To paraphrase Mayor Nenshi, we must never forget how easy it is for a narcissist with a microphone to open the closet door and let the monsters out.
Donald Trump, a woefully inexperienced blowhard, defeated Hillary Clinton by legitimizing attacks against women, minorities and immigrants.
Jason Kenney, unlike Trump, isn’t openly hostile to his socially progressive competitors. Instead he allowed misogynist homophobes to hound PC leadership candidate Sandra Jansen out of the PC leadership race.
This was slick. Not only did they succeed, they justified their success by creating the narrative that Jansen’s withdrawal from the race is proof she’s not a worthy candidate for leadership. This is also known as blaming the victim.
Jansen’s withdrawal from the race elicited some bizarre reactions.
“If you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen”
Some pundits argue that Jansen didn’t have the guts to be a political leader. This is ridiculous.
She’s been an MLA since 2012 and is the most progressive PC in the Legislature. She supported legislation to allow students to request gay-straight alliances in schools even when it meant voting against her own party.
She’s a tireless champion for the LBGTQ community and women’s issues despite relentless online intimidation and bullying.
This online and face to face harassment reached fever pitch when she entered the PC leadership race and continues full tilt even after she dropped out.
Lesson: female politicians who support progressive causes will be punished for challenging white male privilege.
“Boo hoo, I get nasty emails too”
Old white guys writing for the tabloid press seem to think the snotty comments they receive after publishing a controversial column are the same as the filth flooding Jansen’s social media feed where every second word is c**t.
They forget that Jansen is an easy target. She’s a highly recognizable public figure and a single mom. These guys are practically anonymous.
Lesson: old white guys who aren’t politicians think they’re better qualified to advise female politicians on how to deal with hate mail than the female politicians who receive it, because…well, just because.
“Politics is a nasty business, get used to it”
True, politics is a nasty business but it’s even nastier if you’re female.
Consider for a moment Stephen Kahn. In the leadership debate Kahn said the PCs and Wildrose vote together 95% of the time, but it’s the 5% difference that’s significant because it reflects the PC’s socially progressive beliefs: it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or who you love.
Notwithstanding Kahn’s support for ethnic diversity and LBGTQ rights, and his tweets about a woman’s right to choose and Caitlyn Jenner being Barbara Walters’ most fascinating person of 2015 Kahn’s social media feed did not erupt in a socially regressive maelstrom.
Lesson: conservatives are kinder to progressive men than progressive women who dare to seek positions of power.
“When they go low, we go high”
As Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama recently discovered “when they go low, we go high” doesn’t solve anything because they simply go lower.
Marie Henein, the woman who defended Jian Ghomeshi on rape charges, says if we go high when they go low we’re going to get hurt or lose. Instead, we need to go wherever they go, high or low, because suffering fools quietly means they can become president, or prime minister….or premier.
Let’s go to where Jason Kenney went when he learned Jansen was leaving the PC leadership race.
Kenney said he was “sad” Jansen (and Donna Kennedy-Glans) withdrew from the race…then in the very next breath he expressed the “hope” that the requirement of a $50,000 deposit and 500 nomination signatures didn’t stop people from entering the race.
Kenney’s “hope” is an innuendo suggesting Jansen and Kennedy-Glans bailed because they didn’t have the financial resources or the support to continue. Jansen and Kennedy-Glans denied Kenney’s allegation but the insinuation stuck.
Let’s go to where Kenney went when discussing the allegation of bullying and intimidation.
He said if one of his supporters bullied or intimidated a female candidate they should apologize. This is nowhere near good enough.
Kenney is responsible for the tone of his campaign. His campaign team selects the people who volunteer on his behalf. They represent him. Whatever they do, they do it in his name.
As such Kenney must do more than say if someone somewhere did something they (not he) should apologize.
He needs to make it crystal clear that he will not tolerate any form of intimidation, harassment, bullying or abuse from his team and anyone engaged in such behavior will be tossed off the campaign. Then he’s got to do it and tell us he’s done it.
Until he meets this threshold we’ll “go as low” as Jason Kenney goes and if we have to push the monsters of misogyny, racism and homophobia back in the closet, we’ll do it.
Because our Alberta is not Jason Kenney’s Alberta and it never will be.