Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why I'm a Groucho Marxist

Groucho Marxism is the newest movement in politics. Or a really old one depending on your view of such things. The mantra of the new party is very simple:
"I do not want to belong to any party that would have me as a member"
I have become increasingly frustrated by ideology and the apparent assumption that the party knows best. Political parties, are exclusionary by design, most people do not belong to one and even less understand the inherit risks associated with them.
I will paraphrase the risks in an overly dramatic fashion:
In the early 1930's Adolph Hitler organized a group called the NAZI party. At no time did this party represent the views of the majority of Germans, it was a splinter group of white supremist radicals that used muscle and intimidation to control election results. If you were not a supporter you were taking your life in your hands trying to vote, the risk of physical harm kept people away from voting in droves and was a very effective tool in getting the small group into and holding onto power.
Similar things occur, not so much on voting day, but certainly during nominations. Crowds of people, plugging parking lots or sending false voting instructions are all minor examples of exactly the same strategy.  This is why I will no longer belong to any single political party. I am in the somewhat unique position of having won an election unexpectedly and have friends who have similar feelings or experiences with party politics, either as former members of a caucus or as former senior ministers reduced to back benches while valiantly resisting being pushed right out the door.
Candidate vetting, which was ramped up substantially this election, includes the use  of private detectives, not for the protection of the public but for the protection of the party. Controversial individuals are as unwelcome as a cold sore on prom night. The preferred candidates are malleable, squeaky clean and nice shiny representations of the party.
Now I agree that convicted felons might not be the ideal candidates, but the reality is that everyone has something in their past that best stay there. I for one, do not want to know the details of the Jamie Lall restraining order. Something that happened eight years ago can hardly be considered representative of character, yet it was apparently enough, and while the party machine can control a lot using the carrot and the stick, they lose control of those who are on the outside and can only hope to keep them quiet by increasing the size of the stick.
While not the same as physical assaults witnessed in Germany in the 1930's, the end result is the same: muzzled politicians, government employees and party officials.  Civil libertarians want people to be free to speak, but politics is not a democratic process. This factor, the limitation of democracy in politics has created numerous strange bedfellows over the years and is quite likely going to create a three way in the bed that is the Alberta Legislature. It will be interesting indeed to see how the Wild rose, NDP and PC's cohabitate if the polls are even remotely close to being accurate. Cutting across party lines is the best thing that could happen in our legislature; cooperation replacing adversarial confrontation will make question period a lot less interesting but will probably result in more reasoned, rational and accountable legislation endorsed by at least two thirds of the parties in the house. (If the liberals survive, half)

And because of the varied interests of the parties, todays bedmate may not be tomorrows bedmate but everyone will have to behave if they expect to get invited a second time.

Coalitions and minorities are not bad or wrong, they are only feared by those in power: put simply, If I am the winner in a win lose situation I have no incentive to care about win-win.   If I am not on the win side I have a huge incentive.

I do not believe there is any golden child in party politics. While I am a birthright Republican I don't  think that any one ideology necessarily reflects all of my views. So I said farewell to parties and the system of leverages and said hello to the notion that I will either belong to no party or all of them. My money however, will never go to a party, it will only go to deserving candidates.

I'd say join me in the Groucho Marxist movement, but anyone who takes the idea of being a Groucho Marxist seriously wouldn't join anyway.

Good luck on Tuesday.

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