Monday, June 16, 2014

Turn Down For What?

Part 3 in our series on "Why the PC Party of Ontario is Perma-Screwed" deals with the recently revived idea that Hudak's platform was too far to the right, and what was needed was a broadening of the party's appeal. Basically, we need to go back to trying to win over Liberals and swing voters.

It never ceases to amaze me how many conservatives there are who think that there is some magical dial out there, like a volume knob, that we can turn up and down, and there is some optimal level of "conservativeness" that is acceptable to the general public and we just haven't found it yet.

I've been involved in conservative organization for close to a decade now. I have lived all over this province. I have knocked on lots of doors and asked people how they feel about a wide range of conservative candidates and leaders, and people are saying the exact same things now as they were back then. If the candidate is openly and vocally conservative, that's scary and weird. If the candidate makes an effort to emphasize their own personal progressive views, or if the party makes an effort to curb those that are openly and vocally conservative, that's just a cover-up for the hidden agenda. Because there is no acceptable level of conservativism.

So go the John Tory route if you must, but don't expect people to like you or vote for you just because you do everything you can to show how progressive you are. When you do that, voters sit back and wait for you to make a mistake, and then when you inevitably do, that's all the reason they need. Because when it comes to being progressive, the real progressives have you beaten before you even start.

I remember how the federal Tories would talk about how the public would eventually get used to Harper and how, because he had been in office for a few years, he would eventually gain the trust of the voters so long as he didn't allow anything really crazy to happen. But here it is, with Harper having been in power for 8 years going on 9, and he's still regarded as this unnatural gargoyle perched atop Canadian politics. He and his government shouldn't be there. We're not a real country with him there. When Trudeau wins, then we'll have our country back. Even if Trudeau is infinitely worse than Harper? Yes, even then. Because Trudeau, for all his flaws, isn't a conservative.

If I needed an example of how little trust people place in Harper, I just need to point to the robocalls affair. When the story broke, Harper was guilty. That's it. It went all the way to the top, it was directed from the PMO, it was a targeted pattern of suppression, and it was perfectly consistent with Harper's M.O. Meanwhile, there is more evidence that the OLP ordered the cancellation of the gas plants, linking the OLP to ORNGE, knew about waste at eHealth, is connected to the Working Families name it....than there is evidence that Harper or the PMO ordered the robocalls. Today, everyone knows what a robocall is and is vaguely suspicious about them if not outwardly hostile to them, and nobody, if you believe articles that are written in the Toronto Sun, can tell you about the gas plant scandal "because it doesn't have a catchy name."

Liberals don't have to be competent or have policy that makes sense or be ethical or even really try that hard to be elected. There are Liberal MP's and MPP's that barely campaign, vanish between elections, hold openly pro-life views, are indistinguishable from members of the CPC or NDP, can't negotiate their way around an ethnic celebration without a platoon of handlers, and might be barely clinging to life. All of these are preferable to Conservatives- any conservatives, no matter how progressive- in the eyes of Canadians.

So the only possible way that Conservatives will hold government is- as the case with Harper- if they appear to be hypercompetent and hyperorganized in the face of endless efforts from the fifth column to discredit them. But that's hard. And in a place like the PC Party of Ontario, you don't go very far by preaching absolute competence. It's about the crucial distinction between Red Tories and Blue Tories (even though nobody outside the party knows or cares what the difference is) and how those people on the other side are to blame for whatever calamity we've just gone through.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

It's Not About You

Two days after the election and Ontarians are doing what they do best; engaging in magical thinking.

Outgoing PC Leader Tim Hudak said that June 12 was not an endorsement of the status quo. Yes it was. Not only was it an endorsement of the status quo, it was a rejection of anything other than the status quo. Andrea Horwath went nowhere for 5 weeks because she said, "You know what? I really shouldn't be propping up this government anymore." She triggered an election because she thought it was time for a change. Voters disagreed. They didn't want a change. They didn't want Wynne's budget with all of its goodies to be rejected. I've seen comments that say that Wynne was the change people were looking for, which is effectively saying that people were tired of the other parties having some kind of influence in the way Ontario was governed.

Conservative commentators think that when the credit agencies start turning the screws, Wynne will be forced to start implementing austerity. No she won't. She won't because that's how Dalton McGuinty lost his job in the first place. He took on the teacher's unions with Bill 79 and lost big time, and the OLP spent most of 2013 losing ground to the NDP. The OLP is not going through that again. But even if Wynne wanted to, she couldn't, because she's only a figurehead. The unions are to Ontario what the oil companies are to Alberta. And unions are governed by people who aren't clear on why we have concepts like "debt" and "money" and "the economy" and "the private sector" in the first place. As we saw Thursday, these concepts have less and less relevance to the voting public.

Conservative grassroots are looking for the next leader. Someone with really deep PC Party roots! Or maybe a fresh face! Someone from the private sector might step up, you never know! Who will go negative, not positive! But who will also differentiate the PC Party of Ontario from the big spending Liberals. Probably a woman, too, because everyone knows women leaders make women more likely to vote. And whoever it is, they need to give the PC Party an enema!

