The Wrecking Cousins
While Parliament is off this week, I'm away too, catching up on some overdue political reading. I've just finished Tom Frank's The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule. If you haven't read it, do -- the parallels between the U.S. Conservative movement and some of the things we're seeing in Canada are unmistakeable.
Over the next several days, I'll post some excerpts from the book and links to the parallels/facsimiles here. Some are so obvious not to need links, but I'll throw them in anyway. I'll start with a couple of Wrecking Crew snippets that leap right out to current topics in today's Canadian headlines.
This one, for instance, in which Frank talks about U.S. conservatives' distrust of the civil service, identified as a sinister "permanent government." (Emphasis mine.)
Career employees began to run up against politics in all sorts of unexpected places, with expert testimony by government officials altered by political staff, proposed regulations dismissed and senior scientists overruled by college dropouts who happened to be loyal conservatives.
Again, kind of obvious. Political staff altering expert testimony, senior scientists overruled. Never in Canada, eh? And of course, we all remember Stephen Harper's words in the late days of the 2006 election campaign and subsequently (see last quote in that link) in which he voiced his distrust of a civil service that he seemed to see as an adversary.
Or how about this one?
The New Right's story began at the retail level. The operation is familiar by now to just about everyone who owns a mailbox: letters, mailed by the millions, written in tones of the highest outrage, soliciting donations for conservative causes. .... "The fund-raising letters of the New Right groups depict a world gone haywire, with liberal villains poised to destroy the American Way of Life," wrote the conservative author Alan Crawford in 1980. The emphasis was on shrillness, on prose that would 'make [people] angry' and 'stir up hostilities.' .... wingers believed they had found a way to get around the traditional mass media, which they despised as much then as they do now, and to reach out directly to like-minded people suffering liberalism in silent frustration across the land.
If we need a Canadian example for this, we need only take a glance at today's National Newswatch, where we see this story, headlined: Tories demand money for impending election campaign in 'confidential' memo.
As I mentioned, The Wrecking Crew is littered with parallels and in the days to come, I'll list some more. Those two enough should prompt some reflection.