As disappointed as I am, I was very proud of Bob Rae today. He was incredibly gracious, his explanation for dropping out made sense (even though I disagree), and he refused to allow the media to frame this as an internal war. I truly hope that Rae's supporters take him at his word and continue to support the party, while at the same time help to fight for fundamental change in how the party is run so that this sort of thing never, ever happens again.
Until today, I had actually been on the fence in terms of who I would have endorsed or voted for as Liberal leader. I have never liked Michael Ignatieff, although I do believe he has moderated his stance on a number of issues and is not nearly the monster I once thought he was. A prick perhaps, but not a monster.
And there is one point on which I agree with him: we need to prove to Canadians that the Coalition is serious about wanting what is best for them and for the economy by looking at the Conservative budget in January and judging it on its merits before deciding whether or not to vote it down.
My principle issue with Michael Ignatieff is my impression that he represents the sort of centrist, corporatist, fiscally conservative values espoused by Paul Martin and his ilk. He strikes me as cautious, prudent, willing to say whatever he thinks people want to hear, and unlikely to change much of anything for either the Liberal party or the country.
I can cite no specific evidence for this impression, so please feel free to explain why I am wrong about the man. In fact, I am reminded of something I once read that women tend to use logic to justify their intuition. Guilty.
Bob Rae, on the other hand, is serious about party renewal and grassroots participation, as evidenced by his fight for the rights of rank and file Liberals this week. He has bold, progressive policy ideas, and he speaks his mind without appearing condescending or confrontational. I believe he is the man who could lead the Liberal Party in the direction it most needs to go if it is going to be a viable, vibrant alternative to the Conservatives.
And he wouldn't have had a hope in hell in an election.
Therein lies the dilemma. To support a leadership candidate who can defeat Harper and bring the Liberals back to power in the short term, or the one who can make positive changes for the party in the long term?
I won't have to make that decision now. But if I did, in the end I would have gone with my heart and not my head. I would have voted for Bob Rae.