Monday, January 16, 2006

Lets win the war, not just the battle.

Now, we're mostly Conserveratives here in the blogsphere and to some degree there is an echo chamber for our debates. However, when one enters into the wider world its rather clear that "staunch" conservatives are a minority. There are a goodly number of small c conservatives and small l liberals. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

The primary disadvantage for conservatives is that far more people in Canada after decades of Liberal rule self identify as Liberals than do as Conservatives. This makes there electoral floor larger than ours. Look at their polling numbers right now, they're currently on pace to their WORST result EVER. Which is to say that a Liberal campaign which is completely inept and bumbling will garner more votes than the Reform and Alliance ever did. Whether one happens to like that realization or not, those strictly speaking are the facts.

Now working from this disadvantage one needs to be aware that Conservatives have to approach implimenting change in a cautious and gradual manner. Impliment the parts of our agenda which are now public consensus, and build a level of trust with the electorate. That also happens to involve cleaning up the government and dealing a rather resounding blow to the Liberal party's crony infrastructure. Implimenting some tax cuts, and several other of our big ticket campaign promises.

In an age of cynicism if Conservatives can convince Canadians that we are the party that they can trust, and that will do the right thing for Canada then you have the political capital to broach political topics like real and substantial electoral reform. I realize that after more than a decade in the opposition, its easy to forget that Rome wasn't built in a day and that we must walk before we can run.

We want our time to be now. However, I think Conservatives right now need to be patient. Right now our focus has to be upon coalition building and selling the Conservative brand. If we want an electoral victory to be anything more than a flash in the electoral pan, then we need to start where Canadians are and slowly cause where they are to drift to the right.

The Liberals and the NDP have been nudging the country to the left for decades, we aren't going to be able to burst into Ottawa and undo all of that in the space of a couple monthes. What we can do is defang leftist lobby groups whom are reliant on the government for their funding, make inroads into traditonally Liberal ethnic groups, gain the credibility of experience and incumbancy. We can keep the economy humming along, and probably improve it with our tax policies and by making a few more payments on the debt. We can also halt the line on the social agenda of the left, although undoing what is done is unlikely to be palatable to a population reluctant to revisit social issues.

We can begin to undo decades of Liberal appointments, with Conservative appointments to various troublesome Liberal instutitions such as the CBC. While we all have damned the CBC as the mouthpiece of its Liberal masters, it should be clear that the CBC is the mouthpiece of the state. We simply have to make it clear that the state is under new management and we expect it to act accordingly.

The Conservative party itself cannot alter the moral trajectory of the country, that's up to Conservatives in their private capacity. We lack the foundations, the think tanks, media and organizational backdrop that the GOP does to the south that have offered an constant stream of alternative culture to former liberal dominance. What the Conservative Party itself can do is neutralize the current Liberal advantage and begin to empower the Conservative brand itself and alter the focus of government onto priorities that the lot of us and most other Canadians aren't likely to find offensive. Canada is more conservative than it thinks, but less Conservative than your average Conservative activist. That said we can follow fiscal conservative and keep in moderation on various social fronts and safely stay in power.

Harper is aware of this, and has advocated a gradual approach in the past. As a result, we'll see a cautious Conservative government which passes through policies it knows will be winners in view of establishing the party as the objective is firstly and foremostly to displace the Liberal party as the default government. In order to do that we must work with the people we have, not the ones we wish we had. Idealogical purity doesn't win elections, however, in order to ultimately nudge Canada's political landscape to the right in a last fashion we first need to win and build the foundations for lasting sucess while we do so. This election is a battle, and a chance to begin to win a war we've been losing for the better part of the last century.

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