Monday, January 23, 2006

From the Front to the Back, Left to the Right

Hold tight!
Wait till the party’s over
Hold tight!
We’re in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house
--Talking Heads

Coyne lays it down:
Whatever his ideological objectives, Harper has as his first goal to make his party into a permanent contender for power: to end one-and-a-half party rule, forever. That is a matter not only of building a lasting electoral coalition, but given Canada's peculiar political history, of reforming its institutions. Conservative predecessors had won smashing victories, only to be overwhelmed in office by the vested interests of Liberaldom.

To avoid the same fate, Harper will have to confront the entrenched apparatus of Liberal rule, including the vast network of dependent client groups the party has cultivated over the years: big businesses, small businesses, activist groups, ethnic organizations, all on the federal dole and close to the ruling party.

He will also have to make reforms to Canada's outmoded democratic institutions, notably the appointed Senate, in which the Liberals, quelle surprise, hold a majority of the seats.

Last, he will have to set aside some of his own privileges, placing limits on the powers of patronage with which prime ministers have consolidated their rule. The Conservatives must plan for when they are again out of power and remove the instruments by which they were kept out.

Previous Conservative prime ministers aspired only to run the Liberal machine for themselves, leaving the motor running for the Liberals when they returned. Harper wants to dismantle it, piece by piece.

Piece by piece. For real.
Whadda I got to do
To wake ya up
To shake ya up,
To break the structure up?

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