Perhaps it is too early to bathe in schadenfreude, but there are plenty of folks eagerly anticipating the defeat of Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois on Monday. Why? For many reasons but mostly because people want to see Marois and the PQ punished for their embracing of xenophobia. The symbolic politics has gone awry for a variety of reasons.
Sure, the Charter of Xenophobes seemed swell when it banned government workers from wearing religious symbols--remember it had heaps of support for quite a while. I guess the specifics made it just a bit less popular: that it also might cover private companies contracting with the government (H/T to Jacob Levy for pointing this out to me); and when the obvious was admitted--that people would lose their jobs--folks got turned off.
Marois's effort to say that the government would help the newly unemployed was shrugged off as the sham that it was--since damn near all health care is public, there would be no private jobs for those doctors, nurses and technicians losing their jobs. Where would the professors go? No private universities in Quebec.
Of course, one of the biggest problems with using hate and fear symbolically to divide the opposition is that you tend to pick up allies along the way that really do hate and really do fear. And then they speak up and make the party and the platform appear even more awful. So, we get testimony about Muslims praying on their knees, concerns about McGill rich men dominating the hours of a private pool (nonsense on stilts), candidates promoting conspiracy theory about kosher and halal taxes on their websites. This is what happens when a party creates an environment where fear and hate are tolerated and even embraced. As Marois did on multiple occasions, including holding up Ms. Betrand, the woman who somehow that that a bill on public servants would affect a condo pool.
Yes, heaps of schadenfreude indeed. Marois is going to be penalized heavily as the PQ does not treat its leaders well even when the going is good. When they fail, oh my. By embracing hate and fear, Marois will earn not just a defeat for the PQ but the ire of her defeated party. She will not be the one to lead to the PQ to the promised land of sovereignty (more on that later). Instead, she gets to spend the rest of her political life in the desert, without any of the respect that previous PQ losing politicians (Parizeau) somehow continue to receive.