Those who are hailing the new "clarity" reflected in Monday's election results should read Dan Gardner's column in this morning's Ottawa Citizen. Looking back at the demise of the British Liberal Party, Gardner writes:
Something similar is quite possible here. In a matchup between the Conservatives and NDP, particularly at a time when voter turnout is appallingly low, the electoral math may show that moving to the centre to grab some of the dwindling number of Liberal voters is no longer the smartest option. The more effective strategy may be to identify, engage, and energize the party’s base.
If the government and the opposition begin to define themselves in terms of their differences, the eventual result could be stalemated government. An example, writes Gardiner, is close at hand:
If that sounds impossible, look south. A mountain of research shows that Americans are overwhelmingly clustered in the political middle. Very simply, most Americans are moderate centrists. And yet, American politics is divided and polarized like never before because, in part, the political dynamics reward division and polarization.
Americans seem to have forgotten the strategic advice of the man who led the D-Day Invasion, kept his country out of Vietnam and Suez, and built the Interstate Highway System:
People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.
As what some see as an historic realignment begins to take shape in Ottawa -- and before more people begin to write the obituary of the Liberal Party of Canada -- they should contemplate both Gardner's and Eisenhower's counsel.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.