I have a friend at law school named Jack (pseudonym of my own choice). Jack is intelligent, works hard, and clearly already has a disgustingly impressive career ahead of him. Jack is also a Tory (he’s worked for the Minister of Justice), and we like to argue politics all the time because arguing politics with a friend who disagrees with you in good faith on serious issues (in our case, mostly philosophical differences over taxation and the size and appropriate power level of government) is something that just makes you sharper for arguing your own case, as well as forcing you to think hard about your own positions in the process.
Last Monday, I got to come into class and watch him be annoyed with Stephen Harper for overreaching. This Monday, he got to come into class and watch me be annoyed with the Liberal party in general, and it’s for the same reason I always get annoyed with the Liberal party. As Jack said to me, “how can you support, even slightly, a party that’s only interested in power?”
And of course anybody worth supporting in the Liberals – Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy, Ken Dryden, Garth Turner, Justin Trudeau, Martha Hall Findlay, et cetera – isn’t just interested in power. The problem for the Liberals is that people of this stripe are perceived to be a minority. And the reason that people think serious, dedicated public servants are a minority in the Liberal ranks is because they are a minority in the Liberal ranks.
The coalition debacle – and make no mistake, at this point it’s a debacle – is simply one case in point. It’s been less than two weeks since the coalition agreement was announced. Since then, half a dozen Liberals have publicly stated they’re against the coalition, including that useless limpdick Michael Ignatieff. Guess what, assholes: the moment to say you were against the coalition? Was before you stopped thinking it might work. Don’t try to convince anybody that you were taking time to deliberate about whether or not it was the right thing to do; we all know you were just waiting to figure out whether or not the public liked the idea.
The sad thing is that the public could have been convinced to support the idea, if the Liberal Party had had the balls it never ever seems to fucking need. “This is a perfectly normal procedure in Canada’s Parliamentary system; we’ve just never had occasion to use it.” “Germany has coalition governments all the time and their government works just fine.” “We represent sixty-two percent of the popular vote in Canada; last I checked, that was a majority.” “Stephen Harper was trying to get a coalition government formed in 2004 and he didn’t seem to think it was such a horrible idea then.” The Tory arguments against a coalition government were so hypocritical and base and just plain stupid that it should have been easy: just get everybody you can to a podium somewhere and let them take turns making the Tories look like asshats.
Except that didn’t happen, did it? It didn’t happen because the Grits didn’t want to get on board and risk their asses, precisely because most of them never want to risk their asses. It didn’t happen for the same reason Stephane Dion’s leadership collapsed: precious few in the party were willing to step up and go to bat for the team, not when it would get in the way of their own political futures. (The idea that stepping up and fighting on principle can create a political future is foreign to these idiots, I swear.)
It’s a party full of Liebermans, a collection of spineless twats with beliefs so vaguely defined that they can mean anything and be anything except something. People have blamed Stephane Dion’s image for being the reason why the Conservatives came out ahead in the last election, but that’s not it at all – when people saw Dion in the debates, they liked him more. The problem with the Liberal Party is that people think they’re weasels, and they know that the Tories stand for something. They might not agree with the Tories on most things, but at least, they figure, the Tories are neutered by Canada’s general political beliefs. (Whether or not this would be the case in the instance of a Tory majority government is up for debate.)
In the choice between “fuck you” and “eh,” people will choose “fuck you” more often than “eh.” That the Liberals still don’t get this is one of the reasons their party is gradually dying.