Friday, June 13, 2014

Things We Learned During Ontario Election 2014: Conservative Ideologues Should Be Convulsed With Doubt And Self-Loathing

Take Andrew Coyne, for example. This guy is known among Canada's literati as "the journalist who knows math".  He's always saying "Well, the iron laws of Economics will prevent that!" and so forth. And when he says it what he means is that your figgers don't add up.  So what happened when he realized that Tim Hudak's 1,000,000 jobs plan made no sense unless you divided all his numbers by 8?  He endorsed the guy anyway!  He essentially abandoned mathematical Platonism, implicitly denied the reality of the number line, turned all Constructivist or, god help us,  into some kind of  late Wittgensteinian.  He claimed, in effect: "Whatever! Numbers do what I tell them to!

He's certainly not the only person to exhibit the same hubris.  Anyone who endorsed the "Hudak Plan" in spite of the innumeracy at its heart falls into the same boat. And it was these guys, who were willing to offer the PCPO an intellectual version of affirmative action for conservatives--They're morons, but their heart is in the right place!  PASS!--who actually cost team Tory the election.

Because you can't run on an austerity platform with bad math in it!  Because austerity brings pain, and you have to be able to demonstrate to people that if you put all the minuses together the right way you get a big plus at the end. Eat your spinach now, and you will get pie later! If you can't demonstrate this, your austerity platform starts to look like gratuitous cruelty, and you like a jerk who can't add.  Eat your spinach now!  And that's all your getting!  Spinach!  Nothing but spinach!  Yea for spinach!

And in the end that is how Tim Hudak will be remembered.: as an innumerate jerk bearing spinach. And the Conservative movement as a whole has been revealed as punishment loving folk who fetishize certain numbers (that Debt to GDP ratio sure is huge!)  but have no real idea how to manipulate them correctly according to the eternal laws of rational thought.

And that's not a good place to be.


Paul Kuster said...

Problem was, the campaign deep thinkers were never really conservatives to begin with.

Scotian said...

Reading this post of yours I kept hearing a line from Pink Floyd's The Wall in my head: "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat!?!" Your point on Coyne is bang on, but then Coyne proved how much a dishonest partisan hack he was to me back in 2005 and I have never forgotten that about him since.

Steve Bloom said...

You don't understand conservatives as they are, PK.

"Because you can't run on an austerity platform with bad math in it!"

And neither does BCL! :)

Tony Abbott e.g. recently get away with just that. Rather closer to home, while the Ryan Plan was of no help in winning the presidency in 2012, the Republicans have had much success with similar stuff at the state level (including the border states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio) and remain in control of the U.S. House with some chance of taking the Senate this fall. Ontario isn't the only place they've come a-cropper, but I think they believe it's still a formula that will succeed. The only way the next Ontario election won't see a re-packaging of the same basic theme is if Harper meets complete disaster at the next federal election.

It seems to me that the main task for Libs (and Democrats) is to avoid being perceived as proponents of a watered-down version of the same program. The Ontario Libs at least seem to have done a better job of that than have the Dems nationally and in many states.

Were I an Ontario PC, BTW, the lesson I might take from this election is that the thing to do is not talk about the nasty stuff that's planned (e.g. the public job cuts). That's what was done to varying extents in the three states I mentioned.

Steve Bloom said...

To clarify that last point, what I mean is talking about austerity and its benefits while being vague on the details.

Paul Kuster said...

Steve B- I'm by no means trying to call CINO's Libs or anything else. I tweeted out last night that the campaign team was too narrow-minded, too slow, too stupid and too arrogant to make adjustments on the fly and were totally lacking in empathy or humility. It was on full display when one of the team was interviewed, after the election was called for the Libs, at the PC headquarters oblivious to the defeat. The rest of us as conservatives don't recognize these people as fellow conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Best comment on cbc: Now that Hudak has resigned, Ontario has just lost 4 jobs (or is that 8?). This mathy truthy stuff is so hard.

CraigB said...

Coyne isn't even that great an economist.

It's 2014: a French guy writing about inequality is the biggest thing going, austerity ruined big chunks of Europe, deregulation is a punchline, and the Keynesians were proven right about almost everything. Yet Andy there is still pretending that it's the height of 80's Friedmanism.

That's not economic truth-telling. It isn't really economics at all. That's just preaching your market fundamentalism.