Grant Rants

When is a conservative not a conservative? The US election and Ezra Levant.

- November 7th, 2012

“I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.” – Will McAvoy, “The Newsroom”

So it’s four more years for President Barrack Obama. I’m not terribly shocked. I knew it would be close – Obama has a slim edge in the popular vote – but I did not expect he would walk away with such a huge electoral college lead.

Obama’s victory has some conservatives in the US and in Canada totally confused. How, how, how did the devil himself win the election? Why would more than half of Americas vote for a guy who will “radically change” what America is and destroy everything America has been and could be?

One such conservative pundit is my Sun Media colleague Ezra Levant, who appears somewhat baffled by Obama’s victory and laments what he figures will be the dismantling of America’s “empire of freedom.”

I think it’s a safe bet to say that America will still be America in four years time, its constitution and legacy and values still intact.

Sherlock Holmes often criticized Dr. Watson for seeing but not observing. Ezra is doing the same thing. He sees the results but cannot fathom why anyone would vote for Obama.

What he doesn’t see is that while he likes the word “conservative” what that term means isn’t what it used to mean in the US and increasingly in Canada.

Being a conservative used to mean advocating small government, but understanding society cannot let those who have fallen simply lay in the gutter. Encourage charity, but understand sometimes that isn’t enough. It meant building social programs, but ensuring they worked rather than become a black hole for tax dollars. Foster private business and a free market, but knowing that the free market is on its own unkind and citizens may need help. It meant respecting traditions as important, but knowing when the time had come to let them go. Allow change, but in a way that minimized the harm that sweeping change can sometimes cause. It recognized that investment in science and education was the foundation for better future business, military, and economic growth.

That isn’t what conservative means to a lot of self identifying conservatives these days. Increasingly, it means turning the clock back to a mythological past where everything was sunshine and rainbows and everyone went to the same church and kept their doors unlocked and gay people knew enough to shut up. It means, all too often, adhering to an intolerant religious literalism that yearns not for a secular democracy (which is what the American Found Fathers created) but a quasi-democratic theocracy, where the Church decides social policy. Non-believers and the wrong kind of believers are ok so long as they don’t  have political influence.  It’s become a movement that is anti-science, anti-contraception, anti-women in many ways,  anti-gay, and anti-intelligence. Where once being conservative meant science and intelligence were things to be fostered for the future, they are regarded with suspicion. (Notice the anti-evolution and anti-global warming crowd come from only one slice of the political spectrum.) “Intellectual” is  a dirty word. It’s the ideology that consistently produces nuts who talk about “legitimate rape” and who make insane claims that a woman’s body “shuts down” its reproductive system to prevent pregnancy during rape. And these ideas are discussed SERIOUSLY instead of being dismissed for what they are: the rantings of a madman.

It’s an idea that wants military might for it’s own sake, counts it only in terms of the numbers of ships, planes and bullets, but has no idea how it ought to be used. It’s a political idea that appeals only to the heart, never the mind, that prizes action on instinct rather than careful consideration. It is, above all things, an idea that becomes increasingly small, increasingly loud, increasingly out of touch, and increasingly pigmy minded.

Of course, saying such things will result in being called a “leftist” or a “liberal”, as though both words must mean one is a Stalinist of some kind. A liberal is not a person with a different political view with whom you can disagree but work with for the greater good, but an enemy at best, a traitor at worst. Unless you share their ideology, you hate freedom, democracy and capitalism. Dissent is not something that can be tolerated. Even if you happen to be what I guess could be called a “classical conservative,” you’re not part of the “in” crowd should you hold a different view on a political or social issue.  And when that happens, when the fingers start wagging and the word “liberal” used as a curse, my point has been proven.

A big part of the reason that more than half of Americans voted for Obama is because they reject this mutated version of conservationism. The GOP of 2012 is not the GOP of Bush Sr., or Reagan (who weirdly has become a conservative saint even though a lot of his policies upset the people who define the GOP and Tea Party today. His legacy is lost in a mythological history created by those who call themselves “conservative.”) The GOP and the Tea Party are the ones who claim even today that Obama is a secret Muslim (he’s a Christian. And the fact that the constitution says there is no religious test for office is lost on them I guess) that he was born in Kenya (he wasn’t) and that is a some kind of socialist/communist nut bag (his policies are all well right of anything seen in Canada or Europe which have actual socialist parties that are regularly elected.).

