Tuesday, March 03, 2015

I [Don't] Side With...

My top match is what makes the I Side With graphic, but it's not why I want to post this. I wanted to post this because of my 4th/5th best match: the Conservative Party of Canada (tied with the Bloc, outpacing the Greens, Communists, and Christian Heritage Party). Other classically liberal friends are posting similar results.

I have lots of friends who support Canada's Conservative Party, and a long time ago I used to be a supporter. So I have heard Conservatives talk for years about how libertarians and classical liberals are just ultra-committed, politically impractical Conservatives who will never realise the world that we want*, and if we want to be practical, or when we finally come around, we will vote Conservative.

Sorry, my friends on the right, but as I've been saying for years: that's just not the case. If I decide to get practical and go to the polls, I'll be voting for your opposition.

This makes a lot of sense. Classical liberalism is, historically, a movement of 'the left' - it was opposition to the spread of communism that allied libertarians with the right, and the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago. Nobody claims that conservative movements and libertarians can't work together as well as we can work with the left when our interests align. I think we should work with anyone with whom we share goals toward those goals, so long as we're not causing harm. Clark Ruper calls libertarianism 'radical centrism'. There's room to work together.

1990s Canadian Conservatives (and the federal Liberals) focused on issues libertarians care about (debt, waste, overly intrusive government) while sidelining issues on which we split ('tough on crime', legislation of personal morality, etc.). During this time, and while the Cold War alliance was still fresh, some libertarians (myself included) thought it was worth working together.

But working together isn't the same as pledging loyalty. Conservatives who get worked up about libertarians having 'left the Party' are assuming a natural tie that just isn't there. The further they drift into catering to populist and conservative principles while ignoring issues on which we agree, the further they'll drift down our list of preferences. That shouldn't be so surprising - they expect it with other issue-driven (rather than politics-driven) groups.

None of this is to say that voting in this election is something you should worry too much about. There are far more meaningful ways to practice civic involvement. It's just to point out that perhaps Conservatives shouldn't be hoping that libertarians put on their practical  hats after all.

*Not that I've ever met a Conservative, or anyone (regardless of how practical their priorities) who's gotten their ideal world through politics, or any other means, for all the tenacity with which they cling to that claim.


bertie said...

Hmmm,I see the nuts are still floating around making idiot comments on how to destroy Canada.All I know is people in Canada who are Canadian do not let other people in Canada who are Canadian VOTE Liberal.

Janet Neilson said...

You mean the Liberals, who shrunk the federal government, instituted broad-based tax cuts, and started paying down the debt? Yeah, that was awful. Eyeroll.

It's true that Trudeau II's Liberals are not Chretien's Liberals, but I'm not sure the Conservatives have ever been what many their supporters claim to want.

For people who care more about individual well-being and encouraging civil society and voluntary cooperation than rah-rahing their political team of choice, I think it's probably a wash between the two parties.

Brenton Siddons said...

No, we mean the Liberals that campaigned to abolish NAFTA and the GST but then reneged and used these Conservative measures to pay down Trudeau the Elders massive debt, then cancelled a helicopter contract that not only cost the taxpayer $500 million in cancellation fees but also the lives of innocent airmen....those Liberals