if it were to get its head out of its – uh – exhaust pipe for a minute, could actually be a credible voice for the better interests of its constituents, and need not at all be mean or reactionary or just plain dopey like it so often is. And what’s the alternative anyway? I’ll tell you – the same-ol’, same-ol’ Tories – that’s what. Jason Kenney and his Tory machine, with their corporate cronies and backers, will lurch up zombie-like from out of the ashes of the still-smouldering PC funeral pyre and crush you like vermin. Yikes! Don’t let this happen. Drive a stake into the heart of this vicious old beast and stand your ground. Hold to principle! Let these Tory dinosaurs sink once and for all into the steaming swamp of oblivion which they so richly deserve. Kill them off like so much stink weed. This is the moment!

There will be a price, of course. Notley will win again and you will remain Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. However, with the Tories toast, other than perhaps a pitiful rump caucus, she might be held to a minority and you might actually get some leverage in the legislature, instead of just barking at the moon like you’ve been doing. This could give you the opportunity to actually speak to the better interests of all your fellow Albertans, and not merely blather on about unrealistic what-ifs – nobody’s bringing back the thirty-five cent gallon of gas. So quit spinning your wheels. Ditch the super-creepy Fildebrandt and his coterie of half-wits and dog-whistlers and leave him to set off into the political wilderness with his followers to establish a far-right fringe that can scrabble around in the boonies like so many rabid mutts. This will leave the Wildrose to become a centre-right movement, just as the NDP has moved to the centre-left, and which can realistically consider some future access to power, espousing principles of decency, common sense, prudence and fiscal conservatism instead of the fog-horning noise we currently hear from Mr. Jean which amounts to nothing much other than vilifying the NDP on any and all fronts – no matter that much of what they are doing is long overdue and entirely appropriate to the times.

But first – rebuff these conniving Tories. This is essential. As Larry Zolf once quipped about the federal NDP’s take on the prospect of getting in coalition cahoots with the Liberals – “Like having oral sex with a shark.” It’s the same here. Kenney and the PCs will cheat you, lie to you, undermine you, and generally leave you with your heads spinning as they take the ball and run. They will lead you to the alter and bolt, leaving the hapless Wildrose to contemplate its withered corsage as the wily Kenney bombs up the highway in a cloud of blue Tory smoke.

You know, there’s an old adage attributed to the great military tactician Clausewitz – “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” Pithy words. But I think ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson hit it more squarely – “Everybody’s got a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”

I’m telling you – open your eyes here. These filthy old Tories know no shame when it comes to subterfuge and fork-tongued sweet-talk. During their forty-four years in power they managed to turn Alberta from a hopeful land filled with hard-working dreamers into a basket-case of fiscal impropriety and lost opportunity. They pissed it all away and gave it to the rich and the absent – and right out in broad daylight too. Show them no mercy, I say, dear Wildrosers – finish them off like the sick animal they are. Pull up your socks, folks, and join the twenty-first century. Be as conservative as you like and make your pitch to the voters. But stop this foolishness of thinking you can deal with the soulless, vacant-eyed snapping turtle that lives at the core of Tory perfidy.

Notley’s got your number, and she’s sharp and bold to boot. If you don’t like what she’s doing then make your case otherwise – but without the knee-jerk sound-bites that make you sound like so many little Trumpettes. Show some spine here – don’t weaken. The fox is at the henhouse door. Get out the .410 and dust his fancy tail all the way out to the road and gone. There’s little time left. Jason is throwing pebbles up at your bedroom window. And there’s a knock, knock, knockin’ at your front door.


Vote NO!

Phil Burpee
July 19, 2017

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