Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Conservatives and the cult of victimhood

Having read (again) the Prime Minister’s speech to devoted Harperites in Calgary I am struck by two things. First of all is the utter banality of the speech, a view that has been broadly discussed by most media outlets, including the Con-friendly press, so I won’t belabour the point.

The second theme that stood out for me was the overarching sense of persecution by a list of perceived enemies – the elites, the media, the Liberals, the NDP, unions, criminals, civil servants, the Senate, lobbyists, academics, scientists. It’s as if John Wayne himself was on stage calling on the pilgrims to circle the wagons because the Injuns are attacking.

“We didn’t go to Ottawa to … become part of some elite.”

Really? Being Prime Minister of Canada is the very definition of elite. The Harpers are on the “A” list whether they like it or not. And let’s not forget their associates – Gerstein, Wright, LeBreton, Stewart-Olsen, Findlay, even Duffy and Wallin (once) – all members in good standing of the elite. But no, in the Conservative’s alternate universe the elite are ‘them’, and ‘they’ are, by definition, bad, unless they’re friends, I guess.

“We will not accept that environmental protection must stop economic development.”

Read: Clearly the scientists and environmentalists are out to cripple the economy, to bring this country to its knees. We are, once again, protecting you from ‘them’.  But only to a point. When this government put forward the Navigable Waters Protection Act that stripped federal protection from thousands of freshwater lakes, 89% of the lakes that retained protection were in Tory ridings, many of them in Tony Clement’s own riding – cottage country for Toronto’s own elite and other gazebo lovers.

“We are bringing public service compensation into line with the private sector.”

Read: Those guys are making more money than you (playing the jealousy card) so we are going to cut them back to bring them in line with what you are making. Besides this philosophy being a key component of the race to the bottom I would venture to guess that the attendees in Calgary were generally a pretty well-healed bunch, able to cover the costs of airfares, hotels, meals, etc to hobnob with the party brass. Those costs would be out of reach for many hard-working civil servants, nevertheless the message is clear; ’They’ are ripping you off and we’ll show them who’s boss.

“This is the only party that believes in taking action to keep our children and communities safe”.

Read: If the ‘others’ (Liberals and NDP) had their way our streets would be no-go zones populated with murderers, child molesters, dope-smoking crack heads, and other ne’er do wells, possibly even Conservative bagmen or Rob Ford. The ‘others’ are all wrong. We have seen the light and it is the failed criminal justice system in the US that guides us.  The problem is that when you see everyone as an enemy first you are never going to accept their advice and guidance, no matter how useful that advice would be.

“Unlike other parties we never play one region against another.”

Read: Forget that stuff I said about an Alberta firewall. There is little doubt that this government has been one of the most divisive in modern Canadian history, yet it’s the other guys that are the dividers, it’s the other guys that play off parts of the country against each other. Sadly, it is to laugh.

“…we’re now being blocked in the courts”

Aside from being untrue the message is, again, that external forces are allied against us doing what we know is in the best interests of you, the party faithful. No introspection allowed or acceptance that perhaps things could have been done differently; someone else is doing THIS to US.

And finally, the ultimate outsider proclamation.

“Friends … what it tells me, in terms of such opponents, I couldn’t care less what they say.”

The ‘opponents’ in this statement encompass any and all of the 80% (or whatever) of Canadians who didn’t vote Conservative in the last election. “I couldn’t care less”. The arrogance of those 4 words is palpable. Govern for all Canadians? Not a chance. If you didn’t vote for me “I couldn’t care less” what you think, how you feel, what concerns you. A classic us versus them argument; you don’t count for shit if you’re not in my tribe.

The list goes on.

Now I personally know lots of Conservative supporters yet I don’t know any who subscribe to that level of paranoia, that level of distrust and disdain for anyone who disagrees. And I can’t imagine that even the most ardent  kool-aid drinker, if they thought about it honestly for 10 seconds, believes this bullshit. Yet there he was, rallying the base with the common theme that only he and his MPs stood between them and anarchy, between them and those who would destroy this country and this society, between them and the dark forces of progressivism. They are all out to get us, yet we alone hold the wooden stake, the silver bullet!

So I’m at a bit of a loss here. Just when and how did being a Conservative morph into becoming a victim?