Friday, April 1, 2011

Political Authenticity

I sit here this morning trying to make sense of Mustafa Rizvi. Unless you’re a resident of Mississauga the name may not be familiar to you. Mr. Rizvi, until quite recently, was an NDP candidate for Parliament from the riding of Mississauga-Erindale. Apparently he woke up one morning and decided he was not a New Democrat, but his true calling was to support the Conservatives.

I read a couple news reports about him, about his third-place finish in the 2008 elections, about his upcoming marriage. Did the impending loss of bachelorhood cause a sudden shift in his political allegiance? I tried to imagine Tommy Douglas waking up one morning and realising he was not really a member of the CCF and he certainly couldn’t help form this new political entity, the New Democratic Party. What could have caused the Premier of Mouseland to suddenly see himself in the role of Black Cat?

Try as I might, I just couldn’t see it happening. Would Tommy Douglas, even on his deathbed, have repudiated the causes for which he so eloquently fought? The Black Cats and the White Cats, as Tommy said, are still cats no matter how you look at them. Cats like to eat mice. Conservatives use labour as fuel for the realignment of power into the hands of the wealthy. That is, human lives are seen as expendible—useful only to the extent that they help enrich the lives of the power elite.

Conservatives understand human beings as having been distributed into two camps: Those who manipulate others to serve their whims, and the stupid, sniveling hordes whose only justification for existence is to serve as expendable slave labour to the manipulators, the creative capitalists—or to use their Randian term—the Atlases of the world. Humanity is not something to which one is born, it is rather something one must earn in the free market. And if fortune does not favour you, this can only mean you don’t possess the requisite backbone or skill or tenacity to call yourself a human being. Into the hopeless pool of the nameless masses with you, then, to serve the Masters of the Universe.

Other than upholding the historical definition of marriage, I cannot think of a single conservative cause that has advanced the cause of human dignity. In the Greatest Canadian competition of 2004 I supported Pierre Trudeau. I felt he had done more than any other Canadian to mould Canada into its present form. In retrospect, perhaps I ought to have cast my vote for Tommy Douglas. Not because Tommy was the ultimate architect of what Canada is, but because he is the best representative of what humanity ought to become.

I cannot say I understand Mr. Rizvi. But I do understand Mr. Douglas. I understand there are dispositions of the soul that admit of no philosophical alternative. My religious tradition tells me that human beings are formed into the very Image of God. In all of creation there is nothing more sacred than human life. Tommy Douglas believed this. What do you believe, Mr. Rizvi?

April 1, 2011

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