Friday, July 1, 2011

Mushy Middles, Dirty Words and Why we Must Rebuild the Centre

When I posted on why Jack Layton should drop the "brothers and sisters" socialist talk if he hoped to survive the next four years, I received several comments and many emails, telling me that I was wrong.

Many of his followers actually fully support the socialist label, because like Stephen Harper, they believe that Canadians should only have two clear choices. Right or left. Neoconservatism or socialism.

They have no problem with a Harper majority, because they believe that Canadians will become disillusioned with the right, so will jump to the left next election for solutions.

One said that the reason they set out to destroy the Liberals, was because they hated the "mushy middle". The Liberals (and PCs) were able to borrow from both right and left, while attempting to stave off the excesses of both. Not always successfully, but that strong centre has made us who we are as Canadians.

Or at least who we were.

But this reader was convinced that with no "mushy middle", Canadians would get tired of their "empty wallets" and look to the NDP to fill them.

Good luck with that.

Barack Obama was one of the most progressive political leaders that the United States has had in a very long time. And yet the right-wing noise machine, through the Koch Brothers sponsored Tea party, and the Republican Neanderthals, have all but destroyed him.

First by painting him as a "socialist" and then making "socialist" a dirty word. A very clever strategy.

Because the question became not whether some form of socialism might be good for Americans (especially with healthcare), but whether or not Obama was one. And since you had to ask it must be something to be feared.

The same tactic used in identifying him as an Islamic. They actually had polls asking Americans if they thought that Obama was Muslim, as if being Muslim was a disease.

Look at the two images, both produced by Fox News, North and South.

Anything strike you as familiar?

The neocons in the U.S. were even able to destroy ACORN, an umbrella group of community organizers, that has done so many good things.

They first used dirty tricks, and then once they felt that they had discredited the organization sufficiently, they then linked it constantly to the president. It was once something he was proud to put on his resume, now his affiliation, is something he is supposed to be ashamed of.

Obama's ACORN, Ignatieff's Coalition, Layton's Socialism.

Negative connotations to legitimate things.

How many times did the Harperites use "socialists" during the coalition crisis? A coalition of "separatists and socialists". Now the socialists have destroyed the separatists and the picking off of "the socialists" will be like taking candy from a baby for Harper.

Because he has all of the Tea party money and nonsense behind him, and next time around I doubt Layton will get much media support, when they are promised a zero tax rate.

"Mushy middle" parties strived for balance.

The Right-Wing Noise Machine

In her book It's the Crude, Dude; Linda McQuaig discusses the debate around Kyoto. Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration of course hated it, but they also hated any talk of conservation, something Cheney sneered at.

Ralph Goodale responded to Cheney by saying that "conservation was a characteristic of an advanced, intelligent society." (p. 133)

McQuaig goes on to reveal how a Canadian anti-Kyoto group sprang up overnight, sponsored by the oil companies, to defend Dick Cheney's position.

To give some idea of what Jack Layton would be up against if he still plans to go it alone, that group, Responsible Environmental Solutions, was headed up by Guy Giorno and included Harper's former environmental minister, John Baird.

Layton would later allow Stephen Harper to talk him into bringing down the Liberal government on the day that Kyoto was to be ratified, and agreed not to attack Harper during the campaign.

As a result, we will go at least a decade with NO CLIMATE CHANGE plan.

Assorted right-wing think tanks, advocacy groups and noise machines, will never allow the NDP to get elected, and if by some miracle they do, will never allow them to govern.

The Fraser Institute was started to challenge the NDP government of Dave Barrett in British Columbia. Ontarians for Responsible Government (a branch of the National Citizens Coalition) was established to challenge the NDP government of Bob Rae in Ontario.

They won't need to establish a new think tank to take down Jack Layton, because they already have numerous groups, all corporate financed, most American neoconservative inspired.

By destroying his allies, Layton has made himself a big fish in a very small barrel.


  1. Red baiting at it's best Emily.
    "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Calmunist Party?"
    Love it!

  2. Layton hasn't "destroyed his allies.' He's added to their number--he's Opposition Leader now, remember?

    "Brothers and sisters" isn't deference to "socialism" (where the mode of address would be "comrade"). It's the honorific of choice within the labour movement, and actually derives from Christian traditions, back when progressive elements of the church were on the side of workers' associations.

    Of course, whatever the NDP does, it will be subject to the right-wing noise machine, better-known as "capitalism." Whether revolution or subtler and more intelligent means, it's the same struggle and the same fight for us that we've always had.

  3. The first two comments exemplify the extremes.

    The Centre that has served Canada is in disarray.

    Policy directions ought not to be arrived at on the basis on ideological beliefs - but on taking the best course for now and the future in the lihjy of current realities

  4. What is painfully obvious is that the Liberals and all others who occupy the "mushy middle" have been negligent in establishing their own think tanks and lobby groups.

    Since "big money" cannot be used directly to support campaigns, why haven't the Liberals capitalized on their once-solid support to establish said think tanks? Any why the heck haven't they done something about 3rd party advertising?

    Now I fear that the support that they once enjoyed from deep-pocketed sponsors has slipped away. They need to get it back, and pronto, and counter the Fraser Institute with a highly reputable organization of their own-- and not just let the Cons walk away with it.

  5. I agree, the next step is crushing the Opposition, which in this case means the NDP.
    While this is happening, the "mushy middle" had better get busy, as Laura said, to be able to "counter the Fraser Institute with a highly reputable organization of their own" -- there are plenty of intellectuals in the Liberal Party, even without Michael Ignatieff at the head of the party.
    The ridiculous statements of the neocons have to be met with indisputable arguments in favor of Canada, not in favor of a party or even a policy.
    "Canada, we stand on guard for thee" is more than a line from an anthem. It means someone, and in this case the middle, mushy or not, must stand on guard for the good of the country. Not for lining the pockets of the rich. Not for espousing the policies of the left. But for protecting the country and its people.