Opinion » Maxed Out

Politics in a time of polarization

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The B.C. by-elections were, however, just the political sideshow. The real news happened next door in the Republic of Alberta.

In the land of oil and cattle, the Progressive Conservative Party — as usual with these things, the word progressive is a misspelling of the more accurate regressive — has been in power, like, forever... or 1971, which is the same thing. As a reminder of just how dismal things were in 1971, John Denver had a crossover hit on both the pop and country & western charts with Take Me Home, Country Roads, a song which, if nothing else, graphically demonstrated to many people why you shouldn't shove things into your ears no matter how desperate you are to block out a song. No need to thank me; I'm bubbling over with trivia.

With no real opposition, the PCs in Alberta were almost royalty. And like royalty, they seemed to inbreed and become more dysfunctional as the decades rolled on. They were, in fact, so unconcerned with their hold on power they let guys like Ralph Klein and Ed "What Ducks" Stelmach be premier. Now, in Alberta, that would have been okay. Heck, in Alberta, they thought Ralph was an intellectual and Ed was a regular guy.

But their real crime against inhumanity was this: They actually became somewhat progressive. Having a death grip — or so they thought — on the right, the only way for them to grow and even further solidify their hold on power was to embrace the centre of the political spectrum. So they did. And it really pissed off the true believers who always were suspicious of the word progressive, preferring instead to think of themselves as social conservatives.

Social conservatives are anything but social. Social conservatives, in an earlier time when words actually meant something, were generally called fascists. Social conservatives believe all people should think and act like they think and pretend to act — at least until they get caught trying to have gay sex in airport men's rooms or something unseemly like that — unless those people are poor or racially other than Caucasian.

Social conservatives believe poor and non-Caucasian people should either be in jail or slaves. They also think that of homosexuals, most women — not their wives, of course — and liberals. They never could figure out why we, as a society, did away with debtor's prisons, the death penalty or child labour. They see nothing wrong with fouling waterways if it means they can save a few bucks by not otherwise treating waste.