Reale Simple

The world is more than what they tell you. Listen up. It's not complex. It's Reale Simple.


Former USCHO writer, former writer at a Midwestern broadsheet, occassional CHN blogger.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Exemple Québécois

A revolution of sorts has taken place just north of the border. It didn't involve armed conflict, and although it took place in a province with a secessionist history, no new nations were created.

The provincial election in Québec yesterday saw the first minority government elected to the National Assembly in 129 years. Québec politics was, until yesterday, dominated by two parties - the fiscally moderate Liberal Party, and the socialist Parti Québécois. Although both parties were left-leaning, the overriding question of Québec nationalism was the true defining element that separated the two parties, with the Liberals standing for federalism and the PQ supporting soveriegnty or independence for Québec.

So where was the real choice if, as happened this year, soveriegnty wasn't the issue?

The genesis of this particular revolution started some 13 years ago. Québec conservatives, for some time, have supported the Liberal Party (not affiliated with the national Liberals) as the lesser of two evils, nationalism notwithstanding, and such was the case in the early 1990s.

Mario Dumont, the young conservative leader of the youth wing of the Liberals, had falling out with the party over the issue of soveriegnty in 1994, and helped form the Action démocratique Québec party, or the ADQ. That same year, he was elected to the National Assembly under the ADQ banner, but was the only member of the party in the body.

The next year, Dumont lent his support to the "Oui" side of the referendum on soveriegnty which was ultimately defeated by the slimmest of margins. He continued his quixotic quest in the National Assembly, remaining as a lone voice of the ADQ - with the party eventually becoming identified mostly as "Dumont's Party" - against the two parties of power for a decade between his election in 1994 and 2002, when the party won four by-elections due to growing voter dissatisfaction. In the last elections in 2003, the ADQ was essentially ganged up on by both parties, who used negative campaigning against the upstarts, and the party lost one of its five seats.

Retooling, the political gadfly became a player yesterday. With a populist stance and fiscally conservative outlook while supporting increased autonomy for Québec from the federal government, the ADQ began siphoning conservative support away from the Liberals and nationalist support away from the PQ. After the results were posted yesterday, Dumont had officially gone from 8 years as the party's only voice to the Leader of the Opposition - and very nearly became Premier.

Voters were frustrated with the Liberal government, and did not see a viable alternative in the PQ, which has been on the decline for several months in the eyes of the voters, even among separatists. The ADQ offered a new way of looking at things, and Dumont now wields considerable power - the minority Liberal government will be unable to pass legislation without his assistance.

The rise of a third party of power is something that did not happen overnight, but the drive and vision of one man held things together. That's what has been missing in this country's third-party quest, which was largely ignited by the presidential candidacy of H. Ross Perot in 1992. The resulting movement did not survive past its leader's exit, but certainly showed signs of organization while he was still involved.

If not for Dumont's continued direction, perhaps the ADQ would have also floundered and failed. He kept going after failure in 1995. He kept going after failing in 1998 to have any party members but himself elected. He kept going after a minor setback and a firestorm from the establishment in 2003. Today, he and his followers have the power to be the change they saw 13 years ago.

In the United States, there's no reason for fiscal conservatives to choose between a party which will spend money hand over fist or a party which will merely spend money less quickly. There's no reason for social moderates to choose between the Old Testament and abortions on demand with a euthanasia chaser. What's needed is another charismatic leader, a Perot with Dumont's drive, ready to work for the long haul and put in the effort to create a viable third party.

Until then, Americans will only have the choice of two parties, neither of which is likely to truly represent the will of the nation as long as they have their pet constituents, know they only face opposition from one other front, and can gain a majority with simply one more vote than the other party.


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