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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

recovering from a bad bout of partisanship.

As someone who was deeply involved in partisan politics in the past, but has since abandoned any party membership or involvement mainly due to the negativity and hyper-partisanship that saturates party politics in Canada (negativity and hyper-partisanship that I once embraced), this article by Simon Jackson stuck with me.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good article by Jackson. Couldn't agree more.

Chrystal Ocean said...

Was thinking just the other day how good it felt not to be affiliated with any party and thus free to critique - or compliment - the policies and (non)actions of any one of the parties or their loyal followers.

Anonymous said...

If there's anything we need is more partisanship in politics. People in our system vote for a party and the parties compete for support. The parties have a duty to be loyal to their parties and those who supported them.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is "hyper-partisanship" and what evidence is there for its increase? Lots of ways to potentially measure this, but neither you nor the author really offer much. In fact the "partisan baggage" mentioned in the article (constitutional wars, regional alienation) cut across partisan lines. There's the idea of rewarding "uni-partisan loyalty [whatever that means] and political attack dogs" but I'm not sure that's more rewarded now than before. If it is, it's as much a function of the intensity of media scrutiny (scrutiny of which blogs like yours, however post-partisan they claim to be are a part), as any underlying or intrinsic increase in hyper-partisanship inside parties. Same dynamic in play for "gotcha mentality".

This whole notion that somehow today's youth see so much to offer in many parties and that they're "free of the partisan baggage" is very dubious. It's not like these post-partisan political free agents are running around making careful political/policy decisions based on information, evidence and reason. The fact is political literacy is way down. Sure there are other modes of political engagement, single-issue causes and movements, and these may compete for citizens' time and "allegiance" but they too become a form of partisanship. Not a bad one, but they tend to be subject, despite efforts to avoid it and claims to the contrary, to most of the same disciplinary dynamics of formal political parties.

In the end analyses like these are really simplistic, verging on naive. This post-partisan, I like a bit of everything idea is as much about being a mushy-headed centrist, sprinkled with a nice dose of self-congratulation, than anything bigger, broader or more meaningful.

bg said...

Jackson's analysis lacks any historical perspective. This could have been written by a baby boomer during the 1960s or by a young Gen X in the '80s or '90s. In fact, scour campus newspapers of either of those times and you'll find the same dillusionment with the 'establishment' of the time and a self-congratulary assessment of the author's own generation. And if you want REAL 'hyper-partisanship' check out Canadian newspapers during the time of John A. MacDonald in the 1870s!

The only point truly new and noteworthy about Jackson's analysis was the last point about his generation's having put all of their youthful private moments and thoughts online for eternity. This is a real challenge and society will have to adjust its expectations re political leader's private lives and stray comments they may have made year ago, or no-one is going to ever be electable.

Ken Chapman said...

Thx for the post Dave - lots to ponder and some stuff even worth praying for. We have an outmoded model for "democracy" and a destrictive model for "politics."

I am keen to help make some changes and I think you are too.

Jeremy said...

I think it's great you left your party. I think one post left by an anonymous person is really without merit. To say that other organizations cannot make a difference in the world displays a lack of knowledge in how things such as holding a door for someone makes a difference in how we interact with the world.

The article is good, and the fact that your blog is popular makes you even more influential than before.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear some real reasons as to how complete withdrawl from the activities of political parties helps our democratic system.

In case anyone has forgot, its political parties that field candidates, win elections, and run governments. It's not bloggers or people who sit on Twitter all day posting banal tinyurls.

It's all well and good to get on your high horse and spout pretentiously about how you've embraced your inner "post-partisan" child. But aside from giving yourself some kind of sense of moral superiority to those who volunteer, knock on doors, and actually work on campaigns, I fail to see what it accomplishes.

If these actors in this new age of digital democracy actually cared about the direction of our political system, I think they'd unplug, join a party, and try and effect change the way it's always been done.

Sadly, I think they just like hearing themselves talk. Or type. Or whatever.

Urban Spork said...

Anonymous 9:06 has it right.

You live in a democracy Dave, and you've decided to sit on the bench rather than a player. That's fine, but don't pretend it's because you're too good to be on the field. That's just pathetic.

We get that you're indie enough to come to the conclusion teams are passe. But the internet slacker revolution isn't coming anytime soon.

Sorry.

M said...

Dave isn't sitting on any benches. He's involved in a couple groups that I know of, Better Edmonton, Community Leagues, etc. Most people aren't members of political parties, but they aren't sitting out. Political parties in Alberta aren't where the real action is.

Anonymous said...

Glad that you finally realized that none of Alberta's opposition parties are worth being a member of.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of partisan, hear about Ryan Sparrow's new job? He was reporting directly to Diane Finely's husband prior to getting the gig with Diane herself. Now WE are going to be paying him.