In the last three days of 2017 I received no fewer than 22 electronic fundraising appeals from the NDP whose tone was so ghastly that, even if I were a potential donor, I’d throw my wallet into the ocean before I’d reward such stuff. G.K. Chesterton once said descriptions of happiness under socialism didn’t remind him of any happiness he’d actually felt. And this blizzard of begging was a perfect example of how what all our mainstream big-government parties expect will excite me leaves me bored and disgusted.
It’s partly the familiar problem that the more cleverly manipulative political rhetoric becomes, the more offputtingly manipulative it becomes. But it’s also the strangely inept quality of the manipulation, filled with bogus urgency (“2018 needs to be our year, John”) bogus optimism (“We’re ready to take things to the next level in 2018”) and bogus bonhomie (“John Do you have something planned for New Year’s Eve yet?”). No wonder many people preferred the genuinely appalling Donald Trump to such insincerely appallingly chatter.
Shortly before the Christmas flurry, on Dec. 9, the federal NDP brazenly lied that “John, our biggest advantage is supporters like you.” If so I’d hate to see their biggest disadvantage, since I haven’t given them a dime since the invention of money, and you’d think they’d know it, and know I knew it. But I think I already saw their biggest disadvantage: Their horrible rhetoric.
For instance “Your support is helping to build the most ambitious NDP campaign in Ontario history” as if they hadn’t always aimed high. Or “A better Ontario is right around the corner, but we have to fight hard and work together like never before”, as if they slacked off last time. Or “If we get this right, we’ll be able to inspire people with plans that offer hope in 2018”. You won’t.
I even object to being told all about “Jagmeet”. As we haven’t been introduced, he’s Jagmeet Singh, Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal or even Mr. Singh. (And I’m “Mr. Robson” or “Dr. Robson” to all you political pesterers). Then consider this Dec. 30 missive from Gurratan Singh: “John, Jagmeet’s birthday is coming up soon – on January 2 – and I’ve been working on getting him the perfect gift. I thought about a snowboard. Or maybe a new bike. But I know my brother – and more than anything, he wants to build a better, more just Canada”. Ugh.
Tommy Douglas once told biographer Doris French Shackleton “You won’t find me very interesting. I never do anything but work.” But I would never entrust political power to people whose idea of fun is that grim and tedious. Like Scrooge in his cold counting house until 7:00 on Christmas Eve, they’re stuffing manifestoes into envelopes on “festive” occasions and would make us too if they could.
Hence the birthday message struck them as such a successful lark that a follow-up from “Nader” chortled “John, I know our team likes to have fun. So when Gurratan said he wanted to send out an email for Jagmeet’s birthday, I was all for it. But now, I need to be serious for a minute – because we’re still $81,000 away from our crucial end-of-year fundraising goal…”
Frankly they might extort a few bucks from me by promising never to have “fun” in my presence again. Especially this “poem” the federal NDP sent Dec. 21.
“To build a big, amazing team/ And fulfill our real, important dream/ We need support this time of year/ To cross the country with love and cheer/ We need your help to get ahead/ In parliament (and gingerbread)/ Will you donate?/ It’s not too late./ To help us make Canada great!”
Whatever comic virtue doggerel can ever have depends on it rhyming and scanning. This damp squib doesn’t.
It’s meant to go da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH da-DAH, the “iambic tetrameter” of such classics as “Stop that Ball”. (Other possibilities are Dr. Seuss favourites amphibrachic tetrameter: “there ONCE was a GIRL bird named GERtrude McFUZZ” and anapestic: “Now the STAR-Belly SNEEtches had BELLies with STARS”.) But the NDP’s first couplet wouldn’t work even without “real” because “fulfill” doesn’t take a stress on the 1st syllable. The second needs “land” not country. And while the third, amazingly, is right, the fourth relies on the country being called CaNAda and for bad measure channels Donald Trump. (The former would again be easily fixed: “To help make Canada be great.”)
Of course not everyone enjoys doggerel. But only someone with no idea what enjoyment is would send out this soggy mess to lighten the mood. So here’s a heads-up for politicians. Canadians will happily work hard for a better future. But precisely because we value genuine good cheer:
The more you show what you find fun, the more your parties we will shun.
Photo Credit: Toronto Star