The failure of Canada’s majority Conservative government to win re-election on October 17, 2015 should serve as an object lesson to the Republican establishment in the United States. Among a number of reasons for the debacle, the abandonment or weakening of first principles in the name of pragmatic and ideological compromise was a major factor leading to the Conservative defeat.
The Tories attempted to cater to non-conservative voters, to appeal to a broad constituency, to be liked, to be moderate, by softening the party’s message and gutting many of its programs. Perhaps most obviously, they drew back from significantly defunding and at least partially privatizing our deep-left state-supported national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The CBC is a cultural Marxist production that never met a Conservative policy it liked. It sees its mandate as constantly attacking every Conservative idea or piece of legislation while propagandizing on behalf of multiculturalism; Islam as a religion of peace; anti-Zionism; and radical movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Idle No More, and #BlackLivesMatter. It sided with Canada’s two socialist parties, the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP). But aside from legislating a small reduction in the CBC’s operating budget, the Conservatives allowed the “MotherCorp” to continue shilling for the opposition. Afraid of giving its foes something to be offended by, the Conservative government funded its own demise.
No less catastrophic, the Conservatives failed to pass legislation to radically protect free speech across the country – legislation that would outrank our provincial kangaroo courts, known as Human Rights Commissions, whose mandate has been to prosecute individual citizens and groups on the flimsy grounds of “hate speech.” Aside from the fact that leaving these provincial tribunals in place did not garner a single bit of support or sympathy from the social justice totalitarians, this signal failure guarantees that open discussions essential to Canada’s future as a robust democracy – especially conversations about mass immigration, Islamic terrorism, and the relation between the two – will continue to be curtailed by the left-leaning proponents of censorship in the name of social “harmony.” Such conversations are also, not incidentally, essential to the survival of a genuine Conservative party.
The Conservatives also implemented half-measures on the subject of gun control, failing to fully disband the despised Gun Registry that makes it almost impossible for people to defend themselves against criminals. Canadian gun control legislation prohibits individuals with gun permits from carrying guns on their persons except in narrowly defined circumstances, and elaborate storage protocols mean that a home-owner who experiences a home invasion by a burglar or worse would be unable to use his or her gun in self-defense.
Perhaps most damagingly, the Conservatives attempted to fight the election chiefly on the basis of fact and logical argument rather than engaging the passions and patriotic sentiments of the electorate. They were unable to rebut progressivist attacks portraying them as hateful, bigoted, backward, divisive, and exclusionary. They had no vision of Canada to offer that was not simply a less enthusiastic version of the feminist, multicultural, and “diverse” image championed by the other parties. In trying to play it safe, the Conservatives not only failed to dislodge Liberal and NDP voters from their political homes, but also alienated their conservative supporters.
The Conservatives might have used their parliamentary majority to enact truly decisive, game-changing pieces of legislation that could have consolidated a center-right political orientation not easily undone – even in the case of electoral loss. They didn’t, and we are suffering for it now.
So much, then, for Canada’s Conservatives.
The situation of the Republicans is structurally analogous. The GOP failed to use its congressional majority to assert its foundational doctrines on the misguided assumption that it could woo Democrat voters away from their traditional loyalties or perceived entitlement advantages by presenting itself as the lite version of the opposition. Denver-based radio personality Brian Joondeph cogently asks: “Where is the GOP’s bully pulpit? No effort to rally the support of the millions of voters who gave the GOP large congressional majorities. Instead, the GOP happily signs on to the Obama agenda.”
Stark examples of Republican surrender abound. Most recently, a Republican Congress signing on to Obama’s omnibus funding bill has brought itself into tawdry disrepute. Another instance involves the infamous Corker Bill, which could just as easily have been engineered by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. Senate Republicans refused to deal effectively with the deficiencies of the Corker Bill – a bill, as Andrew McCarthy explains, that was totally inadequate from the beginning to counter the Iranian nuclear threat. The affair smacks of RINO business as usual.
As Andrew Bostom writes in a critical blog entry for April 15, 2015, Senate Republicans “have cravenly acquiesced to cynical, perverse Obama Administration bullying so as not to be labeled ‘warmongers.'” Once again, we observe the standard right-wing capitulation from what should have been a position of strength.
One recalls, too, the shameful spectacle of John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, and the bloviating Lindsay Graham doing Obama’s bidding in Egypt in defense of the Muslim Brotherhood, or of McCain coming to the aid of Hillary Clinton’s Brotherhood-tainted adjunct, Huma Abedin, when she was challenged by Michele Bachmann. Such complicity – voting with or parroting the enemy – is a surefire recipe for yet another Republican electoral defeat, just as it was for Canada’s Conservatives.
In an interesting article for American Thinker, James Arlandson comes to the defense of the GOP establishment, which knows that society “moves by degrees,” that “incrementalism is the only way to retransform America,” and that the party must appeal to a majority of undecided voters. It is not an entirely convincing article. Such temperateness as Arlandson recommends sabotaged Mitt Romney’s campaign and did not prevent the installation of the most radical president in American history, whose skin color did not overlay his bred-in-the-bone Marxism. And we recall that Ronald Reagan, arguably the best president of the 20th century, was anything but temperate.
It comes down to this: Republicans need to change their game plan and go on the attack, abide by their core tenets, use their congressional majority to stymie a rogue president on every front without fear of electoral blowback, take on a corrupt and partisan media (as Donald Trump is doing, and as Romney did not when he failed to rein in CNN’s Candy Crowley’s illegitimate intervention during the second presidential debate between Romney and Obama), and stop being polite to their political enemies. They must rally behind their nominated candidate, whoever that turns out to be, turn a deaf ear to the “strategies” of political advisers and so-called experts (who are habitually wrong about everything), counter the debilitating sickness of political correctness, tackle issues like Muslim immigration and cross-border infiltrations on a consensus basis, and, generally speaking, appeal to principle rather than to the opposition.
A tall order, but RINOs will not win the 2016 election. Blue Republicans will not convince a partisan, cynical, wavering, or undecided electorate. Canada’s Conservatives lost the election in part because they shrank from being truly conservative. Similarly, should the Republicans lose in November 2016, it will be because they failed to be truly republican.
First published in the American Thinker.
I don’t think you know as much about politics in Canada as you think. You analysis is not correct, and the defeat of the Conservatives does not stand as a warning about ‘abandoning conservative principles’. We have a history of allowing 2-3 terms in power, then the government is tossed out. It was just Harper’s turn to go. His record as PM is one of the most enviable in Canadian history, and we were recently considered the best country in the world in a large publication (the name of which unfortunately escapes me now).
BTW, there are no such things as conservative politicians in Canada. They are socialists to the last.