Thursday, January 17, 2013

Damn It, I'm A Liberal?

In the past year I've attended my first political protest, written extensively on the politics around teaching and became a local union executive, then quit, then brought my union before the Ontario Labour Relations Board for misrepresentation.  The danger in waking someone up is that you don't necessarily know what they are going to do, they don't either - they were asleep before.

My union, like many other political organizations, needs people to wake up enough to participate or the organization fails. Watching the latest round of acclamated 'elected' officials take over executive leadership roles had me wondering about how apathy is playing into this particular democracy. Getting into the union swing of things caused greater discomfort - the socialist language of all those brothers & sisters and the strident alignment of ideas passed down from on high all made me uneasy. It got worse when I found my union ignoring its own rules and abusing members for political gain.

I'd initially been hesitant to join the union in a larger capacity because the equality at all costs philosophy that underlies them didn't agree with me. I couldn't articulate what I didn't like about it, but I also knew I wasn't a conservative, looking to keep the status quo, and unions do (did?) provide a valuable protection for the middle class against right wing greed. Like many other Canadians I've been pushed to extremes in an attempt to protect myself.

Since I became a Canadian citizen five years ago I've been trying to find my political stripe.  The recent incompetence of the Ontario Liberal Party put me off a party that I was otherwise on the verge of joining.  It took Akaash Maharaj on CBC's The Current to bring what Liberalism as a political stance is into focus for me:  Click on LISTEN and go to about 6:18.  That stance has also made me realize just how unliberal McGuinty's party has been in their desperate attempts to appear fiscally conservative in order to chase poll numbers.  Liberals would never remove democratically guaranteed rights, how is that respecting individualism as much as possible? Liberals would never attempt to remove local representation in an effort to reduce costs and consolidate power in a single person - this is the very opposite of liberal values.

Liberalism is a belief, not a halfway house between conservative economics of business and socialist economics of people.  Liberalism is valuing individual freedom to the extent possible without infringing on the freedom of others. It is inherently meritocratic, meaning it rewards merit and ability.  Liberalism does not advocate the enforced equality of socialism, it advocates for freedom of opportunity. It also implies that those more capable have the responsibility of maintaining this meaningful meritocracy and guaranteeing that freedom of opportunity to everyone who comes after them.

I've never felt comfortable with socialism's flattening of society. I inherently believe in a meritocratic form of governance that offers opportunity for all, and rewards those that are capable while also allowing those that fail their failure.  There is something simplistic and dishonest about a socialist's belief that all people deserve an equal slice of the pie; you'd have to be willfully ignorant of human nature and human ability to believe that a fair way to distribute limited resources.

I always had the sense that conservatism advocated for that sense of competition and felt a conservatism somewhere in me because of it, but conservatives don't really enjoy competition, they seem to enjoy monopolies. Recently conservatism, like the socialist response to it, pins itself on economic arguments. The conservative kowtows to a free market ideology that is idiotic in its fictional simplicity. Whether it's Bush leading the West into the worst recession in history or Harper quietly dismantling the very machinery of government that guarantees a fair chance at opportunity in business, the environment or world affairs, modern conservatism seems more bent on dismantling representative government and reducing us to a corporatocracy.  For someone who believes in freedom of opportunity based on merit this is an anathema.

I (and I fear the Liberal Parties both provincial and national) have fallen into the economic mousetrap argument where conservatives take the side of big business and minimal interference while socialists stake out the people first, economics be damned mantra. This simplification and extremification of Canadian politics has caused Canada to abandon the party that has ruled it for most of its history.

I believe that most Canadians believe in a system that doesn't force equality on everyone and spread limited resources recklessly thin. I believe that most Canadians believe in merit as a means of recognition and advancement. We the people can't be blamed for falling for this economic simplification because the one party capable of standing above it and managing Canada in a meritorious way has fallen for it itself. In a globalist mindset, economics provide statistical proof, and we're all willing to swallow it if it means our slavery is shipped off shore to sweatshops we can't see. Economics in general and globalist economics in particular are no way to run an enlightened government.

It appears that I am a Liberal in the purest sense of the word, and I've become aware of that at the worst time in the Party's history.  Liberals are not some wishy washy middle ground between free market capitalism and socialism, they are a belief unto themselves.  If the parties, both provincial and national can recognize that and stop chasing the economic simplifications of the other two natural combatants  perhaps Canada has a chance of getting its party back and becoming a country that demonstrates meritorious, representative governance once again.