Monday, November 28, 2011

Dog Whistle Politics and the Return of Old Dance Partners

 "Borrowed in part from the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Canadian neo-conservatism owes much of it's character to the right-wing populist tradition of the West. "Indeed, Canadians became exporters of neo-con innovation in the 1990s. 'I would say Margaret Thatcher and Mr. [Preston] Manning are the two non-Americans we learned most from'', said U.S. Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich in 1995.

I know him [Preston Manning] because I watched all of his commercials. We developed our platform from watching his campaign.' Like cowboy culture, Canadian neo-conservatism is a growth industry, spawning a whole generation of Will James outlaws in hot pursuit of political power." (Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pref. xiv-xv)
The political cartoon above, first appeared in the Alberta Report Magazine on March 27, 1995, under the caption 'Preston Manning and Newt Gingrich dancing in newt suits'. The two men formed a lasting friendship as they worked out ways to promote combative style politics.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, was then working with Canada's Reform Party, but took his leave to help Newt draft his Contract With America. Ralph Reed of the U.S. Christian Coalition wrote a corresponding document Contract With the American Family, to bring in the Religious Right.

Jason Kenney and company travelled to Washington in 1995 to attend a Christian Coalition conference, and soon after:
... Even more ominous for democratic rights in [British Columbia] is the recent hatching of the B.C. clone of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. With 1.7 million active members and a $25 million (US) annual budget, the U.S. organization has become a formidable lobbying force in American politics, installing its anti-choice, anti-gay agenda and candidates at all levels of government, from school boards to Congress .... the Christian Coalition of Canada materialized after dozens of conservative Christians in this country thronged to Washington, DC, last fall [1995] to attend a major convention of the U.S. organization.

"Advisors" to the new CCC reportedly include Ted and Link Byfield (owners of the ultra-conservative B.C. Report and Alberta Report magazines), Jason Kenny (head of the Canadian Taxpayers Association), and Alex Parachin (head of the Christian Broadcasting Associates in Toronto, the Canadian branch plant of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network).

The B.C. chapter is sure to be a factor in the upcoming election, giving a boost to Reform Party candidates and any others who will go on record opposing abortion ... While Don Spratt may be telling readers "Nobody has anything to fear from the Christian Coalition," progressive activists and journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better." (The Christian Coalition Comes to Canada, by Kim Goldberg, The Albion Monitor, May 5, 1996)
"Journalists will have to make sure the electorate knows better"? Yeah. Good luck with that. A decade and a half later and they still don't get it.

Even Kelly Block's recent attack on our aboriginal communities, stems from American neoconservatism. She's working on behalf of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, described as a pyramid scheme. And CTF is a spin-off of Grover Norquist's Americans For Tax Reform.

Both traverse the country with their debt clocks and force conservative politicians to sign pledges not to increase government revenue. Jason Kenney had Mike Harris sign it in 1995. Enough said.

I now watch American political commentary programs, because it's the only way I know what Harper's next move will be. And it is also the only way to understand the politics of the Conservative Party of Canada. They are part of the Conservative movement that began in the U.S. in the 1940s, imported by Ernest Manning, and they have been in lock step ever since.

We just didn't notice until they came to power in 2006. It has been said that the Harperites introduced Western style politics, but in fact, it was American style Conservatism.

Listening to someone like Evan Solomon, is like having a hockey commentator call the plays at a baseball game. He's not even in the ballpark.

Dog Whistles and Playing to the Base

A letter in Time magazine this week, discusses why many Republicans don't trust Mitt Romney. "They are distrustful of his recent public conversions on abortion, gun control and gay rights, or turned off by his Massachusetts health care law." (November 18, p. 20)

Those conversions of course, refer to the fact that he used to respect gay rights and women's reproductive rights, feared guns, and was committed to improving the health of his constituents, or at least assuring that all had access to good health care. All of these things are now kacky poo poo to the Republican base.

How did they let it get this far?

It's because they only played to that base with dog whistle politics. Saying the right thing to stir up the ignorant and now they are forced to draft policy to appease the ignorant, or risk being unelectable.

On Chris Matthew's Hardball this week, they discussed the rise of Newt Gingrich, who now has the perfect blend of ignorance and moderation, to make everyone happy. At least for now. Newt used to be deemed too right wing. His politics haven't changed, only the expectations of the conservative base.

One panelist on the program, Chicago Tribune columnist, Clarence Page, said that segregation is making a comeback. Instead of signs reading "Blacks to the back of the bus" or "Whites only", Anglo Republican politicians are simply ignoring the concerns of black communities, and turning others against them by suggesting that they are demanding too much.

Be more like the Huxtables and not depend so much on us white folks. You had it better under slavery, so go with that.

Michelle Obama was booed recently by NASCAR fans, prompting Rush Limbaugh to praise them for going after the "uppity" first lady. It was blown out of his dog whistle as "uppity n.....", and the base sang Hallelujah.

Our own Fox News North painted First Nation struggles as being against "white people and Indians" with another banner "we're on your side". The "Indians indulged" makes it pretty clear whose side they're on.

Harper government policies are also a promotion of the new form of segregation. He doesn't attack women, but instead removes the word "equality" from the Status for Women mandate, puts an end to affirmative action and pay equity initiatives, closes 12 of the 16 Status for Women offices and eliminates their research funding.

His government doesn't overtly attack minorities, but closes down Human Rights Commission offices, so that those suffering from discrimination have no place to address their concerns.

Gawd, I wish our media would catch up. Maybe we should send them all dog whistles for Christmas, because they sure as hell are not trying to communicate to us.

When it was discovered that neo-Nazis had infiltrated the Reform Party, Preston Manning fell back on his father's tired line, when the media exposed his extremist elements.

"A bright light attracts bugs."

But as my own father might say: "So does shite."

1 comment:

  1. Stellar postings as per usual but this made me giggle:

    Listening to someone like Evan Solomon, is like having a hockey commentator call the plays at a baseball game. He's not even in the ballpark.