Protesters against the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border shouted down a group of American soldiers who were in Halifax to perform the Nova Scotia International Tattoo, a theatrical play operated by military performers.
The full video is available below.
The Halifax rally attracted dozens of partisan protesters to the city’s Grand Parade Square, where people chanted in protest against an American military marching band, and celebrated when they were prevented from taking a group photo.
Ignoring the complete nearsightedness for targeting a marching band that simply represents the American military, albeit to protest U.S. immigration policies.
Viewing the video, I can begin to comprehend why the Canadian relationship with the United States is becoming exceedingly poor.
Last year for instance, the Canadian legal system immorally compensated someone who had murdered an American soldier. Omar Khadr was awarded $10.5 million dollars by the Canadian government, at the complete objection of our neighbors to the south.
Now, I fully understand that for many Canadians, Khadr is not a terrorist, and the actions of Trump Administration are myopic.
Regardless, our response and methods for dealing with our disunity are by no means virtuous.
Rather, it would seem as if our political inclinations are also becoming more partisan.
Recently for example, I read an extremely interesting article by Andrew Potter in which he argues that “As a public space in which good faith civil democratic debate can take place, I think the United States is pretty much finished.”
Subsequently, he continues in the piece to provide a pragmatic guide to partisanship, to better understand the inside workings of the opposing sides and outlines the rapidly expanding divide that has become the norm across all political spectra.
In this piece, I will present two of Potter’s main arguments. The first is called, ‘what if my opponent did that’ and the second is, ‘the principle of charity’.
The first phrase discussed by Potter is profound, as it argues for the most part that we are not willing to truly see political actions with impartiality. Instead, we consciously or subconsciously judge each situation based on the person involved, rather than on merits alone.
Potter begins to ponder as an example, of what would happen if Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, acted in a way that was similar to Trudeau’s Liberals? He entices that despite coming to power with good intentions, the Liberal government is no better than the Conservative one it replaced, yet ultimately many Canadian voters saw those same political maneuvers through a different lens.
“Of course, they don’t see it that way. No one ever does, because people tend to interpret their own behaviour in light of what they see as their true motives. And because they see their motives as fundamentally good, the Liberals give themselves a pass for engaging in the behaviours for which they crucified Stephen Harper.”
Utilizing Potter’s first principle in a practical setting is fairly simple. For instance, imagine if our American counterparts began to protest Canadian troops in a similar fashion to the recent events in Nova Scotia.
Evidently, most Canadians would be furious…
While Potter’s first principle outlines the basic structures of partisanship, the implications can be better realized through discussing his second doctrine, i.e. the principle of charity.
According to the article, political ends are synonymous to all Canadian political parties, namely that we all want to make the world a better place, and this includes even our most hated opponents.
Hence, whether Left, Right, or “Centrist”, we should always begin with the assumption that our opponents are rational AND well-intentioned. While exceedingly difficult, we must begin our premises with the inclination that the beliefs and desires of our political opponents are in some way plausible.
However, Potter is no ignoramus, and further states that,
“That doesn’t mean there are no irrational or deluded people, nor does it mean that no one ever acts in bad faith. But as Joe Heath puts it in Enlightenment 2.0, ‘If our understanding of the world depends crucially upon the claim that everyone else is an idiot, evil, on the take, or part of the conspiracy, then the problem almost certainly lies with our understanding and not with the world.’”
It seems today as if we are willing to separate almost any argument into a setting of good versus evil. With ourselves evidently being the good, and our opponents the evil.
Another context for this would be the humane versus the inhumane.
Or as we have recently seen from third-party groups in Alberta, Life Versus Death.
This rigid worldview, rather than progressing political discourse, hampers its growth. And real action can only flow from discourse in our democracy.
In fact, such rigid partisanship clouds our capacity to have an open dialogue, and rapidly leads us to pointless parades such as those during the marching band protests, where our relationships were hurt and no good or help was achieved.
Perhaps it’s time we each took a step back from the partisan ledge and incline towards a constructive dialogue, lest our society devolves into two tribes of apes howling at each other from across a deep valley.