Even those who might otherwise have voted Romney (check out some of the exit polling) didn’t. Why? Because while they liked his economic ideas, particularly in attacking the deficit and reducing the size of government, Romney and his party were so out of touch socially they lost voters. By being against gay marriage, being anti-immigrant, by being anti-poor, Romney lost to a president he could have beaten.

In short, the GOP are out of touch and while they continue to appeal to a large segment of Americans, these “neo conservative” ideas don’t fly with enough of them to win the White House. And they won’t fly and unless the GOP and those who consider themselves conservative grow up, reclaim the legacy that true political conservatism is, let go of the religious zealotry, worship of ignorance and mythological history, they will become increasingly marginalized.

That’s what Ezra isn’t seeing.

Categories: News, politics, the stupid it burns

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5 comments

  1. David Fowler says:

    Yes, the Republicans of today are not what they used to be. And the Canadian Conservatives of today are not the Progressive Conservatives of the past. Ezra Levant embodies this “new” conservatism in Canada. Here is a man who saw nothing terrible in Western soldiers pissing on the dead bodies of enemy soldiers in Afghanistan; a man who was angry when Attawapiskat appeared in the news- not angry that human beings were living in such misery, but angry at the NDP “troublemaker” who went there and broke the story. We can only hope that Canadians will reject this kind of “conservatism” that is growing in this country.

    • howdydo2 says:

      You go fight in a war and let me know how you feel about the people that shoot at you and try to kill you. As a soldier you have no concern for them, they are the enemy, they are what is stopping you from getting home. Do not bring soldiers into your debate about government ideals. Leave them out of it.

      • grant.lafleche says:

        First, a solider or soldiers did something reprehensible, they are as open to criticism as anyone else. We should give our troops the highest degree of respect as long as they conduct themselves honourably, which most do.

        Second, military spending, how we choose to spend money on the military and how we choose to engage them aboard are political ideas that MUST be debated.

        Third, there are no sacred cows on this blog.

      • David Fowler says:

        My Dad fought in WWII; he’s no longer here to ask, but I think I know him well enough to say that he would be disgusted at the idea of pissing on the body of an enemy. I’m extremely lucky to have never had to fight a war. If I had to kill someone to save my own life, I KNOW I would not piss on his dead body. Your comment that the enemy is what is stopping you from getting home is quite true; but after you have killed him so that you can get home, how does pissing on him do anything but display your vulgarity? And no, I will not leave soldiers out of this discussion. The article is about conservatism and specifically Ezra Levant. In our local newspaper Levant ran a column (several months ago) defending the act of pissing on dead soldiers. The most ridiculous part of his column was his assertion that “they” fight dirty while “we” are moral and ethical in war. Get it? – the man says pissing on the enemy is moral and ethical. By bringing this up in the discussion I was able to show how low the “new” conservatives can sink. Levant disgusts me. It doesn’t surprise me that people with brains like his exist, but it does bother me that many of them end up in positions of power. Fortunately for us in Canada the real far-out whackos (like those who talk of “legitimate” rape and god intending life to start through a rape) would not be taken seriously – at least I hope not.

  2. Andy Scott says:

    The US Republican party is in trouble right now. In order to be put forward as the parties Presidential Candidate you have to sell your soul to the extreme Republicans who as you point out believe that rape is Gods will, gay marriage causes hurricanes, immigrants should self deport, women’s bodies can magically repel rape sperm and that women shouldn’t be the ultimate decision maker regarding their own bodies.

    Clearly most of the Republican candidates don’t actually believe any of this rubbish (prior quotes by Romney show this) but once a candidate is decided upon; to go against everything your platform was built upon makes you look like your flip-flopping and also alienates a good number of your own party.

    I doubt that Romney is quite as bad as he came across but in the eyes of many moderates he was tainted very early on by his association with Extremists within his party.

    I hope the Republicans reflect upon their loss and stop believing tainted media outlets such as FOX News who rather then saying these ideas are extreme and wrong. Suggest these peoples ideas are OK but they should not express them to much as it turns voters away. Hiding these extreme ideologies won’t help, the simple fact is unless they distance themselves from the radical members of their party we will be sat here in 4 years time talking about an even bigger loss as lets face it, its incredible that President Obama won this election with employment and the economy being where it is…. He has hardly covered himself in glory during his last term.

    The Republican Party based their whole election manifesto on ‘vote for Romney, he is not Obama’. Unfortunately people flipped this around and thought ‘Obama may not be who we would choose normally, but at least he isn’t supporting extreme Republican Ideas’.

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