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.