Know your history - Macleans.ca

Know your history

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I’m only a chapter into it, but I’m going to go ahead and provisionally recommend Dynasties and Interludes, the new study of Canadian electoral history. If nothing else, by page 33 you will have come across at least one paragraph that contains more or less all the political analysis you will ever need.

To wit.

Canadian political parties have traditionally been brokerage parties. Lacking stable support in the electorate, and avoiding clear ideological differentiation from their competitors, political parties approach each election anew, hoping to put together a coalition of support across the entire electorate. Brokerage parties do not seek to appeal in election campaigns on the basis of long-standing principles, or on a commitment to fundamental projects to restructure the economy or society, even if they have these. They are not bound by positions or actions they have taken in the past. Electoral platforms are typically put together from a short-term point of view, offering a mixture of assurances of general competence to deal with the major problems of the day, commitments to prosperity and social security, specific promises designed for instant appeal, and an assertion that only they can provide creative leadership.

There are a half dozen such paragraphs in the first chapter. If the editors need a blurb for future editions, I’m willing to offer that “Dynasties and Interludes is like slipping into a warm bath of sober reflection, surrounded by candles scented with the soothing aroma of common sense.”