Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Liberals have no business making attack ads

Below is the most recent ad from the Liberal Party, attacking Stephen Harper for the "Fake Lake" for the G20 Summit. I've been hearing the voiceover on the radio many times per day recently as I listen at work. After hearing it a few times, I actually began to think about it--so in a sense, the advertisement worked.


First off, I'm completely and utterly annoyed with practically everything Harper does as PM, and I cannot think of one single thing to do with the G20/G8 meetings that I support him on. Furthermore, from listening to talk radio at work the last week or so, I can't think of a single person I heard call into any of the shows to support "Fake Lake" or much of anything to do with the meetings either, and even the seemingly conservative-leaning hosts haven't had anything good to say about the Summit expenditures themselves.

With that in mind, the Liberals are not advertising Harper's boondoggle in order to raise awareness, or to get a point across about the validity of the expense(s). It is purely an effort to attack the opposition on one of its mistakes. And therein lies the problem.

For one, I think that if you polled Canadians, asking us if we think the Liberals would have spent similarly outrageous amounts of money to host these ridiculous meetings, most of us would say yes. The fact that the public probably does not believe that the Liberal Party would have done things fundamentally different indicates that there is a sense of hypocrisy in the ad. Perhaps they genuinely believe over at Liberal headquarters that they would have tightened the purse-strings--such naivety should no more be rewarded than the inherent hypocrisy of the ad.

Secondly, I don't accept the discourse of modern politics which avoids philosophy and focuses on singular events, which avoids root causes and focuses on symptoms. There is a root problem with the Harper government that is in the philosophy of its members. That money was squandered on a stupid pond is symptomatic of this philosophical underlying problem. Had money been thrown away one time because of a mistake in judgment that was consistent with a sound philosophy of governance, I believe it could and should be overlooked, to a reasonable extent. And this draws us back to the first point: the Liberals also suffer from a lack of sound philosophy which manifests itself in unique symptomatic errors. Maybe instead of a pond, they would have wasted millions on some other boondoggle. But because the two parties share the same affliction, we can be sure they will both exhibit similar symptoms, even if we can't forecast what those symptoms might have been had the other party been in charge.

Thirdly, even if the attack was not hypocritical, it's horrible discourse. If the Liberals were worth voting for, I wouldn't be writing about philosophy today because they would put out an ad that carried that message to the people themselves. They would differentiate themselves from the Conservatives at a philosophical level instead of at the symptomatic level--practically, the superficial level. They would point out the difference in their views on government and explain how such manifestations as a phony lake would be inconceivable if they were running the show.

Clearly, this is not the case. The Liberals and Conservatives share a common ideology underneath their rhetoric. I guess the moral fo the story here is that when political allies are trying to draw attention to how different they are from one another, the people should always remember to take notice of the opposite, how very similar they really are.