I've been nursing a half-written takedown of the Alberta Party for a couple of months now. Every time I make progress on the second half I make a prediction about the dangerous ways the party may proceed, which I read in the paper the next morning they actually follow.
To that extent, Mark Zaugg (with or without the extent of his family, its unclear) has a tongue-in-cheek ten ways the Alberta Party "will do things differently". I don't want to rip on their mantra too much here: that itself is a good half of what I'm already busy ripping them on. Suffice it to say that when they constantly talk about "politics done differently" they either mean "exactly the same" or "differently in precisely the way that they were wisely not done already".
So here's Mark's Top Ten. He tries to rationalize them away himself [self-delusion, believe it or not, is not politics done differently! -ed], but let's be honest: there are far more rational explanations for each "no, really" gotcha moment.
10. Tweet our way to victory!So here we go:
9. Hardcore recruiting of those moderates.
8. When someone talks "environment" we'll talk "economy." When they talk "economy" we'll talk "health." When they talk "health" we'll talk "education." When they talk "education" we're going back to "environment."
7. Steal ideas from everyone. Wait - is that really different?
6. Ask the same three questions over and over again.
5. Turn down invitations to a health care debate.
4. No permanent leader, 1000 unofficial spokespeople.
3. Tell people that after we win, we'll make it harder next time to win again.
2. We'll be the first party that is both left wing and right wing at the same time!
1. I'm not really sure, but when we get there we'll post it on our webpage.
10. All right there Howard Dean. The funny thing about "tweeting ones way to victory" is that roughly 100% of Alberta Party members are already on Twitter talking about how great it is that they are Alberta Party members. Off Twitter only six people have even heard about the party. And none of the six are impressed (after all, they listen to Dave Rutherford).
9. Moderates already have a party to call their own. It's called the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, and its comprised entirely of moderates who aren't sure how the 'hardcore' and award
8. Ah, changing the subject to avoid uncomfortable topics where errors in policy are obvious even to a five year old. This is truly Politics Done Differently(TM). The rationale for this one is "they're all interconnected" which I'm sure in some hug-a-rainbow sense rings true to these people. It of course neglects to mention that with a strong economy by its very nature we get something most people would vaguely recognize as a "strong environment" (quick, would you rather live next to an intense oil extraction operation in Alberta or Kazakhstan? Don't everybody start learning Russian all at once!). As for health and education, they keep talking about it. A lot. Bear that in mind as we get lower down this list.
7. Stealing ideas from others has been practised quite adeptly in the 90s in North America. Welfare reform by President Cumstain in the U.S., and deficit reduction by the Shawinigan Strangler. Their primary ideological motivation for doing so, clinging onto power for dear life, is perhaps not quite the "politics done differently" angle they need to be moving towards.
6. Their third question, apparently, is "What are you grateful for living in Alberta?" The answer is simple: progressives, the useless footsoldiers of statism that so commonly infest inferior places (and by curious non-coincidence the Alberta Party) are not welcome here. Take away the glorious achievements caused by the right wing firmly entrenched here, and you've got a second rate swath of BC scenery with the economic prospects of northern Manitoba. It's the people who made us strong, every Manning/Aberhart/Klein voting one of them beautiful sum-bitches.
5. Don't be surprised to learn the Alberta Party's objection to "polarized debate" about healthcare vanishes into the aether the moment a polarized leaders debate on the 3 main TV channels is waved in their face like a steak in front of a killer whale that eats your arm off while claiming its Nature's Brutality Done Differently.(trademark pending).
4. No permanent leader. Oh, except they're working on that. So it's a strength. Except when its not, then its a weakness. If the Alberta Party ever got more than two seats and the inevitable floor crossing of one of their members took place, don't be surprised to hear how its proof the Alberta Party is thinning the herd in some sort of sick-and-weak-buffalo analogy that just goes to prove that they...well, you know how it ends.
3. Sound familiar? Every Reform MP talked about it from 1989 until 2000. Why don't you hear Reform MPs in Opposition still talking about it? Hint: its because of every part of that sentence which is no longer remotely true. I'm sure a [wait, stop: please put down any milk you're drinking before you read this next bit, we'd hate for the spray to ruin your futon. -ed]Alberta Party *snicker* Government would have no problem telling its legion *snicker* of dedicated fundraisers that hey, we finally became the majority party. Excuse us as we adjust our British Westminster Parliamentary Traditions and oh, by the way, Feynman & Coulter's Love Child will be the separatist Premier 45 minutes after we enact these.
2. "We'll be the first party that is both left wing and right wing at the same time!"? Really? Really? I'm getting sick of this. Scratch a progressive and you'll find a liberal -- which means you've stumbled across a liar. Who knew? More to the point, name a single goddamned policy or advocate in the Alberta Party who can even charitably be described as right-wing. Seriously, the last Alberta Party cheerleader I asked to name a right-wing policy brought up government subsidies for her youth outreach corporation in a way we wouldn't have to call it a government make-work program. No, seriously. Keynesian economic drivel is their farthest right policy. Any talk about privatizing healthcare or opening up more private schooling options? Go re-read #8 and remember what a full 50% of their talking is going to be comprised of.
1. "I'm not really sure, but when we get there we'll post it on our webpage." I really liked this bit the first time I heard it, in the Three Dead Trolls song British Saskatchalberta. And that, at the very least, was a triumphant call to Alberta Separatism, freeing us from the likes of the Quebec Liberals, the Ontario NDPers, and the assorted folk on the wrong side of the political spectrum.
You know, the one that the Alberta Party is firmly entrenched on.