Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jack Layton is Not Obama - He's Ralph Nader

Yowza. Bob Rae is landing some effective punches in his blog these days. A recent post:

The trouble with the NDP
by Bob Rae

Jack Layton's decision to fight Elizabeth May and the Green Party's participation in the leader's debate might surprise some. It didn't surprise me.

For a party that once immersed itself in principle, it is admittedly a come down, but it's been clear for some time now that it is narrow self-interest and not high principle that drives "Jack Layton's NDP".

In the Toronto Centre by-election I was struck how the NDP campaign had reduced itself to two themes: class warfare and character assassination. Corporations bad, wealth creation bad, rich guys vs poor guys, "working families" vs what? Lazy families? And attack your opponent for being whatever you want on the day.

The NDP is eternally frustrated by its own decisions to put itself on the margins, and it shows its frustration by retreating to its themes: class warfare and character assassination. So it was. So it will be.

Their attack on the Harper government is a model of hypocrisy, because this is, after all, The House That Jack Built. It was the NDP's gamble that it could defeat child care, Kelowna, urban investment, and then get something better. It didn't, got something much worse, and has never had the honesty to admit its mistake.

Now they're yapping once again about being "the real opposition". What a joke. The point is not to criticize Harper, it is to replace him. And the NDP can't do that, because in the end it will always revert to the Two Themes: class warfare and character assassination.

The NDP decision to exclude the Greens isn't about principle, it's about saving their own skin.

Tom King, the NDP candidate in Guelph, said it last night "the Liberals are the bad guys, they are the enemy". We have the most right wing government in history and the NDP turns its guns on the Liberals. And the Greens.

We need to build a progessive coalition to defeat the Harperites. This isn't about saving the NDP's skin. It's about defeating, and replacing, a government that doesn't believe in child care, better health care, a new partnership with first nations, Metis, and Inuit, investment in cities and has no commitment whatsoever to the environment. The NDP doesn't get that. Jack Layton thinks he's Obama. What a joke. He's Ralph Nader, hand on the horn, "no difference between Bush and Al Gore".


tom s. said...

Odd of Mr. Rae to spend a post assassinating the character of someone he accuses of character assassination.

And the stuff about admitting mistakes? The change this time to focusing on Harper is obviously in part because of criticism within the NDP, just as the switch over Green participation in the debate was driven in part by criticism from many party members.

Sounds to me like Bob Rae wants a two-party system. Well sorry, that's not the way it is and that's all there is to it.

Yappa said...

Hi Tom -

I can see I've given offence. Sorry about that. I published Bob's post because I found it interesting for two reasons:

1. I think he has something insightful to say about the problem with the leadership of the NDP, and I don't think it's fair to say he wants a two-party system. It's not unrealistic to say that the NDP is not a contender in this election, and is not helping national politics by playing as one. This trend from the party of conscience and ideas to a party aiming to run the country is problematic for many left leaners and has been talked about a lot.

At this point it's a fairly safe bet that the possible outcomes of this election are: Tory majority, Tory minority, or Liberal minority. If the latter, we might have an opportunity to form a progressive coalition... except that it seems unlikely that Jack Layton would do that. ...Anyway, that's how I understood Bob's post, and why I thought he was pissed at Tom King's comment.

2. To my knowledge over many years, Bob is a really even-handed, conciliatory person, and it's unusual to hear him be so angry. He is also still NDP-leaning (remember he got in hot water during the leadership race because he had given money to NDP candidates in the previous election) and has a lot of insider knowledge.

I think the NDP is a really important national party that's needed, but they don't seem to be moving the country forward the way they used to because of this strategy of playing to win by fighting the parties closest to them policy-wise.

Having said all that, I'm plenty mad at the Liberals too. The Liberals are the ones who should be mounting a defence against Harper and they're completely failing us.


tom s. said...

No offence taken - just knocking Mr. Rae.