The Outsiders Have Won! (?)

Various news outlets have pointed out that the results of the first round of voting in the French presidential election show that the outsiders have won the day, and that the vote is a protest against the status quo: fairly shallow stuff, on the whole.

Marine Le Pen does represent a certain ras-le-bol (had it up to here) with the EU bureaucracy (never mind that LP sits as a Eurodeputy) and with all those brown people coming into France and tarnishing its very white, very catholic image. She comes close in many ways to the idea of making France great again. Macron certainly did not get the endorsement of Les Republicans (sarkozistas), nor of the Socialists, even though he had served in the Hollande cabinet :Hollande, of course, campaigned in 2012 on a socialist platform and, upon election, fell back in a rut that looked an awful lot like the program of his predecessor, Nicky Sarko (Sarkozy being the nec plus ultra of sarkozistas). Macron is a banker and an insider of the inner sanctum variety. So while the two “mainstream” parties failed to send a candidate to the second round run-off, the only forecast, barring some really silly happenings in the legislative elections, will be more of the same reign of finance and austerity, more of the floundering economy, and, should Le Pen win, the wrenching of an attempted exit from the EU.  Supporters of Fillon and Hamon have little to worry about, as their programs are fairly well represented somewhere in the Macron-Le Pen duality, along with those minority candidates wanting France out of the EU. Only those along the Mélanchon-Poutou axis will be left out with no good place to put their vote, other than, one might assume, barring the door to Le Pen’s racist rantings. It’s rather like trying to find a safe place for a vote in the last US presidential election, or like making a choice between Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, and it has echoes in our current BC election where people are tired of the squabbling between Liberals and New Democrats and want to vote their views with the Greens. Trouble is, there is a good chance that voting en masse mineure for the Weaver Gang is most likely to result in another Liberal government, not the real intent of those Green voters. Weaver does have a certain cachet due to his name, along with a thousand or so others, on a Nobel prize for Climate research, but his endorsement of the continued public funding for private schools and his love for IPPs has somewhat curdled the cream of his agenda. He also states that we need a less-polarized, more centrist approach to governing, but this reeks to me of more More-Of-The-Same: I don’t see that the problems that plague society in BC are likely to be addressed adequately without some serious restructuring of the economic and social pyramid. This seems to be lacking most everywhere (Christy would likely continue to steepen the pinnacle of the pyramid as she commits an increasing portion of the population to descend toward the base). I would love a plural approach to governing, but we can’t get to that with the current group infesting the Rockpile, and the surest way to fumigate the place is a crowd of Dippers, who, in their turn, need help to maintain focus. First acts should include fixing the electoral system with some form of proportional representation, public financing of campaigns, revamping the initiative and recall provisions so that they become viable, and then moving on to reform of tax legislation, retributive measures, rebuilding health and education and addressing the multiple environmental concerns that plague the province. If then, the Greens don’t like what the Dippers have on the docket, they can roll out the recall (I’m sure the Liberals will help, along with Post Media, Black Press and the entirety of the broadcast media) and look to elect a government of a different colour under the new rules (with, of course, no government advertising allowed (that should really annoy the above-mentioned press organs). Gee, I wonder what the odds are of any of this coming to fruition.

How To Shorten Debates



I didn’t watch or listen to the provincial leaders’ debate yesterday. I am pretty certain for whom I will vote and why, and, increasingly, I find this sort of exercise to be something of a waste of time where nothing of substance gets to the fore, where talking points are repeated and where the object is not to convince, but to score points. It is the very archetype of a “conversation” where the interlocutors listen, if at all, only to reply rather than distilling any useful information. In addition, there is considerable crowding of the oratory space of others in the debate, including, in this latest case, some physical contact that seems less than appropriate (this from a person who has a very warped conception of appropriate): in short, there is nothing either informative or polite about the discourse, and many people in these parts have commented on the distaste that this inspires for the political process and, by extension, the governing process.

I also eschewed the broadcast because I tend to react verbally and often using colourful language when the fanciful turns to the preposterous and this annoys my wife no end though she understands the roots of the vehemence and appreciates the recognition of falsehoods, half-truths, cherry-picked stats, deflections and non-answers. The solution to this problem? Pre-record the debate, fact check all the statements, edit our whatever doesn’t pass the sniff test, and broadcast the result. This would, in the short run,  make for less waste of time and valuable airing over the media and a clearer vision of what connection there might be with the reality faced by the electorate, and in the longer term, it might promote a desire on the part of some politicians to speak in a more straightforward and meaningful vein, especially after a couple of appearances where virtually everything she said fell on the cutting room floor (metaphorically speaking in the age of 1s and 0s.

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
— Ernest Hemingway