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Conservatives=Democrats. Who knew?

Funnily enough, some additional confirmation of my “theory” of there being an inordinately large disparity in opinion between “The Blogging Tories” and “average Conservatives” was unintentionally provided yesterday by none other than self-described “cyber-sherpa” Kate McMillan. When attempting to define Canadian conservatism for her witless American hosts at BlogTalkRadio, she said:

“You get moving east [beyond Manitoba] and conservatism there is really again, except for some pockets, it’s almost, you know, liberalism. It’s left of centre no question about that. ‘How shall we best deliver socialized Medicare?’ is kind of [laughs] the definition of conservatism in the east. As it stands we don’t even have a truly conservative party in the way that Americans do. We have Democrats and hard left socialists.”

So there you go folks. With a few exceptions, in the eyes of “Canada’s Best Blogger” Canadian conservatives, at least west of the Rockies and east of the Great Plains, are nothing but a bunch of lefty Democrats. And apparently, the same goes for the Stephen Harper Party of Canada! It seems they’re guilty of some pretty egregious false advertising according to Ms. McMillan.

Of course, Kate’s observation isn’t exactly original. As our friend Jay alluded to in the comments on the previous thread, back in 2005 Bruce Gamble wrote in the National Review that “to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the meaning of the word ‘conservative’ is. A Canadian conservative is similar to a moderate Democrat here. There is no true conservative party in Canada, as we know conservatism.”

Kate does however add a somewhat novel twist to that by factionalizing the definition of conservatism, differentiating it according to region. Even so, it seems awfully schizophrenic to be demonizing the Democrats (and “liberals” in general) on the one hand as little short of being the root of all societal evil and then to turn around and draw a direct comparison between them and the party you support as well as the majority of people who likewise support that party. When exactly does the cognitive dissonance kick in over there in BT Land?

22 comments to Conservatives=Democrats. Who knew?

  • Well Kate, I certainly don’t belong to the Liberal party,yet I am constantly beset with charges of being a Liberal. even though I have voted for conservative in past federal and provincal. I have also voted Green and Liberal.

    So Kate, tell the truth, when was the last time you voted liberal? Or for some other party that wasn’t Reform or Alianace or CPC.

    Oh and Kate, the excuse I don’t belong to a politcal party holds about as much water as a sive.

    As for the BT’ers, while I consider myself a red tory, the powers that be rejected my application for membership back in 2005. Yet people like Proud to be Canadian are allowed or crazies like Neo. This is the compny you sleep with Kate.

  • ALW

    Martin - well yeah.  And it’s bizarre, because that brand of conservativism is (aside from being ideologically inconsistent, in my view) neither (a) politically retailable nor (b) popular amongst large swathes of the public. So it’s a lose-lose.

    (Let me clear here: I’m not a Joe Clark Tory.  I don’t buy into the lingo about "avoiding extremes" for the sake of avoiding extremes.  I will not beat up on social conservatives for holding views I might not care for, but I will oppose them when they attempt to use the state to impose those views on others. )  

  • It wasn’t me that said it. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard before that she’s not formally affiliated with any party.  

  • [quote comment="12102"] By the way, Scott – I don’t belong to the CPoC or any other political party. But it looks like there are ample comments here to demonstrate that at least some people understood what I was saying.[/quote]

    That’s nice Kate, but I never said or implied that you were a member of CPoC. If it said somewhere in this blogpiece that you were, you might read the editor line and see that Martin Rayner (aka Red Tory) wrote this piece as a guest blogger here.

    EDIT: IT was Zorpheous in commentary that said you were a member of CpoC, so if that’s what you’re referring to, correct him, not I.

