Together we stand...
By Gord Gekko
This is a unique time to be a conservative for me. At the age of 25 I see conservatism winning battles all over North America. I even sometimes see the media cover us without their ever present bias (although this is still quite rare). I see two governments in province in Canada who are fulfilling their conservative promises. When I started writing this column in 1993 I honestly thought we conservatives would always be in the wilderness, that it was inconceivable that we would clear the trees.
Yet now that our movement has more adherents, I see that we are continuing to divide against ourselves. I see the purges across North America. Who is more conservative, Progressive Conservative or Reform Party? A group of Texas Republicans trying to ensure that every delegate to the convention is pro-life who is more conservative? "You dont believe everything that I believe so you cant actually be a real conservative "
Its enough that the media divides us into a myriad of groups; neo-con, extreme right-wing, religious right, traditional Tories, libertarian conservatives, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives the list goes on and on. Ask yourself though, what is the common indivisible element among all these groups? They are conservatives.
I myself am pro-choice. Does that make me less conservative than a member of the religious right? I am a laissez-faire capitalist. Does that make me more conservative than the Progressive Conservatives and the Reform Party? What kind of conservative am I?
I have often said that the only force that can defeat conservatism is conservatism. The facts are on our side so we enjoy an inherent advantage. We use rationality to make our decisions, not emotion. We stand for individualism in an era when conforming to their beliefs is the norm. Yet we often take two steps back when trying to go forward. Why?
It is because conservatives, just like the left when it fractured in the 60s, is made up of a coalition of groups who have the same fundamental beliefs, but fight when it comes to even the smallest issues that we disagree on. Say what you will about leftists, when they disagree in meetings, either they walk-out and hug a year later, or they all start crying and hug right there. While I hardly suggest that conservatives adopt this teary approach to relations, we might learn a lesson from our adversaries on the left.
So while the solution for a libertarian conservative and a member of the religious right is not to hug each other (although I would dearly pay to see that), it is feasible for us to relax our strident opposition to some of the beliefs of our fellow conservatives. Do remember that the person across from you, while they may not be as ideologically pure as you, is still a conservative. Use rational argument to try to sway them, or do not try at all. Engaging in party purges or purity tests helps one group, and that is the liberals of the world.
In 1960 Ayn Rand spoke on conservatism in relation to liberals who deny the truth of what they believe, and those words still resonate in 1996. "Immoral as this might be, what is one to think of men who evade the issue for fear of discovering their goal is good? What is the moral stature of those who are afraid to proclaim they are the champions of freedom? What is the integrity of those who outdo their enemies in smearing, misrepresenting, spitting at, and apologizing for their own idea? When men share the same basic premise, it is the most consistent one who win." If we forget why we are fighting for our beliefs then we are the immoral ones.
Being a conservative does not mean upholding the status quo. The status quo changes whether we like it or not. We must argue from some unity. We have to understand that our house has some members who do not believe exactly what we do. We are the philosophy of everyone, not a Balkanized splinter, like the one that they try to create. Our argument must be consistent and based on the same fundamental philosophy that we all believe.
And if we do not? Then we will be defeated and worse, by ourselves. The left is coalescing again. Their recent defeats was not enough to put the stake in their heart. If we give them the opportunity to present a united front, one that can take advantage of infighting by conservatives, then we deserve everything that is coming.
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