Musings —05.06.2013 06:46 PM—
When a political party strays from its core values, what happens?
Well, it dies, for starters. Political parties, more than anything else, are a vehicle for the expression of certain basic values — which are, most days, a loose amalgam of beliefs, morals and emotions.
Now, political parties are also made up of leaders, advisers, campaign teams and whatnot, but those things come and go. For any political party to be consistently successful, values have to be constant and readily understood.
I just wrote a book about this subject, called Fight The Right, multiple copies of which I encourage you to buy. In it, I argue conservatives tend to win elections because they are really good at communications, but they’re also good at the values stuff.
Progressives, meanwhile, use too many big words, and have too many priorities. And when you have too many priorities, you don’t have any at all.
Despite a smaller voter base, conservatives are successful in elections because they don’t stray from what marketers call the Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
That term was invented by U.S. ad genius Rosser Reeves (who I wrote about in another book, The War Room, which you should also buy) to describe something about a product that distinguishes it from similar products.
The conservative USP is easy. You don’t need a degree in political science to figure it out. Conservatives dislike government, generally speaking, and liberals don’t. Liberals believe government can be a force for good. Conservatives don’t. If you know that, you’ll find conservative values are pretty easy to figure out.
Conservatives don’t like governments getting in the way with things like affirmative action, market intervention, environmental assessments, gun control, social security, welfare, or the United Nations. They don’t like those things.
Two of the things that conservatives consider to be at the epicentre of their values are fiscal prudence and the euphemistic “war on terror.” In this part of this century, conservatives can be seen continually asserting that they are better at (a) managing taxpayer dollars, and (b) protecting the homeland. That’s because, in the past decade or so, there have really been only two global events of significance — 9/11 in 2001 and the great recession of 2009.
Stephen Harper, being a smart conservative, knows that. As such, Harper and his Conservative Party have expended great effort in promoting this USP: Safety. With them, your tax dollars and your lives are safe. Over and over, every single day, Conservative Party ministers and minions promote the notion that, with them, your money and your family are protected.
This is why last week’s revelation by Auditor General Michael Ferguson is so huge. He found that Harper’s Conservatives have lost — yes, LOST — more than three billion in taxpayer dollars that had been set aside for anti-terrorism measures. When asked about the fact that his government had LOST THREE BILLION DOLLARS, Harper said: “There’s some lack of clarity.”
No, actually, there isn’t. What is crystal clear is this: Conservatives are the ones who claim to be smart fiscal managers and the guys who know how to fight terror. When now they are neither.
Progressives, you have been given an unprecedented opportunity to steal away a core conservative value. You have been given a chance to win the next election.
And that, you might say, is valuable.