Conservatives Should Forget the “Goldilocks Zone” and Commit to Opposing Bigotry
Opinions / October 17, 2017
“Can gay people enjoy low tax rates?” ask Tory and GOP Senators
Both in the United States and Canada, the dominant conservative parties (the Republicans and the Conservative Party of Canada, respectively) keep bigotry at a peculiar distance—not so close that the party becomes inseparable from it, but not so far that they lose a reliable voting block. The line between conservatism and bigotry has been crossed time and again in the United States, but it has also proven to be relatively thin in Canada several times since 2015.
During the last federal election, the Conservatives left the narrow “goldilocks zone”—where they are not bigoted enough to turn away mainstream voters but just bigoted enough to keep racists and xenophobes—with the niqab debate and “barbaric cultural practices” helpline.
Later, shortly after the events in Charlottesville, Ezra Levant of The Rebel released a video in which he denounced the Alt-Right, saying that it had twisted into something vile. This was also around the same time that Andrew Scheer, new leader of the Conservative Party, said that his party wouldn’t do interviews with Levant’s publication.
Before Sheer’s denouncement, CPC parliamentarians would speak with The Rebel quite often, and it made sense to do so. As a Conservative you want to at least pretend to listen to the social right-wing of your voting base, but not necessarily do anything for it.
If the Republicans and the Conservatives dropped their bigotry towards immigrants, Indigenous people, and the LGBTQ+ community, they’d lose the bigoted part of their base, but would gain the support of a whole bunch of people who just want lower taxes.
The CPC is already moving in this direction, with an asterisk. Before the leadership election was finalized, Maxime Bernier was viewed as highly likely to win the Conservative leadership race. Bernier was considered somewhat of a libertarian, and would have solidified the party as being pro-marijuana legalization and anti-”citizenship test”. Of course, he didn’t like the idea of supply management, but that’s libertarianism for you.
It’s not like believing in small government and lower taxes is incompatible with social progressivism. PragerU, a right-wing Youtube channel, surprisingly blamed the social injustice faced by Indigenous Americans on the federal government. Just like Canada, the U.S. treats Indigenous people like children, giving them no control over their own land and generally attempting to control their lives. It makes sense that a right-winger would frame this as symptomatic of a too-large government.
Before Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, religious groups didn’t pay much attention to politics, so parties did not have to pander to them as the Republicans and the CPC do now. It wasn’t until the Roe v. Wade decision that their interest started to materialize, and even then most Christians still had to be convinced to engage with politics. Much of this resulted from the work of the Moral Majority organization, which was mobilized in 1979 for the election of Ronald Reagan. Even George H.W. Bush was, at the time, considered a “social moderate” who had to be brought around to adopt an anti-abortion stance.
If the Republicans and the Conservative Party of Canada want to expand their potential voting base, they should just drop the bigotry. The GOP have backed themselves into a corner with this stuff, making their ideology inseparable from racism, anti-intellectualism, and sexism. The CPC is doing a much better job, removing opposition to gay marriage from their platform and hopefully maintaining the practice of dropping nutjobs from their party roster.