Yet another Conservative falls from grace, this time a riding association director, Susan MacDonell, formerly a Toronto cop. (Yeah, I know.) Anyway, they fired her.
My question is, Why?
Perhaps we should juxtapose this story with one out of Hungary, wherein an over-enthusiastic Jobbik supporter, working as a cameraperson for a far-right television station, deliberately tripped a man with a child in his arms, and kicked a couple more children for good measure. They were refugees. She has since been fired as well.
Susan, meet Petra. Both of you must be reeling by now.
Has the world gone mad? All that you said or did was, after all, already engraved within the very soul of your constituencies (and I do hesitate to use the plural here). For a few moments under the spotlight, you were their voice, their loyal, unflinching soldiers.
And now you are cast out.
The double-sided discourse of politics is a tricksy skill to learn. There is the constellation of values that a party carries at its core, in its raw, untreated state, and there is what must be presented to those the party is trying to rescue from the wilderness, not to mention those within its bosom but at some distance from its heart. To bridge that gap, coded messages are unavoidable.
So-called dogwhistles are decryptions, aimed at those party faithful with secret decoder rings. But at a certain level -- a low one, to be sure -- code is no longer required. Read the comment threads at the Toronto Sun -- the rag that urged Canada to "lock and load" against a shipload of Tamil men, women and children. Or go watch Rebel TV, the current online equivalent of Völkischer Beobachter.
That's the foetid pool from which these two women were drawn. The problem is, they were out of place. One was a supposedly responsible riding official. The other was, again supposedly, a journalist. Pretense is essential in their respective roles. But that pretense is not a series of lies, exactly. Rather it's Jean Baudrillard's seduction, which "does not undermine, subvert, or transform existing social relations or institutions, but is a soft alternative, a play with appearances." I might add that the stripping away of deliberately constructed ambiguities during the course of a seduction, a key aspect of the consensual game, allows for withdrawal without embarrassment at any time.
Politically, such ambiguities must be maintained pending a successful rise to power and, even then, until that power has been fully consolidated. There must always exist the possibility of a tactical retreat, an interruption of the dalliance. Those who insist on talking about the (not-so-)-hidden agenda of this party or that are refusing to play the game in which we are already more or less implicated.
Such crassness is rarely rewarded. The demure party recoils in horror, protesting to potential and actual suitors that the accuser has vilified him or her, that no such thing was intended, and takes refuge in a cloud of ambiguities. Straight talk, cutting to the chase, is seen as unmannerly at best, deluded at worst, whether uttered by the active players or by watching bystanders.
The sin of Susan and Petra? Rushing to consummation without preliminaries. As Baudrillard says, "Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex and it commands the higher price." And that's no less true in politics than in more intimate courtships.
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