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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

With Conservatives Like These.....

Gerry Nicholls on the movement today:

These factions have emerged because “our guy” is in power and it has changed the movement. 

Whereas 25 years ago conservatives were united; today we are divided; whereas 25 years ago conservatives were confident and determined, today we are cautious and timid; whereas 25 years ago conservatives cared more about principle, today many conservatives care more about partisanship. 

This is not good for the movement. 

 We have lost our voice. 

And that’s bad because it means Prime Minister Harper and his government are defining conservatism. 

For the average Canadian, Conservative polices represent conservative thought. That means the average Canadian now associates conservatism with big spending, big government, deficits and with those oversized novelty cheques. 

That’s not good for conservatism, that’s not good for the Conservative Party, that’s not good for the country. So what can we do about it? 

Well that leads me to the future of the conservative movement. What we conservatives need to do is push the “reset button.”

Reading Gerry's intro to this speech, I couldn't help but recall Tennyson's Ulysses

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

The nostalgia is palpable. In the good old days. They were, in retrospect, very good days. There was a genuine roll back in the frontiers of the state. More than this, there was hope. That dazzling possibility that we as a nation were at last leaving the twentieth century's Great Statist Detour. Rand observed that civilization is the process of freeing man from men. Until about a hundred years ago the general trend was in that direction. Governments staying or becoming small. 

Between 1914 and 1940 Western Civilization seemed to engage in an orgy of statism. A plethora of "isms" proclaimed a new modernity free of the shackles of the old. The old liberals sought freedom of men from the state, the new liberals sought the freedom of the state over men. Whatever the flavour, the trend was for bigger and more intrusive government. The period 1940-2 was the statist nadir. It was at that moment that totalitarian states encompassed more of the developed world than at anytime before or since. God was now the state. The sheer spectacle of violence and suffering unleashed by such regimes, especially in so short a time, seems to have given civilized men pause. 

Perhaps the state was not God. The lesson was only imperfectly understood. Having saved the world from tyranny, the British promptly voted in a socialist government with a thumping majority. Too much government was dangerous, but a moderate amount could do wonders. Even George Orwell, a staunch supporter of the Labour Party, agreed. Having stepped back from the precipice, the West began to edge toward it again. The next crisis, circa 1979, confronted the West with bankruptcy, and whatever horrors might follow that. By that time enough of an intellectual movement had developed to correctly - for the most part - diagnose the disease and propose effective cures. Yet the treatment went only so far as curing the immediate problem. Like conducting a triple-bypass. The patient, however, was continuing with a cholesterol laden diet. We now reach the Age of Obama, which feels rather too much like the Age of Nixon and Carter. 

The poem Ulysses, being by Tennyson, is Victorian and optimistic. So it concludes:

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Words of advice to a new generation of small government activists. There is no point in being in power, if you're just going to do what the other guy would have done anyway.

Posted by Richard Anderson on December 16, 2009 | Permalink


Perhaps the point is to be in power. Conservatives in Opposition are not in power, given that enough of them are elected in the first place. A conservative can deny responsibilty for the decisions made by the other party in power by saying he/she did not vote for that party. This would be an absurd denial. totally lacking in reality, if that conservative represented a group that by embracing tenaciously its principles kept their Conservatives out of power.

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-12-16 8:03:29 AM

No, the point is not to be in power simply for the sake of power.

The point is to move forward a conservative agenda. You don't necessarily have to be in power to do so. The Liberals balanced the budget because of pressure from a conservative minded opposition. Looking in the opposite direction it was the NDP who brought us the travesty known as socialised medicine. You don't have to be in power to affect change.

Conservatives should wake up in the morning asking themselves how do I move the Conservative agenda forward. That is a very different question from simply 'how do I get in power'.

For too many conservatives unfortunately it is all about the power and nothing else. Which is why they eagerly sell their souls for just the possibility of attaining it. This is not good for either the conservative movement or the country.

Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2009-12-16 10:31:36 AM

Put another way, power is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2009-12-16 10:33:56 AM

Canada is not a conservative country. Parasites outnumber producers. The combined popular support of the Liberals, NDP and Greens surpass the CPC by a significant margin. The CPC is allowed to rule as a center-left liberal party by the nature of the parliamentary system. Nicholls should focus on expanding the support of principled conservatism rather than whining about PMSH. The situation for Libertarians is much worse as they represent a mere pimple on the ass of the support of Conservatives. Whether it's more effective to effect change from inside the CPC tent or continue suffering with the humiliation of the Libertarian Party is probably moot as you would all probably accomplish more as school teachers.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2009-12-16 11:17:29 AM

"...power is a means to an end..." See Farmer Joe. Exactly!

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-12-16 2:05:12 PM

You're quoting me out of context. Too many so-called conservatives view power only as an end unto itself.

Posted by: Farmer Joe | 2009-12-16 2:39:00 PM

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