Stephen Harper should not be allowed to go gently into that good night. At least not until we figure out how he got away with it. Crawford Killian writes that Harper's sojourn in power was one long ego trip:
Now, as the dust settles on the election, we should consider a new possibility: Harper did what he did for no reason except to show he could do it. It's been one long ego trip.
Live and learn. Absent-mindedly, we watched him ascend to power, until he actually staged a hostile takeover of the Progressive Conservatives and proceeded to a hostile takeover of Canada itself.
We sat back passively as a man who acted like one of H.G. Wells' Martians made the government his own:
A suburban kid in mid-century Canada, Stephen Harper had a mind like one of H.G. Wells' Martians, an intellect "vast and cool and unsympathetic" to his fellow Canadians. He saw us as wannabe Swedes, trying to make the country into a welfare state. But Harper knew better.
Well-funded think tanks and lobbyists supported right-wing causes. With their help Harper herded western Canadians -- almost as alienated as he himself -- toward a conveniently empty spot on the political spectrum.
Step by step, Harper moved his right-wing fringe toward power. The Liberals, PCs, and New Democrats failed to recognize what a threat he was, which must only have intensified his contempt for them -- and for the rest of us, we who preferred to watch Jean Chretien struggle with Paul Martin.
The fault for Harper's rise rests with us who refused to see him as the threat he was. People like Joe Clark warned us what would happen. But our minds were elsewhere. And, as long as Harper could keep our minds elsewhere, he succeeded. We allowed him to feed his ego:
So we are left with a quietly appalling conclusion: Stephen Harper was on one of the greatest ego trips in history. He studied the system, gamed it, and gained power over Canadians for close to a decade. It wasn't to promote some conservative ideology; conservatism was just another throwaway gadget, a convenient utensil. He used it to promote himself, not to promote conservatism. Whether the party survives his departure is of no concern to him. He was a dancer in darkness, dancing for no one but himself.
We dare not forget him. By his long success, Harper made himself the model for the next vast, cool intelligence that comes out of the Canadian suburbs. The alienated voters of his base will recognize the next Harper when they see him (or her). Distrusting Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the civil service, they will put their hopes in another solitary saviour.
We can take our government back. But Stephen Harper reminds us that we can also surrender it.