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Politics

Please Advise! Are Political Consequences… Back?

It’s true that some things, like a pandemic, you just can’t blame on socialists. But justice is far from served, says Dr. Steve.

Steve Burgess 14 May 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

We have recently come through a period where it seemed as if politicians and their fanatical supporters could behave horrifically with impunity.

Now I see that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney seems to be in big trouble with plummeting poll ratings and a caucus revolt, largely for his (non) management of the pandemic. Rudy Giuliani’s office was raided by the FBI who are investigating his sketchy activities in Ukraine. Donald Trump remains banned from Facebook and Twitter. A commission is being formed to investigate the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Are consequences back?

Signed,

Hopeful

Dear Hope,

Your optimism touches me deeply. It is not entirely unfounded. It does seem that Kenney’s chickens are now roosting comfortably at home. And however fraught the transition, Donald Trump was removed from office and now sulks amid the gators and gas-hoarding Hummer pilots of Florida.

But in the political realm at least, it is probably too soon to declare a new dawn of justice — not as long as consequences depend on voters who can look beyond partisanship. Dr. Steve is reminded of the old joke: What do you call a boomerang that won’t come back? Answer: A stick. As long as partisans stick with unscrupulous leaders, their actions will never boomerang to knock them out.

In politics, consequences are determined by those with the power to inflict them. Thus Georgia GOP congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene can behave like the Joker’s less-stable sister and the Republicans will act swiftly to punish... Liz Cheney.

Cheney’s crime was acknowledging that Joe Biden, current occupant of the Oval Office, sits there because he was elected by the American people. Outraged Republicans responded to this rude blast of truth like a fart in an elevator. Why, next thing you know, Cheney will deny that Elvis Presley is living a secret life as a roofing contractor in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

So the GOP voted to remove the deeply conservative Wyoming congressperson from her position as chair of the House Republican conference. Now we all face the terrible consequences: We are forced to acknowledge Cheney as a political hero.

Well, we don’t always get to pick our martyrs.

In Alberta too, the immediate consequences of the United Conservative Party revolt have boomeranged on the mutineers. UCP MLAs Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes have been booted from caucus after Loewen called for Kenney’s resignation, while other UCP members are lining up to kiss the Kenney ring. On Friday, MLA Ron Orr tweeted: “... the premier has been more than fair and transparent with caucus. I also believe he is the leader God raised up for these times even though I don’t like these times any more than you do.”

God raised Jason Kenney to the premiership? God will pay for this. Or so you’d like to think. But God is more the dine-and-dash type. We’re usually the ones stuck with the bill.

Which brings up another important point about consequences. It’s necessary to distinguish between the kind that rely on human implementation and those that result from the relentless grinding of Time’s wheel. You can be as nutty as a rabid raccoon and escape consequences from the Republican party. But as President #45 and over half a million dead Americans proved, one cannot play political tricks on the coronavirus. Nor do retreating glaciers respond to the bloviation of a Jason Kenney or a vote at the national Conservative party convention. There are realms in which consequences never relent.

The consequences of widespread vaccination should also be immune from politics. So far so good — infection rates are falling as the vaccine takes hold. But that issue is slightly trickier, as it does require co-operation from the populace, some of whom are the same people responsible for inflicting the likes of Jason Kenney, Marjorie Taylor Greene et al. upon us. It is tempting to think that the consequences of vaccine denial will fall chiefly on the deniers, but the innocent, including those who are unable to receive a vaccine for reasons of compromised health, will also suffer.

There need to be consequences for vaccine denial. There need to be consequences for a lot of things. Unfortunately, political consequences are not much more reliable in 2021 than they have ever been.

For many politicians, consequences positive or negative will depend on the voters. Are you confident, Hopeful? For his part Dr. Steve will be keeping his crypto in his wallet.  [Tyee]

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