Embrace The Badass, Deflect Scandals
Conservatives are treated differently by journalists and media. That's just a fact. It's also the most common complaint we hear from conservatives and Conservative Party supporters. Even in cases where there is no real scandal, journalists will make something up to hurt politicians they disagree with. At some point, journalism mutated into the mess it is today, but we can't just blame journalism. Journalists have allowed their own personal feelings to bleed into their work more than ever before, but that's not the only reason journalists feel compelled to take aim at conservatives. Conservatives are treated differently because they set unrealistic standards for themselves.
In recent months, journalists have attacked Justin Trudeau for a lot of the same reasons they attack conservatives: perceived hypocrisy. Justin Trudeau's incessant virtue signalling doesn't go well with his tendency to break ethics rules and blatantly appropriate the cultures of the countries he visits. Justin Trudeau is also doing many of the things he accused Stephen Harper of doing, while pissing off his own Liberal base. Over the past year, the Trudeau government has experienced more humiliating scandals and headlines than the Harper government did in ten. Most of this is related to the slimy, green hypocrisy that's been oozing out of the cracks in Trudeau's shiny facade.
There are two simple solutions to preventing scandals on the conservative side of the political spectrum. One involves setting more realistic standards, the other involves living up to the standards that have been set.
First, I should explain what I mean when I say that conservatives are setting the bar too high for themselves. I don't mean they should lower their standards by becoming moral degenerates, I mean they need to be more realistic about what it means to be human, to make mistakes and to have flaws.
Without any disrespect, I'm going to use Rob Ford as an example. Had he been a liberal, his crack scandal would have still been bad, but not as bad as it was. The reason for this isn't rooted as much in media bias as it is in the standards that Rob Ford applied to himself. During his mayoral campaign in 2010, Ford railed against drugs and crime. This was all a part of the traditional conservative pitch. Had Ford been a liberal, he probably wouldn't have been such a hard-ass when it came to drugs and crime. Therefore, he might not have been treated as harshly as he was. This is where self-imposed standards come into play.
Yes, Rob Ford was a conservative. Yes, the media and the Toronto Star were out to get him from the beginning. However, none of that changes what Rob Ford did. None of that changes the fact that smoking crack with criminals makes you look like a flaming hypocrite when a part of your schtick involves fighting drugs and crime. The truth is, Rob Ford set the standards for himself, but was unable to live up to them. We can blame the media all we want, but had he not smoked crack with criminals, there would not have been a scandal.
Rob Ford's other option would have been to refrain from setting standards he knew he couldn't live up to.
Conservatives apply unnaturally high standards to themselves. Journalists are always sniffing around for evidence of hypocrisy and they know they'll probably find it in conservative circles. Since most journalists have an inherent hatred for anything that looks or smells like a conservative, they're extra eager to find hypocrisy. They end up finding hypocrisy among conservative politicians because conservative politicians aren't always capable of living up to the standards they set for themselves. Liberals, on the other hand, are expected to be liberal with our money, have open relationships, watch porn, do drugs, experiment in the bedroom and tell perverted jokes. Liberals never really oppose any of those things, which is why they're allowed to get away with doing them more often.
So, what should conservatives change about themselves to prevent future scandals?
Admit And Embrace The Faults
Unlike liberals, conservatives are less willing to accept or admit their own faults. Despite being human, conservatives like to pretend they've never done anything wrong. This relates to all of the points I mentioned earlier.
People love a good character arc, but most conservatives don't have one. Most conservatives sell themselves as perfect, righteous and flawless from the moment they were conceived. Not only does this make for a boring story, it's usually total bullshit. In cases where it's not total bullshit, such a person with zero life experience should not be telling other people how to live. If you're going to tell me that marijuana is a gateway drug, you best have a compelling backstory about how you smoked weed and then became a heroin addict.
Conservatives like to believe they could never be as depraved or perverted as liberals, but we know that's not true. History is littered with stories of prominent Conservatives and Republicans doing things that directly contradict everything they were supposed to stand for. This is a part of why they get such a hard time in media.
George W. Bush's coke-snorting college days were a bigger deal than Barack Obama's coke-snorting college days because Bush expanded the war on drugs and refused to pardon people with drug convictions. Had Bush ever been busted for possession and treated like a normal person, he would have never become president and he would have had a life-long criminal record. If two separate timelines happened to merge, future Bush would have opted to punish a younger Bush.
