Tag Archives: CPC

The Big Tent Party

A good read in the National Post today.

However, we have a slight disagreement.

Traditional conservatism, if you read any of the classic writers (Hume, Burke et. al.) is about balance, stability and rational government. Conservatives should therefore be a “big tent” party; the libertarian wing pushes free markets to provide natural balance, social conservatives want more respect for traditional values and institutions to provide social stability, and Tories make the case for a government that acts cautiously, prudently and without the “feel good” policy motives of the left.

Mr. Kline obviously leans to the libertarian side, which is fine, but dismissing social conservatives and Red Tories from the equation is a mistake and will not revive the party’s fortunes long term.

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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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The Natural Governing Party

So, now that the country has gone and elected its first hipster Prime Minister, it’s worth pointing out that we were sort of prescient before… there’s no base for Conservative parties in Canada.  As Mark Steyn has said and written, Western culture is predominantly liberal, and increasingly so as we move along, so where does a Conservative party fit?

It doesn’t.

Conservative parties will never again be a natural governing party in the West.  But they will get back into power someday, because eventually hopey-changey-feely good stuff gets you nowhere except into pile of shit, and conservatives get the call to come shovel the mess.  And there are certainly lessons to be learned from the Harper years in power, primary among them being this; incremental policy movement to the right doesn’t work.  Harper adopted the strategy because he wanted to alleviate fears that his government held a “secret agenda” and he recognized correctly that Canadians are a timid lot who don’t like a lot of change even if it’s for the better.  And so he lost his chance to really make a truly small ‘c’ conservative stamp on the country and yet was still reviled as the next worst thing to Hitler/Stalin/Kim Jong Un et al despite basically governing as a blue Liberal for most of his tenure.

No, alas Conservatives don’t get to stay in power.  So, in the future, when the public decides it needs help, get in, fix messes, turn over tables, smash people in the faces, press the reset button and then accept that your job is done and the people will go back to the good time guys.  Just… maybe not right away.  They did give Mike Harris a second majority.

The first truth of Buddhism is “Life is difficult”.  The irony is once you accept that truth, life actually feels easier.  Perhaps the first truth of Conservatism is “Conservative governments are temporary.”  Once that’s accepted, what you do as a conservative once you get into power becomes a lot clearer and simpler.

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