Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Shaking the Conservative tree - Targetting soft Tory support

If the polls are to be believed, and I see no reason to doubt them, then Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are within a whisker of forming a majority government. I might not like it, and I'm in good company with roughly 60% of the population, but that doesn't diminish the reality.

Harper and the Conservatives are walking a tightrope, trying to appeal to a broad enough spectrum of Canadians to get them comfortably over that 40% threshold which would almost assure them of being able to govern free of a meddlesome opposition.

In Evangelical or born again fundamentalist Christians, the Tories have a solid base of support that is virtually married to the party and its leader. Any effort to sway these supporters away from Harper would be wasted effort. Despite backing away from issues like abortion, same sex marriage and the death penalty, the Prime Minister's membership in the Christian Missionary Alliance Church obviously helps. The prime minister has fundamentalists hoping to see action on these contentious issues should the Conservatives manage to finally bring home that elusive majority.

So Harper has been able to keep a small but important constituency on side. Besides, he needs their money, their passion and their organizing skill. The socially conservative Christian vote may not be enough on its own to give him a majority, but it definitely helps.

Next are the Libertarians, those who believe government should be smaller and less involved.

This is yet another group married to Harper at the hip, because there is no real alternative. And at least this bunch has been tossed a bone here and there with the defunding of Kairos,  the elimination of funding for court challenges to marginalized citizens. And back in 2008, just after forming a second minority government, Harper showed his Libertarian leanings when the economic statement addressing the global financial crisis did basically nothing.

That's what Libertarian groups want, for the government to stay out of things. That's what the National Citizens Coalition wants, Harper's old stomping grounds. But alas, the Tories only had a minority and faced certain defeat in the house and another election.  An election they would have had to fight with the slogan "Vote for us and we'll do nothing".

That of course would have been electoral suicide, so Harper made the wise political choice and riled another part of his base, the Libertarian 'leave it to the private sector' crowd. Like the fundamentalists though, they're with Harper through thick and thin because, frankly, he's the only hope they have of seeing much less government and a return to Private Health Care in this country.

So what's left?

The socially progressive but fiscally conservative voter. I'm one, call us the common sense lobby. We're all for progressive policy, but we also want the government to fund it without borrowing from our children and grandchildren.

And here, Harper is weak.

To fund government programs he really doesn't believe in, Harper and his Conservative lackeys are borrowing at record levels.

He taxes like a Libetarian and spends like an Über Socialist, this is not a healthy combination.

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