When, a couple of days ago, I described how some Conservative leadership candidates are acting as 21st century, right wing “bolshies“ and challenging the orthodoxies of generally left of centre “elites,” I didn’t put names or face to those elites but this image …
… of four men, all representative of the modern day political “elites” and most, more or less, of a centre left or left of centre political position, and all waving good-by illustrates the point.
The rebellions that brought us the Brexit, and the end of David Cameron: the election of Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton and Obama’s third term; that saw French President François Hollande’s approval rating fall to a record low 4%, and caused Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign after losing a national referendum are spreading. Not every “bolshie” candidate succeeds: Austria, for example, just rejected a far right winger in a presidential election, but, generally, 2016 was a bad year for the establishment., which, often, is the “elites” against which Conservative hopefuls like Kellie Leitch and Maxime Bernie are campaigning.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not waving goodby just yet. She is a stunningly pragmatic politician who has managed to please and antagonize, in one way or another, almost every group in the political spectrum, but it’s not clear that she is guaranteed another term … even though she might have looked like a “shoo-in” in 2015. Her generous, and very liberal instinct to open Germany to Middle Eastern refugees appears to be backfiring …
… as Muslims are being seen to have committed too many criminal outrages and to be ungrateful for the help they are receiving:
Dr Leitch, especially, is running as a defender of (poorly defined) Canadian values, which some will interpret as being, à la President elect Donald Trump, running against foreigners in general and Muslims in particular. I am about 99.99% certain that is untrue, but some voices of the Liberal-left elites will make that case.
Here, in Canada, the Liberal Party has been, traditionally, the voice of the Laurentian Elites. As the National Post‘s Tasha Kheiriddin noted, a little over a year ago, “the cold reality is that for 46 of the last 67 years, Canada’s prime minister has either been born in or held a seat in Quebec,” and even when the prime minister was a Conservative, like Brian Mulroney, or came from or had roots in Ontario, as Mike Pearson and Paul Martin did, he was very much part of the all powerful Laurentian Consensus. Preston Manning, in the 1990s, and Stephen Harper in the 2000s, led the first waves of all out assaults on Canada’s Laurentian Elites, Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leitch, Lisa Raitt and Brad Trost are just following the trail they blazed, and I wish them the very best of luck because Canada needs to change course … to correct its course.
There is a moderate, liberal, middle in Canadian (and American, Australian and British) politics that increasingly means, in the 21st century, people who are naturally inclined towards being Conservative or, at least, Manly Liberal voters. Beginning circa 1960 (I recommend Fred Kaplan’s book: 1959, The Year That Changed Everything) a split emerged between those who held more or less traditional socio-economic and political values and those who wanted a new, fresh, modern approach. In Canada it might have been seen as the transition from Mike Pearson to Pierre Trudeau, in America (earlier than Canada) from Dwight Eisenhower to John F Kennedy and in Britain (later than Canada) from Harold Macmillan to Harold Wilson. The “new, fresh, modern” was, in fact, more a product of the big Madison Avenue advertizing agencies, big, Bay Street, money, and modern communications (TV in the 1950s and 60s) which fed upon a natural human reaction to the pains of the Great Depression and the horrors of World War II, than it was a real, grassroots movement. (Another useful reference is Theodore White’s Making of the President 1960, 1960). It seems to me that some Conservative leadership candidates are trying to restore some of our more traditional small town, Main Street social and economic values …
… which are NOT white or Christian or English or French. Our values are, rather, institutional and they rest on a firm respect for the rule of law in a liberal, democratic, educated, tolerant, hard working, self reliant society.
The liberal, centre-left, Liberal, Laurentian, call it what you like, consensus has been dominant in American, Canadian and European politics for about 150 years. It has, generally, been “good,” providing, broadly, peace, prosperity and social progress. But it is not the only way to have good government. It is possible to be socially moderate, even progressive and still believe in small, carefully focused government and on established community values. It is possible to be liberal and a free enterprise, fiscal hawk. It is possible to be from the educated, progressive, liberal elites, as Dr Leitch certainly is, and still believe, firmly, in “Canadian values.” In fact, it seems to me, that many in the Laurentian Elites have betrayed traditional Canadian values of caution, honesty, thrift and cooperation in favour of whatever “flavour of the month” social cause is popular in the media, and “bolshies‘ like Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch are just trying to move us back towards that moderate, liberal middle.