Friday, May 27, 2005

Christian Activists Get Party Nominations: Woo, Scary….

So a journalist at the Globe and Mail is up to the usual kind of coverage of an issue involving religion and our public life in Canada. Here is how one of its journalists describes the fact that some well-known Christians have gained Conservative party nominations:

Some in party worry new riding nominees will reinforce
notion of 'hidden agenda'

Ah yes, the old “hidden agenda” - - the tried and true Kinsella move of using what can be described as “woo scary” approach to what should be discussed intelligently. The Globe article prefers to set up a “woo scary” without actually discussing the real reasons that these people want to get into politics. It raises the specter of “single-issue” politics in relation to them yet none of them are “single-issue” candidates, at least not the ones I have known for years; I speak of Darrel Reid (Richmond) and Cindy Silver (North Vancouver).

So if some citizens who happen to combine overt Christian commitments with a belief that Canadian politics needs an injection of certain kinds of ideas and convictions have decided to become involved in politics and have succeeded at gaining nominations in certain areas, well, good. Let’s imagine the story the other away around.

Here is the headline:

Agnostics and Atheists Capture Liberal Races Some in party worry new riding nominees will reinforce notion of “full drift ahead.”

The fact is that many of our politicians today wouldn’t know a moral proposition if they stumbled over one in the dark. That is not a good thing for politics, which, after all, should care something about how we ought (and “ought” is the moral term here) to function politically. Let’s call these people the “drift” candidates since they further what I like to think of Canada’s operative principle at the moment - -“full drift ahead.”

So, at the moment, it appears as if some more intentional people are running for politics. The views of an intentional candidate, rather than a drift candidate, tend to be, in fact, visible and sometimes well articulated as opposed to less than visible and confused.

Full drift ahead, is not really visible and articulate by definition but it is just as much an agenda of a certain type of politician as is the belief of some of these new nominees that certain things are better and certain things are worse for Canadian society. Quick starter for ten: what are Paul Martin’s moral beliefs? Can’t say? Why is that do you think? Careful and sustained planning and endless spin: do you think that is good for any country to have this sort of non-leadership and for its citizenry to keep voting it in partly out of fear caused by the “woo scarys”? No?

This debate about the discussion of moral issues in politics is about what kind of democracy we have and that is the real reason that some Canadians will fear the new nominees. The contest is between the definers and the drifters. The drifters are content to let the courts do their defining - - or small cliques within the drift that they control. Definers raise the specter of checking some of this by creating (shock, horror) discussion around it.

If the drifters want to object to those with overt beliefs from running in politics, fine, there is a remedy. Beat them at the polls. Outvote them in the House and Senate or, better yet, out argue them in principled debate. That is politics.

But to use the Kinsella “scare tactics” to attempt to influence the process based upon innuendo, well, that is just the same old game and it produces a tired and pathetic kind of politics; the sort we have seen for far too long in Canada.

Let’s keep the focus on the issues rather than the connection some of these people have had to a variety of interest groups in the past. Don’t the drifters have interest groups as well? Of course they do. Remember the National Action Committee for the Status of Women - - does anyone call that a “single issue” group? Why not? Why are these overtly Christian candidates called “single issue?” More of the woo scary…

It is high time that Canada got something like real debate happening and this might just be an election that raises real issues rather than those carefully chosen by the spin-doctors and their drifting buddies who have made our politics such a laughing stock…

CENTRBLOG: Volume 82
Iain T. Benson ©