Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Excerpt from "The Case for Partisanship"

Is polarization along political lines healthy for how a nation is governed? I used to wonder why watching the Parliamentary Channel of Question Period sometimes the Opposition Party just didn’t agree with the government on what was overall good legislation. Why, I would ask, is it necessary to resort to catcalling and buffoonery? Why not more cooperation? There was time in American politics when there was more cooperation, and sometime the blending of party lines. This actually caused more harm on forming internal policies, according to Matthew Yglesias, author of "The Case for Partisanship," (The Atlantic, April 2008). Opposition parties are task to oppose the government, and to show to their constituents that they represent their concerns.


That said, what usually causes the rise of new [political] parties, or the loosening and confusion of existing ones, is the emergence of new social conflicts that are so overwhelmingly important that they strain the existing coalitions, scrambling party position on everything else. Despite the ferocious rhetoric, the new issues of recent years – primarily related to sex and religion – haven’t been controversial enough to disturb the existing [Republican and Democratic] alignment. Perhaps religion will one day do that, causing the depolarization of the parties along economic and foreign-policy lines, or the rise of a viable party in some states. But of course, this cure for polarized parties would be worse than the disease. Strong clashes between coherent parties aren’t a sign that the country is flying apart – they mean we’re getting along better than we think.


As it applies to Canadian politics what we experienced in the last session of Parliament was not dysfunction as claimed by the Conservative government. The polarization between the said party and its primary opposition was operating as expected. There probably was a lack of willingness to compromise and give up control by Stephen Harper. There probably was internal conflict within the Liberal Party. Yet, the government of the land was working. Therefore, it can be reasonably argued Prime Minister Harper violated the public trust to call a federal election, despite having created a law for fixed election dates, on the above premise. I maintain the position, that the Canadian action group Democracy Watch is pursuing through the Federal Court, that the current government is illegitimate. It knowingly broke the law for opportunistic reasons. If it believes it can do so without penalty, it will certainly try to do so again.




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