So Warren Kinsella thinks that conservatives are making a stronger appeal to emotion, and thus their growing success in Canada, at least federally.
Then of course you get the analysis following the Wildrose Party losing in Alberta, and the consensus at the moment is that Albertans, especially younger and urban Albertans, shied away from Wildrose at the last minute because of their social conservative stand on a number of issues. This analysis would fit with the left’s world view of things – that younger, urban voters may recognize the fiscally conservative viewpoint in politics, but because they’re rooted in modern times, they rationally ran from Wildrose at the last minute and their refusal to back away from a few social conservative stances.
Both are an offshoot of the typical progressive conceit that we’ve discussed before (here, and here); that conservatives are irrational, stupid and deniers of expertise and science. So, any electoral success has to be attributed to conservatives leveraging anger and emotion over “rational” and learned thoughts that the progressive left might have.
They’re all wrong. It’s the progressive side that relies on emotive arguments, nostalgia and attempts to appeal to people’s romantic notions of constructing the perfect society.
And incidentally, we would also flatly deny that conservatism is on the upswing or triumphing in any respect in the competition for ideas. As can be seen in the fallout from Alberta, social conservatism is regularly shat on as being neanderthal and regressive, and the vast majority of the population want to consider the debates on abortion, gay marriage, multi-culturalism and criminal punishment as passe and beneath dignifying.
But what is catching up to the world is reality – you cannot borrow from future generations indefinitely, especially when those successive generations are becoming smaller and smaller. And thus, fiscal conservatism is on the rise, with more and more people understanding that we can’t pay for everything for everyone.
But if to be a fiscal conservative means ultimately advocating for affordable, smaller government, with strict limitations on its powers and mandates, then it means supporting also the necessary withdrawal of the nanny state from many facets of our lives because that is really the only path to a government of a size that we can pay for.
However, when you withdraw the state from people’s lives most still need support systems to deal with the various struggles of life and these have traditionally been family and churches and social communities. Hence why fiscal and social conservatism have to be flip sides of the same coin; you cannot withdraw government from people’s lives without at the same time supporting those traditional institutions that can fill the void.
Without family, church and community the void will be filled with an amoral anarchy. What is happening on the ground floor of countries like Russia and others where the government withdrew and left a vacuum filled by mobsters and vodka-soaked youth gangs roaming the streets? Or take any formerly socialist or communist government that had supplanted religion in that part of the world with big government, and now has withdrawn – it’s chaos.
And thus, fiscal and social conservatism are two sides of the same coin; it’s cool and sexy to say you are fiscally conservative but socially liberal, however it doesn’t wash in the end – You cannot have a government advocating for every kind of social advancement and attempting to engineer people’s lives without a bureaucracy to support those kinds of endeavor. And bureaucracies cost money.
So, social conservatives should take heart. The first part of the wedge, recognizing that we are in a fiscal mess is starting to be driven in. Next will come the realization that without government we will need all those traditional institutions and values that we’ve been marginalizing for the past fifty years.