Notes on recent sightings of conservatism - or "conservatism":
~There was some back-and-forth in the comments this week, starting with the need for Republicans to take the Senate and House in 2022, which prompted the obvious response that they took everything in 2016 and, Congress-wise, had little to show for it, which in turn invited the riposte that at least they prevented the Democrats from doing anything.
Is that the best that can be hoped for? Conservatives around the anglosphere seem to have accepted a not entirely healthy distinction for democratic societies - that left victories and right victories are unequal. When the left wins, it's full steam ahead; when the right wins, you're at a standstill until the pendulum swings and the left comes roaring back. As I put it a decade ago, the right in office is the equivalent of the junior boys at English boarding schools who got a farthing or some such for warming the seats of the unheated toilets until the prefects were ready to assume their positions: conservatives have gotten good at keeping the seats warm. And conservative voters are expected to be content with that because anything more red-blooded is unfeasible.
~The United Kingdom has now had conservative-led government for eleven years (ie, the length of Mrs Thatcher's entire premiership) and its only notable accomplishment has been the legislation of same-sex marriage - which Blair, Brown, Miliband, Corbyn or Starmer would have been happy to deliver, and without being such a smug self-regarding preening little pill about it as David Cameron. If you cry "What about Brexit?", well, that was done in the teeth of two Tory PMs' opposition and the third's rather subtler positioning. And, insofar as Brexit has happened at all, it was driven by the energies of non-Tories such as Farage.
But here we are in the twelfth year of alleged Conservative ministry, and my old chum Boris's big idea for the current G7 is a "Marshall plan for Africa" to assist its governments in developing "renewable energy" to lower their "carbon footprints". Given that "green energy" is a notorious taxpayer-fleecing boondoggle in jurisdictions with high levels of public integrity (Germany, Scandinavia), one awaits with interest the solar-paneling of the rooftops of presidential palaces, and indeed the attractive wind turbines flanking their Swiss safe-deposit boxes.
~So much for UK conservatism. What of Canada? The two most rock-ribbed "right-wingers" in the Dominion's politics, Doug Ford of Ontario and Jason Kenney of Alberta, have taken the position that conservatism is an indulgence you can't afford in a pandemic: Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, so there are no conservatives in lockdowns.
At the federal level, the cautious and eventually stalled incrementalism of Stephen Harper was followed by the unprincipled hollowness of Andrew Scheer and, after his predictable failure, the everything-must-go massive-storewide-clearances of Erin O'Toole. Even so, I was startled by a tweet from Michelle Rempel Garner, an Alberta MP whom I knew only as an occasionally lively thorn in the side of Justin & Co. Ms Rempel Garner was responding to the appalling killings of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, which within minutes had been seized on by the media-left alliance for the usual purposes, notwithstanding that the perp does not appear to fit the desired narrative. Nevertheless, the outbreak of vehicular "Islamophobia" was taken by Michelle Rempel Garner as the perfect opportunity for an express checkout:
I humble myself and ask forgiveness, and seek to make things right.
I have privilege; I am cis/straight/white. But I am also a woman who works in a system dominated by white maleness.
But no excuses. I will do what I can.
Seeing the above at the great Kate McMillan's website, I assumed it was a giant leg-pull by Ms Rempel Garner, as did many other of Miss McMillan's readers. So, as she clarified, no, sorry, it's for real. The Tory member's Twitter account now shows her pronouns: "she/her" (at the time of writing). In 2019 it was a big deal when Kamala Harris, at the start of a Democrat debate, announced her pronouns. Less than two years later, "conservative" politicians want a piece of the pronoun action too. Already a key player in O'Toole's shadow cabinet, the she/her move could make Michelle a shoo-in for Deputy Prime Minister.
Except, of course, that that would require the Tories to win an election.
~So much for the Senior Dominion. What of Australia? James Allan has a good go at ScoMo in the current Speccie, which includes a detail I'd forgotten - that the Aussie PM's intolerance of dissent extends to clobbering "Craig Kelly for referring to peer-reviewed studies of Ivermectin's worth as a treatment" for ChiCom-19. Mr Kelly lost his Facebook and Instagram pages because of his perceived enthusiasm for Ivermectin - but he also lost his membership of Australia's right-of-center party. He now sits as an independent MP, because in Publichealthistan there can be no questioning of government science.
I said many years ago that when Democrats win they're in power; when Republicans win they're in office. But even that barely covers what's gone on this fourteen months. Professor Allan has a bon mot from Marcus Aurelius:
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
A lot of official mainstream conservatism has joined "the ranks of the insane".
~I'll be back tonight with the latest episode of our current Tale for Our Time: George Orwell's Animal Farm. This weekend we'll have the latest addition to my anthology of video poetry.
Tales for Our Time and Steyn's Sunday Poems are special productions of The Mark Steyn Club, now in its fifth year. I'm thrilled by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. My only regret is that we didn't launch it eighteen years ago, but better late than never. You can find more information about the Club here - and, if you've a pal who might be partial to this sort of thing, don't forget our special Gift Membership.
Oh, and if you're seriously chafing as Year Two of the Permanent Abnormal grinds on, there's no better cure than a berth on our Third Annual Steyn Cruise sailing the Med this fall - and with Conrad Black, Michele Bachmann, John O'Sullivan and Douglas Murray among our shipmates. We'll be attempting some seaboard versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Tales for Our Time, our Sunday Poem and other favorite features. If you're minded to give it a go, don't leave it too late: as with most travel and accommodations, the price is more favorable the earlier you book.
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