Is this it, then? John Lorinc has speculated that if Stephen Harper wins again, the go-for-broke legacy program he hits us with is going to make the last few years feel like a warm bath.
And even if Harper loses, so what? Justin Trudeau isn’t going to fix anything. C-51? He’s fine with it. The G20? Bill Blair is one of his star candidates, and they both seem to think we should all just STFU about it, because after all, it was five years ago. Free trade? That’s just part of the destructive legacy of Chretien/Martin.
Tom Mulcair? Well, even if he has a genuinely progressive agenda, does anyone really think he’ll be allowed to implement it? How much juice does a popular mandate carry nowadays anyway, in the face of coordinated opposition from Bay Street, international finance, the media noise machine, and Serious Responsible People™? We’ll spend a few twitchy years watching the Masters of the Universe using him for a piñata despite his best efforts to seem “moderate” and “reasonable,” and nothing will really change.
Sure, maybe we can have debates over policy, but what are they going to mean when we’ve allowed the scope for public policy to be so profoundly diminished? If we can’t enact laws to protect our environment, our health-care system, our online privacy, our food-safety system, or any other aspect of the public sphere for fear of being sued in secretive supranational tribunals by investment vehicles seeking to recoup lost profits, then what’s the point of even talking about public policy in the first place?
Well … shit. This may be the year we come face to face with it: we’ve lost any semblance of functioning democracy, and we don’t even care because we’re too worn down / frightened into compliance / distracted by sideshows. The election is there to provide the illusion of popular input, but the fundamental direction of the country isn’t going to change no matter who wins. The choices have already been made for us by people we’ll never meet, whose names we’ll never know, whose functions and surreptitious string-pulling we’ll likely never perceive or understand. All we’re doing on election day is picking a brand of toothpaste and kidding ourselves that it really matters. If this isn’t like a malignant cancer, then I don’t know what is.
Let’s be honest. The fabric of society, the whole post-war deal that sustained the so-called “middle class,” has been under concerted attack since the days of Reagan and Thatcher in the early 1980s. With each year, each cut, each act of violence to the social contract, they’ve managed to chip away a little more of the foundation. A small minority takes more and more while everyone else has to make do with less and less. Can anybody point to a successful effort to push it back since then?
Roll back the goalposts? Fat chance. We’ll be lucky if we can even slow the bleeding.
- Rolling back the damage: are we a country, or a commodity?
- Reversing course after one election? Good luck with that
- Civic engagement in the face of democratic deficit
- In defence of the public sphere
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- 2012: The Year of Conversing Dangerously