Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner May 12, 2022
Our attention is focused on provincial politics at the moment, and on the election of June 2.
We are taking stock of both small and large questions. At the macro level, defending democracy against threats against it as a way of governing ourselves, is becoming necessary all around the world.
After the terrible sacrifices in lives and resources which were made to enable democracy to take hold in many countries over the last 125 years, it comes as an unwelcome shock in 2022 to have to reassert support for it. At least I’ve been shocked, not being a QANON person, nor drawn to fringe social media accounts.
I tremble at what is becoming of the U.S.A.
There are many outright fascist regimes. We only have to look at Russia today (and the new documentary, “Navalny,” about its treatment of opponents). But whiffs of authoritarianism, of populism, this time coming from the right-wing on the political spectrum, are all around us. Even in Ontario. In Canada.
What else was the message of the trucker convoy? Replace a government with a mob. A few federal politicians, either naïve or crassly self-interested, flirted with the convoy leaders. We need to remember that our own MP was among them.
The values of the right-wing have never appealed to me: individualism, unending acquisition, resource depletion, making enemies of opponents, being averse to scientific knowledge, pitting one class against another.
I’m a steady advocate for a politics that includes all. I hope for a good society, one where social solidarity across classes, genders, races, ages and origins is the norm. I don’t admire monster homes, fancy cars, all the trappings of wealth. It’s not envy: I just think the pursuit of status and its trappings is self-defeating, both for the person and her culture.
Worse than those who follow, are the voices - political voices - that subtly or not so subtly, hold these goals up as desirable, even laudable. As signs of success. Maybe in a materialistic and bourgeois and soulless society, they are.
I think the good life includes peace in the family, a livable way of life for everyone, opportunities to learn, to be healthy, to contribute, create and have fun. With the mainstream religions withdrawing their influence in the public square, it will be the humanist thinkers and leaders and artists who show us the way.
Better that we enjoy social peace and have our basic needs met, so that we can pursue the arts, compassion and deep thinking. We cannot praise greed and accumulation, while at the same time living out the values of simplicity, sharing, and goodwill.
It may very well be that Earth’s survival will depend on the widespread acquisition of these virtues. There is no question that the more equal the members of a society are, the happier are the people, and the lower the crime rate.
The present government in Ontario fails this litmus test by a long shot. I don’t hear this perspective from conservative spokespersons, provincially or federally. I hear, “Develop the green areas, reduce taxes, back off climate change, give investors access to profit from long-term care homes and from housing, hold the line on wages, make our big donors richer, let private health care and education increase, and focus health policy on freedom from masks.”
Dumb us down.
Do we ever hear the phrase “the common good” from right-wing politicians?
The conservative political philosophy never has convinced me, after all these years of living and learning and voting. So I land on the left, close to the center-left. I don’t expect from any Party a set of policies - every one of which I can support. Nor do I expect pure behaviors from politicians. But there are limits.
I care about their honest ethic, their intelligence, their reachability and responsiveness, their mediation skills, and their refusal to use their position to aggrandize themselves. That’s my political philosophy. Next week: I’ll analyze how candidates measure up.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<