Today, we're going to be talking about trust and why mainstream conservative leaders don't have it. It's an extremely timely conversation, especially after the ludicrous exercise in corporate rebranding that was this past weekend's PC Party of Ontario convention.
It is true that we have the most entitled, spoiled, and self-obsessed voters in history, and getting them to trust anyone is nearly impossible.
It is also true that we have the most robotic, overly coached, and visibly guarded conservative leaders in history, trying to appear "mainstream" and focusing on Keeping Taxes Low while struggling to maintain a restive base to whom Donald Trump looks increasingly attractive.
Establishment conservatives, the people who supervise and handle these non-humans masquerading as "leaders", are supremely convinced of their own ability to hoodwink not only their base, but "middle-class" voters and even traditional Liberals into believing that a conservative party could ever be something mainstream, something that could be given the benefit of the doubt.
So they tell Patrick Brown to cozy up to union leaders, copy Kathleen Wynne's campaign ads and Justin Trudeau's catchphrases, be photographed on elephants in India, and show how open he is to carbon pricing. All this, they tell us, will "build a coalition of voters."
They really, really, really mean it this time when they say THIS TIME, it's a new PC Party of Ontario.
And then, of course, the old PCPO reveals itself. The squabbling on social media over nomination and party exec races. The easily bruised egos. The back-channel access that reveals exactly what the pecking order is, was, and always has been. And, most damnable of all, the running to tell all of the above to enemy "journalists" at the Toronto Star.
But then, what would you expect from a Progressive Conservative party that has been around for centuries and has never been able to answer the original, existential question of what they stand for?
I don't know who these chuckleheads think they're fooling with their public proclamations of unity or their new logos with red and green in them or their insistence that voters are going to be more interested in the Liberal legacy of scandal and waste and high taxes and deficits and unemployment than the latest PCPO follies come election time. Possibly, they are fooling themselves.
Everyone else can point to four provincial elections and ten years of resolute opposition to everything Stephen Harper did that suggests otherwise.
The sad fact is, if the establishment didn't despise themselves and their conservatism and weren't insanely jealous of their Liberal friends, there would be no need for them to engage in these clever-dick antics. They actually could count on their base to support them. They wouldn't have to apologize for whatever Mike Harris did twenty years after the fact. They wouldn't have to constantly put out friendly fires. People would trust them.
But that would require a little bit of honesty, and being comfortable with who, and what, they really are.