Musings —11.15.2016 09:56 AM—
Fight the Right, to be precise. here’s what I found. It’s what Leitch is doing, and with some success, too.
“…Conservatives like the ones gathered at the Values Summit believe their values are American values because, well, they are. That’s just the way it goes, and if you don’t like it, you’re with the terrorists.
But, fair’s fair. It’s not a uniquely American conservative point of view. Up here in the Great White North as well, conservatives have been claiming for years that conservative and Canadian values are interchangeable – after all, how else do they keep winning election campaigns, right? So, right after the 2011 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made his annual visit to the family-friendly Calgary Stampede. There, beneath a Stetson, he bashed his opponents (as expected) and insisted his Conservatives are super-duper winners (ditto). But then he said this: “Conservative values are Canadian values.” And: “Canadian values are Conservative values.”
Hoo boy! When he uttered that little syllogism, the progressive side of the commentariat promptly went bananas. Liberal Leader Bob Rae — whose party Harper amusingly described as relevant as “disco balls and bell bottoms” — declared that Harper was sounding pretty arrogant, which was true. One of the Globe and Mail’s pundits, Lawrence Martin, agreed (and the Globe would certainly know arrogance when it is sees it). So did a Saskatoon Star-Phoenix columnist, who opined it reeked of “annoying arrogance.” In the Winnipeg Free Press, Frances Russell — not noted as a Harper cheerleader — concurred that the Stampede tub-thumper was a lot of triumphalism, hubris and arrogance. You get the picture: “Arrogant.”
It was indeed “arrogant” to say Conservative values and Canadian values are the same thing. (Although, truth be told, I thought Harper’s crack about disco balls and bell bottoms was pretty funny, coming as it does from a guy so square, he needs to walk around the block to turn over in bed.) So when Harper’s Stampede stump-speech and his “values” claim came up during my appearance on Krista Erickson’s Sun News Network show, I shrugged. “Meh,” said I. First off, I reminded her, I am a Calgarian who — like most sane Calgarians — is no fan of the Stampede. The Stampede, I suggested, is mostly an opportunity for uptight businessmen and repressed Easterners to descend on downtown Calgary, drink too much, contract venereal diseases, and throw up in public. “If you’re a true Calgarian, Stampede’s a good time to leave town,” I said to my horrified host.
Secondly, I suggested, Canadian conservative politicians have been claiming their party’s “values” are identical to Canadians’ “values” since Jesus was a little feller. Before he became prime minister in 1978, Brian Mulroney gave a speech in honour of a conservative bagman suggesting that Tory values were “real values” and Canadians deserved “no less.” In the same vein, the aforementioned Stockwell Day once speechified as Canadian Alliance leader that “new leadership” – that is to say, his – was need to “reflect [Canadians’] values.” Ditto Preston Manning, the former Reform Party boss, and Harper and Day’s predecessor, who made the same claim: “As conservative values become more Canadian values…that’s something Conservatives should be happy about.”
It’s the same, in fact, for every other recently minted Conservative leader to emerge from Alberta (as all of them do). Conservative politicians can always be seen insisting that theirs are identical to yours, because they know that whomever controls the “values” debate tends to always win.
That doesn’t mean we progressives should let them, of course. If we want to start winning – if we want to defeat the conservative hordes – we need to show that we, too, have the values that resonate with ordinary folks. That means getting better at appealing to the hearts and minds of voters, and our fellow citizens. For progressives, it’s a valuable endeavour, you might say.”