Saturday, March 12, 2016

Out Of Touch


                                                         http://eivtv.com/

Throughout North America, conservatives are up the creek. Andrew Coyne writes:

Across North America, the right is in disarray. It isn’t only at the ballot box that conservatives are in retreat. It is in the broader contest of ideas. On issue after issue, the left has been running the table, whether overturning orthodoxies long considered invincible, like the taboo on deficits, or opening new territory for the expanding state, from pensions to pharmacare to a guaranteed annual income.

Perhaps the most startling advances have come in the social issues. From same-sex marriage to legalized marijuana to assisted suicide, public opinion and legislation seem in a headlong race to see which can undo centuries of custom and precedent the fastest, while across the multiplying fronts in the wars of identity — racial, sexual and the rest — one famous victory follows another.

In the United States, the Republicans are on the verge of blowing themselves up:

Whether the intellectual incoherence on display in the Republican presidential race is a cause or consequence of this is hard to say. The extremity of the solutions offered by the “conservative” candidates is not a sign of the health of the movement, but of its increasing disconnect with reality. None has a fiscal plan that is remotely credible. Each would, if implemented, bankrupt the federal government in short order.

The special obnoxiousness of Trumpism, while in some sense a reaction to the excesses of identity politics, is in fact its own form of it. Trump is not appealing, as his answer to “political correctness,” to a universalistic liberalism that transcends differences of race and sex: he is simply championing an identity politics for white males.

And before the advent of Mr. Trump, the Harperite version of conservatism proved to be utterly rudderless:

The weakness of Canadian conservatism in recent years is in many ways the opposite. If the Republicans who shut down the government rather than accept a budget deal that included any increase in revenues — not just tax increases, but any additional revenues — were in the grip of an unreasoning fanaticism, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper seemed to have no ideological moorings whatever.

Not only was it impossible to predict what position they would take on any given issue, but they seemed to revel in their incoherence, boasting of their commitment to the most regulatory-heavy approaches to economic questions — cross-border pricing, anyone? — even as they were claiming to be the party of free markets.

Having just returned from the Manning Conference, Coyne sees hope in the likes of Michael Chong, Maxime Bernier and Tony Clement. Clement's bright idea is to cancel funding for the CBC -- a remarkably boneheaded suggestion. Bernier still carries the whiff of incompetence -- having left his ministerial briefing notes at his biker girlfriend's apartment. We'll see what kind of a chance Mr. Chong -- always on the outside looking in -- has at his party's leadership.

 These days, conservatives  are incredibly out of touch.


14 comments:

Lorne said...

it is difficult to understand how Coyne sees any hope in the likes of Clement, Owen. He has always struck me as being the Conservatives' village idiot, although I suppose he might face some competition for that title from Bernier. That the right thinks he has leadership potential is perhaps the greatest confirmation one can find of their paucity of ideas and vision.

Kirby Evans said...

Good post. This article by Coyne bodes very badly for Conservatives. It means that even their own champions understand just how bad things are for them and how the political winds are changing in a way that will batter the conservative movement. The sad part is that history suggests that conservatives don't go down easy and as events in Chicago last night suggested, the most dangerous racists and rightwing wackos are coming out of their closets. If Trump turns out to be the nominee, serious conflagrations are in the making and a lot of violence, pain, and hardship will result. The more space that a leader like Trump opens up for legitimizing racism and violence, the more dangerous the situation becomes. We all knew the Republicans were spiralling downward but as cynical as I am I wouldn't have predicted an actual nominee for president openly advocating war crimes and racial violence. We have truly seen the beginning of a dark moment in history, something that (if we survive) our children will be telling their grandchildren about. It is the sixth anniversary of my father's death in a couple of days, I miss him more than I can say, but I am sort of glad he is not here to see this, he would have lost all hope in our future.

Owen Gray said...

It was particularly depressing to watch Trump ask his supporters for a personal salute a few days ago, Kirby. Il Duce lives.

Owen Gray said...

These days it's increasingly clear, Lorne, that "the best and the brightest" are not to be found in Conservative ranks.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The right wing in the US and Canada Owen has been dominated by a belief system of Neoliberalism and Evangelical fundamentalist Christianity. This is the source of their political policies, domestically and internationally. They are completely devoid of any serious ideas. Their rhetoric is just a constantly evolving anti-intellectual dogma.The Reform Alliance/Cons. in Canada and The Tea Party republican in the US cannot even be considered political parties. They are cults, cabals or just plain groups with no political ideas to offer, but they want desperately to be in charge of their countries. In Canada at least, you said it best, when Canadians told Harper "You don't speak for us."

The Mound of Sound said...


Tony Clement, really? I've spoken with two Conservatives who have served with Clement - one federally, the other in Harris' government. Both find him dumb as a post. From their remarks it makes me think the CPC under Clement's leadership would be akin to the GOP headed by Dan Quayle.

Harper dislodged the CPC from its conservative underpinnings. It was a reactionary government in the classical form. There were many things Harper's government ought to have dealt with that were simply ignored or avoided because there was no guiding vision. Tom Flanagan said that Harper eschewed vision. He was a technocrat. What mattered to him was on the agenda. What didn't, wasn't. As a result there was no coherence. Cabinet didn't make decisions. Harper made them and his cabinet served to implement his wishes. We still fail to understand how much lasting damage Harper has bequeathed the country.

Owen Gray said...

I have to confess, Pam, that -- at the moment -- I'm worried that a majority of American voters will authorize Donald Trump to speak for them.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Mound. What Harper left behind was a country whose governmental institutions were enfeebled - a country that was tailor made to be run by someone with the intellectual depth of a mole.

ffd said...

It's strange how Harper has suddenly evaporated. Hardly mentioned by MSM, no attempt to analyze what happened over those ten years, how to repair the damage or how this could have happened in a country constantly prating about how "democratic" it is.

The Tories had no principles or ideas that couldn't be changed according to convenience, in fact, despised such intellectual claptrap. They were there to hold power and gain wealth for themselves and allies and made no bones about it. Why Canadians put up with this for ten years is mysterious to me. Most of the people I meet have the vaguest ideas about government, find it boring and don't connect it to what happens in their own lives. Any attempt to talk about political issues, even casually, is met with resentment. Especially by younger people.

I should have given up by now, but I haven't. I am going to see my MP with a group of friends to talk about proportional representation. Well, at least, we have access to our MP, something unlikely to have happened in the past ten years.

Owen Gray said...

If we had had proportional representation before the arrival of Stephen Harper, ffd, he most probably would never have become prime minister.

zoombats in Hong Kong said...

To suggest that the cons are "out of touch", are we to assume that they were "in touch" at some point?

the salamander said...

.. a fascinating post.. with very interesting comments..

An 'heir' to herr Harper? Well Tony Clement, like many of the other Harper oddfellows should be the perfect coup de grace for the shrinking dwarf 'star' or black hole of the ConservaTories..By now it hardly matters whom.. they're alll so badly tainted, radioactive and toxic, shrilly dogmatic and utterly inconsequential... Did I mention tone deaf and completely out of touch.. and waiting for more hysterical failures, errors, indescretions or outright frauds & deceits to come to light ? ?

Owen Gray said...

In their last years they brought in no new talent, salamander. They were running on empty then. And they're still running on empty.

Owen Gray said...

An interesting question, zoombats. I suppose they were always in touch with their base. But that was never enough to get them elected. They had to pull the wool over the eyes of others to accomplish that. And they seem to have lost their talent for that kind of fraud.