Saturday, February 16, 2008

Poliitcs of Fear Continue to Predominate

Some "progressive" bloggers want you to be afraid -- very afraid

Ever since the 2004 US presidential election, the politics of fear has been a hot topic in North American politics.

Progressives from both sides of the 49th parallel decried the blatant fear mongering of the Bush reelection campaign. At one point it was even suggested that terrorists had pledged themselves to attack any US state that voted for Kerry.

Meanwhile, that same year, a similar fear campaign was being waged north of the 49th parallel, as the Liberal party, beset by scandle, scrambled to make Canadians afraid of the Conservative party.

The campaign culminated with this infamous ad:

It all more or less revolves around the rhetorical bomb that was the hidden agenda -- the idea that, while putting on a benign face for the purpose of courting voters, the Conservative party actually carried a much more malignant plan which was essentially to dismantle Canada "as we know it".

Despite this so-called hidden agenda remaining nowhere to be seen during the past two years of Conservative party government, politically-motivated faux-Progressives are getting ready to launch another fear-based assault on Canadian democracy.

This time the attack revolves around Lloydminster-Battleford MP and Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz, whose frustration in trying to implement the government's democratically-approved agenda for the Canadian Wheat Board has apparently begun to bubble over.

This past week, the CWB continued to rebuff the democratically-expressed will of prairie grain producers when they terminated talks with the federal government regarding the ending of the board's monopoly on Barley.

"To say that I'm extremely disappointed to hear that the Canadian Wheat Board is unwilling to discuss change for western Canadian producers would be an understatement," Ritz announced.

The government will be introducing legislation into the House of Commons -- expected to be opposed by the Liberals and NDP -- to end the single-desk marketing system for Barley and move to an open market. This, in one way or another, is favoured by 62.2% of prairie grain farmers.

But the Wheat Board isn't playing ball with the farmers whose interests they're supposed to represent -- or with the government whose wheat board agenda certainly was a factor in helping them sweep Canada's prairie breadbasket during the most recent federal election.

"The board has sufficiently stalled things long enough that they'll survive until after the election," he added. "When we come back with a majority, then all bets are off."

Various faux-progressives have essentially been jumping for joy since Ritz went so far as to suggest that, if (or, in his view, when) the Conservative party is reelected with a majority that they might... you know, implement their agenda. You know... the not-so-hidden one.

One can almost sense the glee in the faux-progressive corner of the blogosphere as they anticipate maybe... just maybe... being able to peddle fear to the Canadian electorate again.

Of course, that is what makes them faux-progressives as opposed to legitimate progressives. Legitimate progressives recognize that fear-mongering is inherently regressive, no matter what kind of left-wing agenda it's used to implement. Fear undermines the crucial bonds of trust that make democracy truly work, and lead to a more cynical, less democratic, society.

Of course, to Lindsay Stewart and her ilk, this isn't an issue about "progress" or "democracy". It's simply an issue about getting their way, on every issue, regardless of whether or not they have a stake in a particular issue (it's intriguing to see how many Ontario farmers -- who voted to abolish their Wheat Board long ago -- seem to be opposed to the same thing happening on the prairies).

Legitimate progressives, meanwhile, swore off fear mongering long, long ago. They did this in the name of fostering healthy democracies, not unhealthy demagogracies.

That's what makes them progressives. Now, if only demagogues like Lindsay Stewart knew the difference.

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