“ideology” \ˌī-dē-ˈä-lə-jē, -ˈa-, ˌi-\ a systematic body of concepts, especially those of a particular group or political party—Merriam-Webster
The word “ideology” was coined by the French philosopher Destutt de Tracy. Originally it meant the science of ideas; but shrewd politicians like Napoleon Bonaparte corrupted it to mean something more pejorative, even sinister.
This is unfortunate because politicians professing to be free from ideology are in fact admitting that they’re rudderless.
For them politics is simply a contest for power which will be won by capturing the issues of the day in catchy slogans and using them to bamboozle citizens to vote for them.
The trouble with slogans is that unlike ideologies they’re meaningless and/or misleading and provide no action plan for the future.
Speaking of meaningless…
Jason Kenney is working tirelessly to merge the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party into the Free Enterprise coalition.
His slogan (for now) is Restore the Alberta Advantage. How? By beating Rachel Notley’s NDP in the next election and destroying everything the NDP has done over the last four years.
Brian Jean is squarely on board with Jason Kenney’s destructive mission except he says he’ll replace the carbon tax, not eliminate it (smart man, why get rid of a tax after the public has gotten used to it, just repurpose the extra revenue to suit your own agenda).
The theme of destruction is important because it indicates that Alberta’s conservatives are moving along the same spectrum of conservatism that’s engulfed the United Kingdom and the USA.
George Monbiot, the British writer and political activist, says conservatism has three forms:
- inclusive conservatism which seeks to protect things of value for everyone’s benefit (eg wildlife, works of art and significant institutions like universal healthcare);
- exclusive conservatism which resists changes that would help the majority in order to protect the privileges enjoyed by the minority (this necessitates opposing things like progressive taxation and the social safety net); and
- something that calls itself conservatism but is “nothing of the kind”. Destructive conservatism destroys everything that stands in the way of profit-taking (eg norms, values, institutions, and public protections).
Alberta conservatism has evolved from the Peter Lougheed’s conservatives, who fell somewhere between the first and second forms of conservatism, and is now closing in on the third form of conservatism, destructive conservatism.
“Destroy the NDP, destroy all they’ve created, erase socialism from every corner of the province”.
It’s a slogan mindlessly repeated by Kenney/Jean supporters with no thought about what it might mean.
Destructive conservatism leads to bizarre outcomes.
- When BC’s Christy Clark announced she’d retaliate against Trump’s new tariffs on softwood by imposing a $70/tonne carbon tax on thermal coal—an act that would cost Alberta 2000 jobs and $300 million/year in lost revenue and violates the Canadian Free Trade Agreement—Kenney held his nose and said Clark’s government was preferable to the NDP.
- When Saskatchewan’s premier Brad Wall promised incentives to Alberta energy companies to lure them to Saskatchewan—a move that would further damage Calgary’s economic viability—Kenney and Jean were fine with it.
- When Scott Thon, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Energy (yes, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway) said Alberta found the right balance in transitioning away from fossil fuels and his company would continue to be a long-term investor and Cenovus, CNRL and Suncor announced oilsands investments in excess of $28 billion, Kenney and Jean said the NDP’s climate strategy was driving away investment.
There’s only one explanations for this kind of behavior. Destructive conservatives don’t care who gets hurt as long as they win the next election.
Anyone who doesn’t understand the danger of voting for the Free Enterprise coalition whose sole raison d’etre is to destroy the government that went before it need only look south of the border to see why this is a spectacularly stupid idea.