JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: LIBERAL PARTY’S STRANGE DEATH ? PERHAPS BUT THERE IS AN ARC OF POWER FOR ALL PARTIES FAMILIES AND EMPIRES   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Parties, like great families or national empires, do have a limited life.

A great family like the Eatons rose to being a household word and then declined to nothingness in several decades. Except for the name on the Eaton Centre, no ordinary young person of the next generation will even know who they were.

It is possible, but I don’t absolutely think so, that Canada’s Liberals have begun just that same descent along the arc of power.

To explain this phenomenon of declining power, it is not necessary to assert notions like being spoiled by success.

After all, the set of problems facing a nation changes over time, so much so that in periods of say fifty years, the old problems are forgotten or unrecognized by a different generation.

There have been countless examples of this in my lifetime, the greatest surely being America’s barbarous war in Vietnam.

Today, I’m sure if you asked most young adults about that ghastly effort, killing three million people in ten years of terror, many would not know where Vietnam is located and many would have no idea of when the war occurred.

That inevitable process of fading mass memory over the generations is part of why parties fade away.

But also, leadership always plays a key role. We’ve all seen in great family dynasties the way the iron-willed founders are succeeded often by less capable sons and grandsons.

Just look at Trudeau, one of our great leaders – whether you like his policies or not, he was a great leader. His son Justin, a handsome and intelligent young man, clearly does not possess the same talents and ruthless drive for success. One can almost feel the difference in temperament and attitude and drive.

And the Liberal Party has made some bad choices in its leadership recently.

Then there is the inevitable role of luck and fortune in the rise and fall of parties and families.

Old man Kennedy in the United States made his serious money through work with the Mob during Prohibition. Take away the historical mistake of American Prohibition and likely the Kennedy family would never have risen to such heights.

The bad luck of the Liberals has been two-fold, at least.

First, Quebec having been taken out of play in national politics. Second, the appearance of an opponent more dark and ruthless in his application and abuse of power, Stephen Harper, than they have ever faced.

Harper is simply a new phenomenon in Canada – a man who is perfectly comfortable with the Republican Right types like a Dick Cheney or a Tom Delay or Newt Gingrich – ugly, bad-tempered, ruthless men all.

The Liberals have never faced such a man before. Moreover they do it not with a Trudeau or a Chretien but an Ignatieff, a man of no political experience and little political talent.
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From another reader:

“Shouldn’t Bob Rae be front and centre reminding us what an NDP Government can do to You !!!”

Bob Rae was a responsible and capable premier.

Those were dangerous days economically, and Rae got us through.

He tried the path of the least hurt to people. If it had been someone of Harper’s ilk, I guarantee thousands would have lost their jobs, permanently.

Just wait, if Harper gets his majority, the budget will be balanced on tens of thousands losing their jobs as whole departments and programs are abolished.

To say anything else is just ignorance.

The people still whining about Rae Days make themselves sound like pathetic big babies.

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