American “conservatism” today is largely a byproduct of Republican talking points and campaign tactics and strategy. Elitist liberals are effeminate snobs who are disconnected from reality; by contrast conservatives are real and unburdened by facts. It is talking points such as this that are conservatism’s first principles and not anything that Burke or even William F. Buckley wrote. In this sense the Republican party is literally writing dissent out of the script of what it means to be conservative. Something similar is happening to Canadian conservatism under Harper. Harper is redefining what it means to be a conservative and he is doing so by borrowing liberally from the Republican party. Indeed, it is hard to find a Conservative talking point or tactic that has not been borrowed from the Republicans. Republicans warned about “cutting and running”; Conservatives followed suite. The Republicans equated a government surplus as over-taxation; the Conservatives followed suite. The Republicans portrayed Kerry as effeminate elitist snob; the Conservatives did the same with Dion. The Republicans baited Michael Dukakis and kept him off message by telling out right lies about him; the Conservatives did the same with Dion and Dion’s Green Shift. The Bushies were all about message control; so is Harper.
This is not an entirely academic exercise. Rhetorical crap has consequences. Just look at Bush. Just look at what might have happened had McCain been elected and then died in office. Bush and Palin are not conservatives in any traditional sense. However their success within the Republican Party can only be accounted for by saying that each is an outgrowth of Republican rhetorical crap. Bush and Palin’s only redeeming features are that they fit the stereotype. Bush and Palin are not the authors of the Republicans decline. The Republican Party has played Frankenstein and Bush and Palin are their monsters. Harper also fancies himself a Dr. Frankenstein. The willingness of Conservatives to stomp on informed opinion and validate idiocy has the potential to cause Canada great harm.