Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pull thread to unravel

The Sixth Estate has a very cogent theory on how the voter suppression effort during the last federal election may have unfolded. It's important to read the whole piece but for those of you doing this on the short ...
As April 2011 careened to a close, there were a few pollsters willing to stick their neck out and predict a Conservative majority, but the general consensus was that they would not quite achieve that mark. Moreover it was generally expected, particularly among Conservative ranks, that the NDP and the Liberals would not put up with another Harper minority. Instead they would join forces, and, absurd as it might have sounded even two months  before, the late Jack Layton would be prime minister. Harper’s career would be over. So would those of the coterie of pseudo-intelligent political strategists with which he’s surrounded himself.

So, at some point in that last worrying week of April, the decision was made to order several different units to do what they could to suppress the vote, using tips and tricks they’d picked up from campaign training sessions with American Republicans. We know these sessions happened, we know that these sort of dirty tricks are quite routine fare (for both parties) south of the border, and, in fact, in some states deliberately misdirecting people to bogus polling stations isn’t even against the law.

I’m not sure who these units were. Maybe they were inside the Target Seat Management Unit. Maybe they were in the Conservative Resource Group. Maybe they were just whatever little network of local campaign staffers were personal friends of whichever senior strategist decided to activate Plan B. Whatever it was, they weren’t entirely prepared for it. They had a general idea what to do, but they hadn’t planned it out in advance — again, because if they had, they would have done a better job of it.
From the perspective of the individuals activating the covert op, there would have been no real downside. If they won a majority, they would be able to stonewall Elections Canada from now to judgement day, or at least until the next election. (This was actually happening, until Postmedia broke the story wide open in February and suddenly Elections Canada decided it should be seriously investigating the case after all.) If they lost and the NDP seized power, what would it matter? Their careers would already be over anyways, and the NDP would be too busy enjoying their newfound power to look too carefully into a vote fraud scheme that hadn’t even worked anyways.
That's about the way I would break it out, although I would add a few other features.

There is a reason we do not allow the young lieutenant or brand-new sergeant to plan and execute delicate military operations, especially those which require enduring cover. They always leave stuff out. That's not because they're stupid; it's because they haven't had the sense of invincibility beaten out of them yet. It's one thing to be able to produce a covert action plan; it's quite another to be able to plan it in enough detail to have it executed without leaving evidence behind.

One of the common threads of those whose names keep appearing, (and that is not to say that they are guilty), around the voter suppression issue, is their relative young age. Behaviours involving high-risk, without consideration of possible consequences, tends to fall into the arena of young males. That fits the analysis provided by The Sixth Estate. A quick look at the two outcomes of a covert operation would not reveal the pitfalls to be avoided. The whole thing looks like a very poorly planned operation executed with arrogant invincibility. Not the work of a seasoned campaigner.

There is another dangling thread which may have panicked the Harper campaign. The Christian conservatives, a considerable force in the minority Harper-base, were not happy. They wanted their people elected to a majority Conservative caucus so as to put the squeeze on Harper himself. Some wanted to see themselves in enough control to replace Harper. A minority victory would give them as much ammunition as they needed to turf Harper into the gutter.

Even if a minority showing did not result in an NDP led coalition government, (which I believe would have happened), the Harper faction of the Conservative party would have been toast. In a party with no clear field of succession, the loose fusion of western separatists, Christian conservatives, racists and right-wing authoritarians would have likely collapsed in an all-out pig-fight for the leadership.That aside, again, the only way the Harper loyalists could possibly keep their jobs was to squeeze out a majority to fend off the threats from within their own party.

That brings up something of a post-script. Simon puts the bristles onto Speaker Andrew Scheer and his involvement in the Guelph riding. Far from being non-partisan, Scheer is a member of the faction which would have exiled Harper to the wilderness in another minority government. In a majority however, although wholly unsuited to the position, he becomes the HoC head referee. As much as I believe there is some quid pro quo involved, I also see Harper's Dionysius to Scheer's Damocles.

The literalist, authoritarian, Christian right cannot be discounted as possible players in the whole affair. But that's for another time.


Boris said...

Interesting...then again I keep thinking that they're also a party with a certain youthful smugness and have shown themselves many times over the past few years to push the envelope when it comes political practice. I think that's their only strategy, to go deeper and darker, to places where no politics in Canada has gone before.

I don't think it's beyond consideration that such a plan was formulated far in advance as the nuclear option. They got away with two prorogues and things like Saanich-Gulf Islands, which makes me think that they'd think they'd probably get away with it.

If this does boil down at least in part to a survival game for SH - and I think this is a real possibility given that politics is ALL that man is; there's no back-up law career there - then why wouldn't we think he's the senior strategist, perhaps buoyed with confidence from previous fuckery?

Beijing York said...

He could always become a hockey historian, Boris ;-))

The Front Porch Strategy Group lines up with the Christian right angle, that's for certain. How many of the new MPs and swing riding MPs are religious zealots?

The names that keep swirling around by association seem to have ties/experience with: 1)Hudak's Ontario Conservative Party; 2) Clark's BC Liberal Party; and 3) Alberta's Wildrose Party as well as Morton's failed campaign.

The triple axis of concerned US onlookers: oil sands exploitation (Koch Bros); gun freedom and lax vigil ante controls (NRA); and reproductive rights curtailment (Front Porch Strategies, Focus on Family).

fern hill said...

Great work, Dave, keep it up.

Might want to cross-reference ridings with dirty tricks/vote fraud with this handy-dandy list of Fetus Lobby members compiled by Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada.

Beijing York said...

Lot of the rookies haven't done much of anything yet but the fetus fetishists elected in suspect ridings include:

Tom Lukiwski (Sask)
Wladyslaw Lizo (Ont)
Bryan Hayes (Ont)
Susan Truppe (Ont)

Purple library guy said...

Mind you, there is another kind of operator that makes that kind of mistake. That's the kind that's had successes before doing relatively easy things, against only minor opposition. There's a kind of person that tries things, finds that they get away with it, so they try something a little bigger. They keep on pushing it a bit more, a bit more, and they get more confident and more arrogant with every success. After a while they think they're invincible. That's when they get sloppy, or they push things a step too far, or both.
The Cons may have a mix of both types--the young and brash, and the older and "Yeah, we bad, we cheated and got away with it, we smeared and got away with it, we can suppress anyone who causes trouble, we're f*in gods!"

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