Recently Faith Goldy opened her show with a monologue about the Canadian conservative movement's attempts to desert social conservatives:
The real life examples she offered made it clear: These "movement conservatives" are trying to ignore us, not give us an inch, hope that we do not notice -- and then hope we still vote for them.
The trouble is, the conservative movement misunderstands just who we “social conservatives” (or, as I prefer, "cultural conservatives") really are. Many Conservative Party voters actually prefer the policies of the NDP or Liberals on areas such as economics. Without the Conservative Party's cultural policies, these same voters would abandon the Conservatives or stay home.
As an example, I am a Catholic, and according to Catholic teaching, you cannot vote for a party that supports an “intrinsic evil," unless a different party supports an issue that is equally evil. War does not qualify as an intrinsic evil, for example, because wars are rarely undertaken simply to kill people. However, killing is the first and ultimate end of abortion.
Obviously, we cultural conservatives can't get everything we want from any political party, but we need to be given something. Ted Byfield gave a speech on this issue, pointing out that the emergence of the Reform Party was a rebellion led by cultural conservatives against the Progressive Conservative Party, which, as its name made clear, was more progressive than it was conservative.
At that same time, William Gairdner famously wrote a response to a PC fundraising letter he'd received, at a time when leader Brian Mulroney was pushing for universal day-care. Gairdner's reply was: “You are too Pink. If you don’t get more Blue, you won’t see any more of my Green!”
Some say that Conservatives must abandon us in order to win. Many of these people are probably the same who said Harper could never win. Patrick Brown appears to have abandoned us here in Ontario. Perhaps that is why, despite the Liberals' radical pseudo-pedophilic sex-ed curriculum providing the Tories with potentially winning issue, he remains low in the polls.
Josh Lieblein is writing a series of articles on policies and candidates that he thinks conservatives can get behind. That’s good: We conservatives must have a robust debate about who our next leader will be, and since we are not Liberals, we do not need to march in lock-step. However, he and I disagree on the causes of conservative infighting.
He suggests that conservatives fight one another because that is all that is left to do. However, my experience volunteering with the PC Party in Ontario is that cultural conservatives are maligned in public by the reds in the party.
Note, for example, how often they'll insist they're not “crazy conservatives” (like we are, presumably.)
We don't all need to agree on every issue, but the Conservative Party needs to be a big tent that includes us and doesn't insult us. Why not simply say, when asked about a traditionally social conservative position such as restrictions on abortion, “That is not the policy I support"?
Cultural conservatives know we need other conservatives in order to win, but they seem not to understand that they need us as well.
The truth is that conservativism has always been fragmented, going back to the days of Cicero and Pompey in Rome; Reagan and Bush; Thatcher and Major. I am waiting to hear the policies of the candidates for Conservative Party leader, and I hope that they have not, in fact, abandoned us.