It was in a grade twelve English class in northern Ontario that a visiting student from Australia was asked, "What is the difference between the United States (where she had also visited) and Canada?"
Without pausing, she responded, "That's easy; the Canadian bigotry is under the table while the American bigotry is above the table."
It is not only Canadian bigotry that is fossilized "under the table" as it were.
Under the table, is a metaphor for how the country operates.
A supervising bishop once warned me directly, "You know John, people cannot stand too much reality!"
And of course, in other places in this space, stories of family secrets can be found.
And then there are the cultural implications of keeping the real story "under the table".
It was a NDP insider earlier this week, in speaking with her family, who said, "You know, it is really hard for a party without a newspaper, without a radio or television station to mount an effective political campaign." The inference is that her party struggles to overcome 'the establishment' still, in that both 'older parties', the Liberals and Conservatives, have already deployed their megamedia supporters in their pursuit of national power. The National Post has, as expected, endorsed the Conservatives. As a paper of the corporate world, they would do nothing less. The Star, in Toronto, has traditionally supported the Liberal Party. And while the Globe and Mail has shifted from one to the other of the older parties, it would make history if it were to endorse the NDP.
There is a 'new kid on the block' aspect to the NDP, in that the party has never been trusted sufficiently to be voted into power in Ottawa. There is a history of 'corporate welfare' lexicon from former NDP leaders, far ahead of the real events of the last few decades, during which the words of the David Lewis's and the Ed Broadbent's have only come to pass. Corporate siamesing with government, especially the government of the Republican and Conservative and Liberal parties in both the United States and Canada, has generated the greatest income disparity in the history of both countries. It has generated the worst economic depression since the 1920's. It has generated the worst environmental pollution from carbon dioxide emissions in the history of the planet. It has generated the largest gap in salary between ordinary workers and CEO's in the history of both countries. It has generated political campaigns that are funded by the cheques of the executives and middle managers of large and medium-sized corporations. And it has also relegated the NDP and similar political voices in the U.S. to the sidelines of power, in both Washington and Ottawa.
Headlong plunges into the seductive arms/promises/policies of the wealthy, by the electorates in both Canada and the United States has enabled thousands of jobs to be exported to less wealthy countries, where wages are an insult to the workers there as well as to the rest of the world's people, who may be paying attention and giving a damn. Trade agreements have been negotiated that damage both the environment, on which we all depend, and workers' rights, on which our children and grandchildren will fail to enjoy. And all of this, in order to pursue unfettered profits, based on unbridled greed and nepotism, of the kind that is sufficiently abstract so as not to attract specific legal actions in protest. If the whole world is doing it, then no court would even hear a case brought against the establishment, especially one funded by the world's rich and powerful.
A presidential candidate, such as Bernie Sanders, while exemplary in his castigation of the co-dependence of the government with the wealthy, is merely one voice. He is joined by Robert Rauch, former Secretary of Labour in the Clinton administration, Elizabeth Warren, and in Canada, Thomas Mulcair. However, the campaign rhetoric in Canada does not speak of the broad implications of the cabal of the rich in this country. Both Liberal and Conservative parties are funded by the corporate class. And, let's not shy away from the exposing of the reality that it is a class war that is being waged, (without ever using such harsh language, because, we don't speak in such terms in polite company).
Polite company, politically correct behaviour, of course, is endorsed, encouraged and modelled by the establishment, given its claim to 'high' standards and 'high expectations, and clean campaigns with clean candidates. Grabbing the high moral and linguistic ground for itself, the establishment has, for centuries, on both sides of the Atlantic, shrouded itself in a self-declared 'right to govern' that brings with it, expensive cars, humungous homes, executive offices, compensation for its own of a magnitude that would feed a whole country in the developing world. And both Liberals and Conservatives in Canada, have relied on, counted on, and benefited from the largess of the wealthy, in the natural and sycophantic and co-dependent relationship of the tree and the fungus, with each party serving at times as tree (in dollars) and as fungus, (dependent for government release of corporate regulation), or in government's case, as tree (in granting special favours to its puppeteers) and as fungus ( sucking up corporate funds for political campaigns). The role merely reverses, like a dance of Siamese twins on a single mother, the body politic, whose future, and whose rights and whose security and independence, are all battered and bounced like the political football the establishment is conditioned to consider them (within the temper and the spirit of the moment, depending on which of the monsters (corporations or government) are most in need.
Even Donald Trump has exposed this diabolic dance, for what it is, a two-headed monster of voracious appetite, nurtured and fed by the ambition for profit, in one head, and the ambition for power on the other. Nevertheless, the real source of the income of both heads is the people, through labour for the corporation, and through taxes for the governments.
Should a cry escape from the polite and submissive and repressed ordinary people, (as it has with Sanders) such a voice is immediately decried as shameful, an embarrassment and so unconventional as to be easily dismissed.
It is not merely the distribution of the national income, through tax and benefit policies, that national governments operate. It is in their capacity and willingness to comply in this charade, that covers-up the real power struggle in which the United States and Canada are currently engaged. It is a class war, although neither side wants to admit such an open conflict. Social unrest might, could and possibly will emerge from too much divisive language that tells the full truth of who is pouring money into the Conservative and Liberal coffers, (a story no national media in Canada is prepared to cover, because that would expose their own complicity in the nefarious dance.) Similarly, stories of the thousands of individual donors, who contribute small donations under $50 dollars, while adding to a smaller but still significant campaign fund, do not receive the kind of national reporting they deserve. This is manner in which the NDP has been able to wage an effective, if less opulent advertising campaign, without being able to attract the kind of reporting that would penetrate the psyches and the voting patterns of undecided voters.
One example of the impact of deconstructing national institutions like the CBC: The Harper Conservatives have effectively declared open warfare on the CBC, and in so doing, has rendered the national broadcaster (publicly funded) a dependent on the promises of whichever political party declares their support for public funding, should they win power. However, no newscast is ever opened with a declaration of support for those parties that will keep the corporate alive.
So, while the campaign has received copious time and attention by both the public and private broadcasters, their political persuasion, and that of their reporters and analysts (excepting the talking heads that represent respective political parties) remains shrouded in mystery. Compare this, for example, with national broadcasters like MSNBC, whose political persuasion, like the Fox network, is open, admitted and even championed.
In Canada, such obvious partisanship would render any broadcaster impotent, politically incorrect and thereby worthless. Yet, in the U.S. their favouring the Democrats does not seem to impede their research nor their presentation of important and revealing insights that would never receive the light of day, without the passion and the subjectivity of their staff. Of course, they have their token "opposition voice" to retain some audience among the Republicans (in the case of MSNBC) yet their support of Democrats is significant, especially in light of the billions of corporate dollars that flow to corporate, Republican candidates, and lobbyists working for their specific issues among Congress.
Let's do some 'growing up' in Canada, and relinquish our dependence on the charade of objectivity, while holding passionately and fervently to a political party, under the table in both our funding of political parties and of news media
Corporate culture dictates that all public statements made about that corporation or by corporate executives be and remain positive; such a culture is not only crippling to that culture in the long term, it also fosters a social and political model that covers its "warts" with layers of obfuscation, deceit, denial and avoidance. Political correctness, as an instrument of national culture can and will breed the kind and degree of hypocrisy for which most grade nine classes are famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view.
Can and will we graduate from the cocoon of living "under the table" on political issues, parties, funding and reporting? Or are we so embedded in our self-sabotaging traditions that we prefer permanent adolescence?