  • There’s a lot of confusion over the term “conservative” that’s for sure. I know it was a recurring topic of discussion at my old place, especially seeing as a number of regular commenters were old school Tories who just abhorred the vulgar, U.S. style “movement conservatives” that seem to be quite prevalent on the blogs. I’ve always had a lot of difficulty pinning myself down in terms of what my ideological badge should be. I’ll gladly take “liberal” but in fact, I’m as much “conservative” as anything else, with a good deal of libertarian thrown in. Moderate is a term I like, but it just draws blank stares and it’s pretty hard to define exactly what that stands for.  As for Canadian conservative voters in the aggregate, I don’t think you’ll find any serious political commentator that will argue the beast resembles its American counterpart. It is definitely more timid, definitely less socially conservative, and definitely constrained by the X-factor of constantly being equated to American conservatives by their domestic political enemies – a strategy which I am sure we all know is extremely damaging. 
      I’d definitely agree with that, which was kind of the point being made here; that many of the BTs are way outside of the mainstream, even of their own party. They actually seem to want to emulate their American counterparts, which is kind of sad really.

  • Kate — My bad. I should have said "witless European" host.

  • Just a point of correction. My "witless American" host was Michael van der Galiën, founder of Poligazette (a European blog) and an American Studies student at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands.

    By the way, Scott – I don’t belong to the CPoC or any other political party. But it looks like there are ample comments here to demonstrate that at least some people understood what I was saying.

  • ALW

    Being more on the libertarian wing of the conservative movement myself, I am used to being dismissed as a "liberal" by some of my fellow partisans. I think this is because in the minds of some conservatives, if you agree with liberals on anything, you are by definition a liberal (or in the Canadian context, these folks can’t tell the difference between a "red tory" (not you, Martin!) and a libertarian. Silly but true.
    I think that’s what Kate’s getting at. I know that lots of Tories out west don’t consider "eastern Tories" to be the real deal. They think we’re all Bill Davis/Brian Mulroney conservatives.
    As for Canadian conservative voters in the aggregate, I don’t think you’ll find any serious political commentator that will argue the beast resembles its American counterpart. It is definitely more timid, definitely less socially conservative, and definitely constrained by the X-factor of constantly being equated to American conservatives by their domestic political enemies – a strategy which I am sure we all know is extremely damaging.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    Martin observes, " I don’t understand the man’s psychology or pretend to know what motivates him. He’s a complete mystery to me."

    Ask not what Mr. Harper can do for you or the country; ask what you and the country can do for Mr. Harper. Then it will all be clear.

    He is rather obvious about it.

    Cheers,

    Coffee

  • WWC — I don’t understand the man’s psychology or pretend to know what motivates him. He’s a complete mystery to me. So I guess we’ll have to see whether you’re correct, won’t we? It does seem a little contradictory to be what in the States would be considered a “states-rights” kind of guy, but personally be such a control freak wanting to have a hand in everything. Since coming to power he’s been remarkably coy about what he thinks, other than just making boilerplate type statements that don’t really signify much of anything and offering up little nibblets of policy based on their extensive polling of what people supposedly want from government.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    That got a way… the previous post formated

    Martin,  

    I hope this helps. 

    Every Government (provincial or federal) has been centralizing upon previous governments’ centralizing ways. The old pattern was a “tug of war” between centralizing and decentralizing. Today, more and more centralization is the way. 

    Mr. Harper is the ultimate centralist in that everything is all Harper all the time, which plainly cannot work as the government has $400 billion to manage and is the caretaker of a trillion dollar economy. No one man and his egocentric persona can do a good job at it all alone… although Mr. Harper believes he can. 

    Mr. Harper’s agenda is clear;  Mr. Harper is a Republican as that fits his egocentric (me at the center) theme of government. He is not a democrat in any sense of the word.  

    Economically, Mr. Harper is libertarian bought but  bought and paid for with Albertan money. His mandate is to increase oil revenues… Ontario and Quebec economies be damned. 

    Socially, Mr. Harper hates people as they are all stupider than him. He is not a social conservative nor a progressive. He is a "me man"… all that counts is me. 

