A Whiff of Nihilism

anti-establishmentOver the next couple of years we can expect a lot of discussion in the media with respect to what the federal Conservative party needs to do in order to get back into power.  Much like the Republican party in the US, conservative parties in Canada are losing the war of identity politics; women 18-49, new immigrants, aboriginals, Atlantic Canadians, urban professionals all have an almost instinctual aversion to voting conservative.  Most of this irrational but it’s a reality that has to be addressed.

So, it can go two ways (or a combination thereof) – the conservative parties moderate their stances and soften their edges and/or they more effectively and compassionately communicate a conservative vision and try to convince a broader swath of the public to identify as conservative.  The media will push for moderation.  That’s the easy way.  Selling conservatism in a liberal culture is much harder.

The National Post got the ball rolling on Saturday asking a group of conservatives their thoughts on how to “fix” the Conservative party’s fortunes.  One of the persons asked was Doug Ford.  Rob and Doug Ford really conflict us; their political instincts are good, but they never really convince that there’s a heck of a lot of depth of thought behind what they’re standing for.  Yet they do have popularity and it crosses demographic boundaries.

We’re real. We tell it like it is. We’re not the typical politicians. We don’t BS people. When someone’s in trouble and the sharks are circling around the leader, blood in the water, some guys run away, like Jason Kenney seemed to do at the end, and other guys, like the Ford brothers, jump in there, even though we knew it was going to be a tough election.

Now, sounding like you’re Rex and Spot Moondog  and the Ford Brothers tag team jumping into anything, well that isn’t exactly the type of communication skills we’re suggesting the conservative party needs.  But Doug goes on;

Donald Trump is borrowing from us. Rob blazed a new trail for politicians like that. People are tired in North America of the BS-ing politician. You tell it the way it is, you hold back nothing and the vast majority of the conservative-minded people are sharing the same ideas. Politicians are just too scared to say what we say.

We disagree – Donald Trump isn’t borrowing anything from Rob and Doug Ford.  But what is happening is they are singing from the same quasi-nihilist hymn sheet; the establishment is corrupt, past ways of doing things are not working, let’s go in, burn the place down, reduce it to rubble and build it up again – the right way.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to clear out all the career politicians? You want people who are there to serve the people as opposed to serving their own pocketbooks.

This type of anti-establishment fatwa has spell-binding appeal as evidenced by the popularity of the Ford brothers still and Trump’s long spell on top.  Patrick Brown was elected leader of the Ontario PC’s largely on the same anti-establishment sentiment, conservatives lashing out at their own party leaders for their failure to win the last election.

But it’s short lived and it alienates – it’s built on anger, granted anger at the (liberal) establishment, and anger burns itself out.  You can carry a whiff of nihilism, you can hint that you want to shake the foundations a little, but you can’t make that your whole raison d’etre.

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