Stephen Harper has never been a big tent politician. But he has always been devoted to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
In March, 1989, with the Progressive Conservative government of prime minister Brian Mulroney safely re-elected, a young right-wing maverick wrote a long memorandum about how to create a stronger, sharper conservative movement.
Stephen Harper was by then a Reformer, having abandoned the PCs, and he offered advice on how to shift the Reform Party from being a populist critic of the status quo to what he called a “modern version of the Thatcher-Reagan phenomenon.”
Twenty years later, Maggie and Ronnie's view of creation collapsed. But Harper remains a true believer. Like William Jennings Bryan -- who was convinced that Bishop Usher correctly dated creation from Sunday, October 23rd, 4004 B.C -- Harper believes that Maggie and Ronnie showed us the path to salvation.
He also believes that he needs just enough voters to agree with him:
Today, with perhaps 30 per cent (maximum) of the electorate prepared to vote Conservative, the party commands the loyalty of far fewer voters than the old Progressive Conservatives. In 1979, Joe Clark won 36 per cent of the popular vote in defeating prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals (who actually won 40 per cent themselves). Brian Mulroney won 50 per cent in his landslide victory of 1984.
But, if Clark -- who Harper passionately dislikes -- could win with 36% of the vote, Harper can, too. So he has no reason to change his strategy. After all, Maggie and Ronnie paved the path to paradise.
But, as Bryan discovered at the Scopes monkey trial, when people reject the old time religion, they can make a monkey out of you.