Here's a story we tell about Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, and person who likes to talk about having "conversations" with others.
There is a certain venerable veteran of many a campaign, currently residing in a particular midtown Toronto riding who encountered Ms. Wynne at a multipartisan event. As it was a multipartisan event, this wise abbot wore his Conservative Party of Canada colours proudly, with the blue C prominently displayed.
In the seasoned master's version of the tale, Ms. Wynne, upon spying the logo, wrinkled her nose in disgust and said, "How can you support that fascist?" That fascist, of course, was the Prime Minister of Canada. And thus, as you can well imagine, the opportunity for a "conversation" was lost, because the woman who is currently our Premier did not have the tact to muzzle her own hatred for the leader of the CPC while speaking to one of his ardent supporters.
So let it be made absolutely, perfectly clear; When progressives, and most people, talk about having conversations with others, they're not talking about having conversations with conservatives. Because we disagree with the progressive consensus, our views are extremist and can be safely ignored. What we say is not to be taken seriously.
When progressives relate to conservatives, if at all, it is to characterize them either as bumbling fools with kooky, hopelessly naive views, or dangerous ideologues who want to roll back all progress. We are like Disney villains, comic relief and threat at the same time.
That, of course, was Jim Carrey mocking Charlton Heston. But you could really substitute any conservative in there, from Mitt Romney to David Cameron to Sarah Palin.
Now, if these progressives were interested in having "conversations" with us, then they would try to listen to what we said and have something resembling a give and take, because that's what a conversation is. But that doesn't happen, because they are not actually interested in having a conversation with us. Our proper place is either as a punch line, or as monsters under the bed. Sure, we're occasionally interesting to have around, and we might even be useful from time to time whenever we have an idea that can be stolen, but that's as far as it goes.
And it's very important that we remain in that role, because attacking conservatives is socially acceptable. If there weren't any conservatives to make fun of or demonize, then not only would progressives have no outlet for their hateful impulses, but they would have to turn the critical lens back on themselves and realize all the ways their progressive projects are falling way, way short.
For Kathleen Wynne to stay Premier of Ontario, she doesn't have to have a conversation with us. She just has to have "conversations" with Horwath. Horwath can claim legitimacy and hold up the table scraps that Wynne throws her as proof of concessions, and they can both point and laugh at Tim Hudak for rejecting the entire farce.
For my part, I can count on the finger of one hand the number of progressives, or anyone who wasn't already inclined in a conservative manner for that matter, who I've met that were really interested in having a conversation where we exchanged views and learned from one another and treated each other with mutual respect. My views are the basis for humour, or they are threatening, and even in the rare cases that I am able to have something resembling an exchange of views, the fact that I don't grasp the manifest superiority of the progressive position on every single issue is visibly annoying to them.
Because we know it doesn't apply to us, Wynne's call for a "conversation" is disingenuous. Everyone else looks at it and feels touched, but we're not fooled.
And so there will be no "conversation", just the same old communication breakdown that has always existed. Not because we don't want one, but because the people who say they want one aren't really interested in having one. They are just interested in getting what they want.