Alas, it's another election season in the province of Alberta. In Edmonton, we've been inundated with them recently. We've had our mayoral election, which ultimately resulted in the extinction of Bill Smith, the perrenial political dinosaur, and of course there was the exercise in democratic futility that was the American Presidential Election (Locutus would be proud).
Just as with the American election, I'm noticing a trend amongst left-wing political forces in the province: that is, they have a platform of exactly one point: Ralph Klein is an asshole.
Ralph Klein is apparently the devil. Fuck me, I thought my first grade teacher was. But apparently, I was wrong. Ralph Klein has taken Alberta's incredible amount of revenue and put down payment on all seven rings of hell, and is currently building himself a pretty nice beach house on the lake of fire.
What I'm bascially referring to here is the lack of will amongst the left-wing to contest the actual issues regarding Ralph Klein and the PCs chokehold on governance for the past 12 years. While there are many weak points and black marks on Ralph Klein's record that can be looked at, there is very little attention being given to these matters. What seems to be sucking up all of the attention is Ralph Klein himself. Ralph the man. It seems that the supporters of the NDP and Green Party in particular (although I would exempt the Liberal party from this) want to contest this election on the question of whether or not Ralph Klein is an asshole.
That makes for some pretty weak politics.
Why is so relatively little attention being paid to Klein flirting with the ideas of de-regulation, and so much being paid to his less admirable personality traits?
The answer is rather simple: a belief has emerged that Ralph Klein is the lord and master of right-wing politics in the province of Alberta, and that right wing politics must be destroyed and supplanted entirely by left wing politics. There is even a poem in Songs of the Street Vol. 5 that tells us this. The right wing is evil, the left-wing is good, and evil must be destroyed. Period.
But what is necessary here is a time-out to remember what the right wing and left wing actually represent, not what we would be made to believe they do by those who are allowing their passions to get the better of them. We are told that right wing politics is all about money, and all about personal gain. Which is, as the left wing expects us to believe, why King Ralph is noticably friendly to corporations (those evil, evil corporations) and the interests of the wealthy.
We would also be made to believe that left wing politcs are all about human rights and equality -- in other words (at least those of the left wing) all that is good and true in the world. This explains why the NDP believe that it is wise to tax citizens into debt in order to fund social welfare programs that will ultimately drive any state into debt as well. Everyone wins!!!
Fuck all that.
Because it isn't true. Strictly speaking, what left wing politics are ultimately about is change. Why have human rights and equality become so closely associated with the left wing? Because these have been the great battle of the past three hundred years. And these things required change. Take the civil rights movement in the United States. Civil rights in the United States. Especially in the southern states, this required tremendous amounts of change. This is where the right wing comes in.
The right wing represents maintaining the status quo. It isn't about oppression, it's about an idea: things are alright as is. Which, of course, is rarely the case. This is why the status quo becomes so associated with some of the redneck ideals that the province of Alberta is known for. People don't tend to like change. In fact, they fear it. Everyone knows this, we have known it since forever.
Was segregation and inequality in the United States right? Hell, no. As with feminism world wide, the civil rights movement (world wide) accomplished things that were necessary for the world to become a better place. God bless them. But here comes the rub:
If the current reality of the world is equality (which it isn't, but let us assume that it is), we still have the problem of the Neo-Nazis and the KKK. If human rights and equality are the norm and the world is a wonderful place in which everyone is sooooo happy, then the Neo-Nazis and the KKK have just become proponents of left wing politics. After all, change is the domain of the left wing.
Clearly, moral and ideological divisions of the left wing from the right wing are nearly impossible. Believing that the left wing is all about equality and social welfare is putting the cart in front of the horse. For the industrialized world to go from being an oppressive capitalist monopoly on freedom to being a completely egalitarian state, something must be done. If we consider this to be a horse, well, somebody has to pull that fucker. What pulls the cart? Change is the horse that pulls the cart. A similar idea applies to the right wing. If maintaining the status quo is what we wish, then something has to pull that cart back the other way. After all, as Newton's laws of physics tell us, while an object at rest stays at rest, once somebody gets it moving, it's going to stay moving until somebody stops that bitch. So what to do? We attach a horse to the other side of the cart, and pull the other motherfucking way.
Thus we have the problem with "us vs. them" partisan politics. At the end of the day, little (if anything) gets done. Dividing ourselves along lines of the left and right ends of the political spectrum is counter-productive. We may make progress from time to time, but how do we know if it is in the right direction?
In Alberta, we will be debt-free in 2005. That's a pretty big accomplishment. How has this happenend? Ralph Klein's PC government tightened its belt for a few years, and cut spending to social programs. Now, as long as our politicans are able to maintain a balanced budget, we should have a surplus for a long, long time. The world is now literally our Oyster.
So, what do we do? Do we give the tories the boot? "Thanks for paying the debt. No good deed goes unpunished." Do we turn over the Alberta legislature to a Liberal party that has proven themselves to be just as corrupt and morally unaccountable as any "evil conservative fascist regime"? Do we roll the dice on the NDP, knowing that the use of Saskatchewan as a testing ground for their theories on government has been such an unmitigated failure?
Hopefully, the answer will be none of these.
I'd like to quote Fritz Lang, the director of Metropolis (the 1927 silent film version, not that bad ass Tezuka version): "the mediator between head and hands must be the heart". What I mean by this is, the hands and head cannot really get along without each other. The hands will toil in vain without the head to guide it, and without hands, the head's designs will go for naught.
The left wing and right wing need each other. Each are indispensible. To quote so many Arby's commercials, "change is good". But while we're caught up in the ideal of revolutionary change, let us learn the lessons of the 1917 Russian Revolution: while we're changing things, let's not fuck them up worse than they were in the first fucking place.
The change the left wing so desires must be tempered by the pragmatics of the right wing.
So I have a message for all the ultra-left wing douchebags who would rather demonize Ralph Klein than talk real politics: the province of Alberta is much better off with a Conservative majority government with a strong NDP/Liberal/Green Party opposition. Furthermore, this is a much more realistic goal than complete left wing dominance of provincial politics.
The future of politics lies not with the left wing or the right wing. It lies with the moderates. It is us who shall be the mediators.