Ideology and partisanship are okay

Josh Matlow used his space in the Toronto Star today to bang a drum he’s been banging for a while now. The beat goes like this: City Council is too ideologically divided and partisan and if we all worked together we could get more done:

Party politics are alive and well at city hall.

I don’t mean official parties — they’re banned in Ontario’s municipal governments. But aside from a small handful of moderate councillors, team sports and competing ideologies have divided council into two camps — the right and the left.

via City Hall Diary: While parties are banned, partisan politics thrive –

First, ideology shouldn’t be a dirty word. An ideology is a structured set of beliefs — everyone who isn’t a complete and total pragmatist is ideological in one way or another.

Second, partisanship is just another word for strategy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sucks, but it’s always necessary. It’s easy to point to the bad stuff — some councillors just mashing a button based on a cheat sheet handed out by the mayor, or a councillor opposing the mayor just because he’s the mayor — but how much more disorganized would council be if all members just focused on their own agendas with no regard to the bigger picture?

I think there’s a nice spirit to what Matlow says about this stuff, but I worry both that there’s too much naiveté there and that he’s pulling too much toward a kind of blasé “the truth is in the middle” philosophy that just waters everything down. In some cases councillors must fight, not compromise, for that which they believe. We should demand nothing less.

Related: Matlow liveblogged his day on the job for 680news. Worth checking out.


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