    Accordingly, looking at Mr. Harper through ideological eyes is virtually useless (even though he has spent all of his adult life being an laissez faire ideologue).  

    To understand Mr. Harper and his party just ask the question, "What is best for Mr. Harper" and that is what he will make happen. Oil money feeds Mr. Harper so he has to bow to that… but other than that it is, "all about me". He is a baby-boomer. Don’t expect different from Mr. Harper.

    To you I wish peace and good health.

    Cheers, Coffee

  • WWC — I suppose we can agree on that, although it was a constant frustration to me when I was blogging proper that I could never seem to nail down exactly what it was this government stood for. Every time I tried to press one of its supporters (the more zealous ones) on the point, they’d waffle and just trot out a bunch of meaningless talking points. Is it small government? I don’t think so. It’s bigger now than it was under the Liberals! Is it modest spending? Nope, another strike there. The last budget was a record-breaker. They seem to want to move to some kind of devolved federalism, maybe… kind of… sort of… Never been able to get a really clear picture what they’ve got in mind there. I think Harper would perhaps ideally like the sort of arrangement where the federal government only took care of the most vitally essential tasks, but I really can see that happening in any practical sense. It’s all well and good in theory, but never seems to work out. So far, their moves have been politically expedient more than anything else and even the breaking down of interprovincial trade barriers is more something that the government is riding, rather than driving. They talk about “democratic reform” but then so did Paul Martin. Oh, he called it a “democratic deficit” I think. I didn’t know what that meant and I’m not much clearer on what Harper wants in that regard other than to “reform” the Senate, which seems like a really half-baked and ill-conceived plan that just works around the edges of the problem(s). I understand they’re for “clean government” and “accountability” and “transparency” and all that. Well, I like sunshine and chocolates too. Perhaps it’s because they’re in a minority, but to me they just seem pretty much like the Liberals, but with a nastier disposition and a good deal more secretive paranoia.  So, it’s a little difficult to really answer your question as to whether they are out of synch with their voting base if we don’t fully comprehend where this party’s head is at. For now at least. I’m sure that given a majority we’d have a much clearer picture of what they’re all about. But ssssshhhhh… then you start getting into “hidden agenda” territory. Which of course, there isn’t one, except when there is one, but nobody is supposed to admit that lest it scare off the voters who might panic at the thought of losing their entitlements.  

  • Zorpheus — Slight correction. I’ll make it before the Dynamic Duo show up to point this out, but Messrs. Patels and Ross are not members of the BTs, although they are both declared Conservative supporters. Well, I think Werner is. What time is it?

  • KC

    Democrats and Conservatives seem similar because they are both constrained by the dominant political culture of their respective countries.   Democrats can’t go as far left as they’d like to because they would never get power.  Conservatives can’t go as far right as they’d like because they would never get power.  But I think at their core a lot of Canadian conservatives idealize a state very similar to what the Republicans do.    This is why I like and trust Democrats more than Conservatives.   I know that actions notwithstanding at their core Conservative knuckles drag a lot more.

  • Martin is correct on many points.  Take for example the following blogs

    Werner Patel
    The Nexus of Assholery
    Proud to be Canadian
    Small Dead Animals
    Mesopotamia West (which now seems to be dead)
    Halls of Macadamia
    The Strong Conservative

    Each one of the bloggers are very popular BT sites, each of these sites fawn over Hard Rightwingers like Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Hannity and Rush.  Many of them like Proud to be Canadian think these people are fair, balanced and objective.  That would be like me claiming Mike Moore is fair, balanced and objective.  Of course these blogger mentioned above will try to paint themselves and the CPoP as equivalent to American Democrats, even though with every other breath they exhale they are trashing the Dems south of the border while praising the extreme hard rightwing of the Neo-Con movement.

