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Political Parties

Parties are no longer about commitment, in the sense of principles, loyalty and tradition. Long ago, partisans rallied to Sir John A. Macdonald’s Tories under the slogan “the Old Man, the Old Flag, the Old Policy.” No more. A party is not a collective project. It is a “mutual fund.” Commitment has become investment, and investment demands appropriate returns. If “wasted,” it should be pulled out and put “elsewhere.” The party’s name and symbols are no longer marks of allegiance, but are merely a “brand.” Brands are corporate marketing devices for products. Brand identification is intended to promote sales. If sales falter, re-branding may be required.” – Reg Whitaker writing in Policy Options, as quoted by Susan Delacourt in her book Shopping for Votes.

I’m reading Susan Delacourt’s Shopping for Votes which evaluates the idea that politics is turning into consumerism. She tracks this trend from the end of World War II to the modern day in Canada’s politics.

She quotes this piece from Reg Whitaker. It’s rather interesting as it makes me question my hatred of party politics. I have always seen political parties as a cheerleading party for governments, which seems weird. People who will defend a government to their last breath, regardless of the mistakes they may have made. Whitaker’s framing of a political party as a collective project, a project spanning generations to make the country and world a better place, now that sounds appealing.

Sadly he’s lamenting its passing.

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