The truth is that whoever we elect leader is going to have the stuffing kicked out of them by 21 different unions no matter what they do or don't do, if they survive being knifed repeatedly by the PC Party base and caucus when they inevitably fail to live up to expectations. So bring on your Lisa Raitts, your Tony Clements, your Monte McNaughtons, your Doug Fords, your Lisa McLeods and your Christine Elliotts, because all of these contenders share the same basic flaw: none of them are Bill Davis, and the real-life Bill Davis isn't interested in the job.

At this point in time, I'd settle for a party that doesn't make basic errors in strategy and then pretend that they don't matter, while basically marking time until the debt bomb explodes and people are carting around wheelbarrows of useless money and the jobless rate is approximately 80%. Then, believe you me, the voters will come scrambling back to the PC Party of Ontario and we can pretend that whoever had the good luck to be running the show at the time were geniuses and saviours.

But until that point, we are the Toronto Maple Leafs of political parties. We have a great history that we may never live up to again and a new crop of players with potential each go around, who, for one reason or another lose their way, and every time things look like they may be on the upswing we freak out and assume we're going to win the Stanley Cup, and every time things are on the downswing we fire a coach or a GM while still keeping the same front office in charge. But, lots of people get to project their emotions onto the team, so it makes lots of money while not delivering, which is kind of the reason for its continued existence in the first place.

If you are a conservative who thinks he or she has a big idea that will fix the party, you're doing it wrong. If you think yelling louder about scandals will shift public perceptions, stop. It isn't up to you, and it isn't up to the conservative movement anymore. There's us, the ~30% of the voting public, and then there's everybody else who isn't prepared to let us even get started. The word "conservative" leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Ontarians, and the words "progressive conservative" just confuse people.

Why, there's even a movement afoot of people who are asking why, when the voices of underrepresented minorities have been underrepresented for so long, do we even allow conservatives and other privileged subgroups the right to comment at all? If people choose not to get onside with the right side of an issue, why should we give them equal time? Why do we need conservative parties at all, when all they can ever do is oppress people? We don't have buggy whips or Betamax VCRs, and isn't conservatism a similar relic of a more troubled time? As Thursday shows, what most voting members of society would like us to do is just go away.

But you see, we can't go away. The voting public can demonize conservatives all they want, but we always win in the end. The trouble is, we don't get to choose when the end comes. It just does. It might come when the progressive movement gets a little farther down the very dark road it is on, and begins disenfranchising entire segments of society instead of just telling them they don't matter. Or, their union backers could decide that ruling from outside the halls of government isn't enough anymore. Or maybe all of this stuff will come to pass and the voters will just shrug, and we'll be in for a long dark age. Nobody knows, because it's not about us.    

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Room 101

After four election cycles it's pretty much impossible to draw any conclusion other than the people of Ontario desire and want big, bad government, and the other provinces don't have much moral authority over us in that regard either. The various subsidiaries of Liberal, Inc. are going to get bigger, less ethical, and less concerned with the problems of the average voter.

The unions are going to do as they please while we peons thrash about, complaining about Liberal fear and smear campaigns terrorizing voters, never for one second stopping to realize that the reason why these campaigns are so effective is that the groundwork is already laid for them. The Liberals are just stoking the fires, not setting them. When we told Ontarians that there were going to be cuts, the people did a fine job of panicking about their entitlements on their own.

The people do not want government spending to decrease by one single solitary nickel. No cuts. None. Not now, not ever. It was a colossal mistake to assume that there were any voters there that were going to vote for cuts. But then again, the PC Party of Ontario has been trying for years to get voters to accept ideas that they have shown no interest in accepting and has failed every time.

We are about to undergo a period of governance in Ontario that is going to make Bob Rae's tenure look positively rosy. And there is no way out of the debt trap. We can flee to Alberta or Saskatchewan, where things are marginally better, for now, but as soon as the Working Families Coalition concept gets rolling over there (likely as part of the Justin Trudeau campaign) the West is going to end up like the Rest.

The rest of the "conservative" "movement" is content to sit and watch Sun News, read Mark Steyn and receive cards in the mail from the Manning Centre while blurping about the need for a "real conservative party" until Justin Trudeau takes over and orders everything shut down Chavez-style because they think the problem is Leader X, Party Y, and/or Policy Z. The problem is that the people we are trying to reach have accepted that our new union overlords determine how they're going to be voting. The problem is that people have decided that they are effectively public property and their lives are to be managed from fetus to end-of-life injection by the God-State. The problem is that across the ocean mighty powers smash countries like Ukraine like a five year old stomping on an anthill and nobody can, or really wants to, do a damn thing about it.

Kathleen Wynne drew a line in the sand during this election. She sent a message to everyone- Conservatives, NDPers who embraced populism, and even blue Liberals who wanted to see Sandra Pupatello be leader- that they could either get on board with the government's plan or stand in the corner with the Tea Party. And as we see today, that strategy was a great success. She knew that Ontarians would rather have a corrupt and profligate government that gets bailed out repeatedly by Ottawa than endure any cuts, anywhere, for any reason. No semblance of conservatism will be tolerated in the new consensus.

And as for that whole thing about how Ontario will bring the rest of Canada down with it if it doesn't get its finances in order; yes, of course it will. That's the point. That's what Kathleen Wynne wants, and that's what Ontarians want. A Canada where everyone is screwed and nobody is better off than anyone else, where nobody has to envy anyone else or feel like they are lessers. That's the dream, and they have it now.