One of the last things Premier Stelmach said in his recent announcement about stepping down as PC leader was that the next provincial election would see US wedge-style politics being used to attack personalities. He was, of course, referring to the Wildrose party; a party whom he defined as an extreme right party that would disguise itself as a moderate party by focusing on personality.
Whether the Wildrose is extreme right or just right of centre is a matter for its members and the province’s voters to determine, but they are a snarky bunch lately, and I say that as someone who holds a party membership.
Last Thursday, in response to Ted Morton’s claim that the Wildrose’s weakest link was that they have no environmental policy, the party offered a response the likes of which one would expect from an American cable news personality like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh not a party looking to lead this province into the future.
Morton’s statement was false and could have been easily refuted and cleared up by the Wildrose simply issuing a statement of what that policy was and when it was created.
Instead, the party chose to issue a press release with snarky commentary that referred to Morton as “wannabe captain of the PC Mothership” in it’s opening sentence and went on to further depths of snark:
“We’re not sure if the Internet connection aboard the Tory spacecraft is faulty or if the suddenly softer Ted isn’t quite up to speed on the technology, but the Wildrose environmental policy has been available for all to see since September when it was released in Fort McMurray.”
While that is a far cry from the American-style attack ads Stelmach warned us about, it is spot on the level of political discourse that lies at the heart of those types of ads and strategy. It is snark (an amalgam of the words snide and remark) and it is snark that is ruining our public and private conversations, not to mention our political discourse.
How can we ever hope to discuss the issues that affect the people of this province if the discussion of issues is overtaken by the ramblings of people who use pejoratives and rhetoric instead of respect and intellectual persuasion to get their points and counterpoints across to the voter?
It is that snarky behaviour, that incessant carping on every perceived weakness or faux pas the Tories make that has prompted me to take a step to the left and a step to the centre to look at the Alberta Party, an up-and-coming movement that thus far has not offered up any of the raspberry blowing, school yard snark one would find in a high school hallway or Internet newspaper’s comments section.
School yard snark can be forgiven due to the snark hurler’s age; Internet snark due to the anonymity of those offering their pithy and often uninformed commentary. What then is the Wildrose’s excuse?
No matter what strengths the party has as a governing option, they’ve lost some credibility with this voter who has little patience left for snark in the political arena.