    There use to be sane bloggers in the BT, but most have elected to completely remove themselves from the BT’ers, examples of these blogs are Andrew Anderson (Bound by Gravity), James at Progressively Right, Craig Carton (founder of the Green Blogger).  There have been others who elected to leave the BT’ers and with each exit the BT’ers become less and less Conservative and more and more Neo-Conservative.

    Canadians are not interested in Neo-Conservative and are in fact scared shitless of it taking the reigns of power here.  Even Americans have finally woken up to the major disaster that has been caused by the Neo-Conservative movement in  the USA.  The 2008 election will be test to see if Americans will truly and finally reject the insane, fear mongering and Big Daddy Control freaks that Bush/Cheney/Rove/Rummy and others represent.  The BT’ers want the American Neo-Conservative model so badly, but they know they will never be able to sell to Canadians, so they must try to look like American Democrats or Canadian Centrists, but if they get a majority all those pretenses will go out the window.

    America will never be Canada, and Canada should never be America.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    "You’re not going to bedevil me on this thread as well, are you? Look, I’m not “mistaken” because when I’m referring to the “average Conservative” I’m not talking about registered party members. "

    I probably will 🙂

    I agree, self-described Canadian conservatives are very different than either the BTs  or the CPoC and its members. We argree on that.

    Therefore,  the current CPoC government is radically different than its voting base and the rest of Canada. Do we agree on this?

    As for Scott’s concern that I’m obsessed with the BTs, I don’t like scams. It’s that simple.

    Cheers,

    Coffee

  • Scott — Yeah, I noticed he does seem to have an axe to grind there. With all due respect, I’m going to ingore him from here on in unless he has another tune to play. I think his point has been made several times over already.

  • Neil — That may be so, but I can’t help recalling, much to my eternal chagrin, how Howard Dean, an extremely moderate, fiscally conservative Democrat (who opposed the war) was demonized as, how did the Club for Growth put it…? Oh yes, a “tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show.”  These same ridiculous, hyperbolic stereotypes seem to inform the “thinking” of many of our own right-wing pundits at the National Post, CanWest, Sun Media as well as diehard Conservative partisans that populate the BTs, so it seems quite bizarre they would make the comparison between the garden variety Conservative voter (who may be just a vague centrist most of the time) or even self-declared Conservative Party supporters and what they conceive as being a Democrat.  Something is serious out of whack in the equation.  

  • After living in the US for several years I fully agree that US Democrats are about equivalent to the current Canadian Conservative party, in terms of overall party platform.  Sure, there are some far-left Democrats like Kucinich but he is rare.

    For example, Democrats voted for the war in Iraq, are pro-corporate (whatever that really means) in a similar way that the CPC is, are not committed to public health care, etc.

    However, it’s more meaningful to think of it in terms of the political spectrum being shifted to the left in Canada vs. the US, rather than truly equating Democrats and Conservatives.

  • Red (er, Martin):

    You’ll find on the topic of the Blogging Tories, WWC is rather obsessed about it, moreso then the rest of us.

  • You’re not going to bedevil me on this thread as well, are you? Look, I’m not “mistaken” because when I’m referring to the “average Conservative” I’m not talking about registered party members. I don’t have the figure available, but I’m sure that like all of the political parties in Canada, its actual paid membership is a ridiculously small number of people in the broad scheme of things. When I say “average Conservative” I mean those who are self-described as such (whether they’re members or not is irrelevant), who may generally consider themselves to be such and, more importantly, those inclined to support the Conservatives at election time.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    Again,

    Respectfully,

    Red Tory is mistaken.

    *Members* of the CPoC are not the same as *voters*. The BTs are representative of *members* but not CPoC *voters*, which are more to the left.

    A large part of the CPoC is anti-aboriginal, anti-French, anti-Atlantic Canada… and  anti-government. 

    CPoC membership is far right; but CPoC voters are much more moderate… as Canadians in general are much more moderate than the CPoC.

    Their party and their voters are two very different groups.

    Cheers,
    Coffee (aka Walks)

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