After spending more than a year trying to have Bill Clinton impeached for perjury, while feigning outrage over the president's infidelity, Newt Gingrich cheated on his own wife—while she had cancer.
Herein lies the problem with conservatism and hypocrisy.
Just because Bush snorted coke in college doesn't mean he should never be able to take a hard stance on drugs. It just means he should have come clean earlier, admitted his faults and given a rational explanation for his change of heart. Instead, he sold himself as a flawless, God-loving Christian. No one found out about Bush's prior DUI arrest or coke habit because he came clean about them, they found out because journalists did some digging. Had Bush come clean beforehand, it might not have been such a big deal. As for Obama—come on. We all know he experimented.
As for Newt Ginrich, he left office as one of the most hated Republicans in American history, while Bill Clinton survived impeachment and left office with a 60% approval rating.
The more conservatives talk about how virtuous and perfect they are, the more eager journalists are to prove the opposite. Rather than pretend they have perfect marriages, perfect pasts, impeccable morality and no faults, conservatives need to spend more time convincing people that they're human.
Quit Virtue Signalling
As Catherine Mckenna once pointed out on Twitter, the term “virtue signalling” is most often used by conservatives against liberals and socialists:
McKenna is obviously a virtue signalling blowhard, but she's right about conservatives over-using the term. The reason conservatives use the term so much is because Liberals and New Democrats spend so much time doing it. If Liberals quit virtue signalling so much, we wouldn't have to accuse them of virtue signalling so much.
However, the truth is that conservatives also spend a lot of time virtue signalling. They may not know they're virtue signalling, but they're definitely virtue signalling. Both big and small C conservatives spend a lot of time doing it on social media. The most common forms of virtue signalling among conservatives relates to abortion, religious faith, monogamy and “hard work”.
The most common virtue signal you'll hear from conservatives goes something like this: “I worked hard for everything that I have. I earned my success and never took any handouts from anyone.” That phrase comes in many forms and it sounds about as self righteous as it's intended to be. Ordinary people who don't know the difference between liberals and conservatives see it as a loud and clear virtue signal. Why? Because that's exactly what it is.
Similar forms of conservative virtue signalling involve abortion and marriage, but I'm not going to get too deep into it. The gist: conservatives don't kill babies. They love all babies. So much as joking about killing a fetus is deplorable. How dare you even think it!
I know all of this might sound insulting if you're a conservative, but bear with me. You need to lighten the fuck up. You're a part of the problem.
Stating that you worked hard for everything isn't the point of contention. The part about rubbing it in people's faces while claiming you've never had help—ever, from anyone—is the problem. Not only is your need to bring up your own hard work the equivalent of a liberal proclaiming their love of black, transgender Muslim refugees, it's probably somewhat inaccurate. Claiming that you never took a handout or ever had help from family, friends or strangers is probably a straight-up lie. We've all had help at some point.
The biggest problem with making such bold and virtuous statements about working hard without handouts, never having abortions, never having a moment of weakness and always being faithful, is that if you ever falter—even a tiny bit—it will be held against you. None of us know what the future will bring, so it's better to be somewhat humble.
Live By What You Preach
It's ok to have done drugs and be against them. It's ok to have had an abortion, a failed marriage, a moral misstep or an unsavoury detail in your past. That's all a part of being human. People are allowed to change. What's not ok is pretending you've never made any mistakes. What's worse is repeating those mistakes while preaching against them. If you still smoke crack, maybe don't rail against drugs. If you tell people adultery is a sin, don't cheat on your wife. If you can't live up to your own public standards, just admit you're a liberal, cross the aisle, or pick a new career.
There is only one clear and fail-proof way to prevent a scandal as a conservative and that's to live by what you preach. If you can't live by it, don't preach it. You'll probably still get elected and people might respect you more. Throw your past out on the table and let everyone see it. You might be surprised by the results.
A good character arc would show us a conservative who smoked pot in high school, had several sexual partners, maybe tried cocaine and got into some trouble with the law—only to grow up and transform into someone with the experience to tell the rest of us why none of that is good.
Having made mistakes doesn't disqualify any of us from having opinions, running for office, or setting high standards for ourselves and society. In fact, being flawed and having a past should be a more commonly accepted trait for conservatives in politics. If we want to start winning and avoiding scandals, we need to convince people that we're human. Conservatives could rail against drugs and social decay more effectively if people thought they were coming from a place of real experience.
You can live by what you preach, while admitting you aren't perfect. People just want to know that you've learned from your mistakes. That's the kind of story people want, because it's a story we can all share.