This Is Real Conservatism
June 1st, 2020 | KW
There is an unspoken feeling about conservatism in Canada. A quiet collective knowledge that something is not quite right about the sensibility and it does not quite represent itself well. Think of it as a haze that blinds you just enough to identify conservatism, but still leaves you doubtful, still to be persuaded it could be something else.
How is it that conservatism today is publicly perceived as being all the moral virtues we despise in society? More importantly, why has conservatism let its political and creative language be exploited by its ideological adversaries? There answers are not all to clear, but what is clear is that most western conservative parties have adopted the same problem, an identity crisis.
To get to the bottom of what conservatism is, we must look to our past and understand it. In Canada, there can be a strong case made that Conservatives have always been a fractured tent, banding together only twice in history to make Canada’s largest majorities (1958 with Diefenbaker and 1984 with Mulroney). Though, if one were to look closely at the record of both the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party of Canada on paper, without any indication which platform belonged to which party, many wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
One should also know that the Conservative Party has gone through many changes. We are all familiar with the Progressive Conservative Party, renamed from simply the Conservative Party in 1942, though it was originally called the Liberal-Conservative Party during its first incarnation. Essentially, Canada has been choosing between two versions of European Liberalism for the better part of its existence. There is no Conservative Party in Canada, just two liberal parties.
Though, to be fair, what modern Conservatism has done is try to modernize itself. Despite this self- inflicted modernization, it has essentially morphed into something quite different than the classical liberal ideas it once had. Instead it has become the Corporate Conservative Party, where it holds tightly to only a few ideas of conservatism; mainly defense of religious freedoms (this seems one-sided and a watered-down virtue of its former principle) and low taxes.
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Looking at the history, there has always been three leading branches which make up the Conservative tent. The Libertarians in Canada believe in maximizing personal liberties and freedom while minimizing the dependency on the government for those same freedoms.
They are less about religious freedom and more about fiscal responsibility and proper social justice.
The Social Conservatives are mostly the religious aspect of the tent, bringing in faith and mostly Christianity to the conservative cause. Though this is not the only religion present inside the tent, it makes up the majority of theological members.
Then there is the anti-collectivist group who are fervently anti-communist and pro-individualism. Historically opposed to large government or unreasonable government intervention. Above all else, though, these groups believe that freedom means we are born free in nature. That we give up some of our natural rights for some security by government, which we have created. It is important to note that we do not give up our responsibility and morals so that the government may tell us what is good and what is bad.
Naturally, Conservatism is diametrically opposed to any large government interventions in our personal and social lives. The government should not seek out to influence, manipulate, or craft a society or their culture. It develops naturally outside of the government and is the sole domain of the people. The government should only be the arbiters of the law and not seek to influence legislation on personally held beliefs. Neutrality is one word which comes to mind when describing the government artifact.
Together, these aspects are what should drive the Conservative agenda in Canada, but do you see it anywhere? There is a predominant faction in modern Canadian conservatism which is underpinned by corporatism, otherwise known as special interest groups. The modern Conservatism Group of Canada is a party of special interest groups. Though, that does not mean the Liberal Party is the party of liberalism. It is a misnomer in fact. The Liberal Party would serve the Canadian electorate much better if it just called itself the Progressive Canadian Party, because they have more to do with collectivism and anti-individualism than any other party, save the NDP.
There are three conservative branches that try to run the Conservative party and, like any relationship, if there is one member that does not uphold its commitments, the relationship turns sour or ends.
"To get to the bottom of what conservatism is, we must look to our past and understand it."
It turns out that one partner in the conservative movement completely disregarded a whole group of constituents, who gave the party their trust, and broke it. More importantly, it abandoned those ideas of individual liberty and freedom. It has weakened its position on religion and small government. This happened before in 1987 with the Reform Party and again with in 2019 with the People’s Party of Canada, lead by a former Conservative cabinet minister and candidate for the Conservative Party leadership.
What we are seeing now is the Conservative Party go back to its roots as a “Lib-Con” party, barely making itself distinguishable from its long-time political adversary. This about-face has cost the Conservative Party at least 292,703 votes in the last election (according to elections Canada).
Regardless, that is a stronger showing than the Green Party’s first election. I have spent this article describing what conservatism is, or ought to be. Now I will tell you briefly what conservatism is not. It is not racist. It is not sexist or bigoted. It is not collectivist nor is it against the welfare state. It is about individualism. It is about freedom and happiness. It is about a strong welfare state, should someone need it, not because it is simply there.
A conservative party exists to remind the people that there can be virtue in politics, and our leaders arethere to remind us that there is virtue in each of us. That we must not fall victim to the pressures of our lives. We must rebuild our community and faith in one another.
Our hearts have grown cold and so have our politics. There is a hunger in Canada for a reigniting of Western Conservatism. The ideals of liberty and independence from government intervention at every turn.
There is a hunger out there for Western Conservatism. A thirst for the ideal of liberty and freedom from government intervention. The people are stirring, beginning to see from the haze, and they do not like what’s standing before them.
© 2020 Poletical