As a social democrat I may be prone to seeing the virtues in progressives and the vices in conservatives. But I challenge any objective observer to deny that a streak of madness hasn’t overtaken the conservative political world.
Consider the UK. Run by the Conservatives for the past dozen years its government has recently collapsed into chaos. It has had three prime ministers in three months. These include the buffoon Boris Johnson, the ideological fanatic Liz Truss, and finally Rishi Sunak who is now tasked with restoring some sanity to his party.
U.S. conservatives seem to have abandoned reality altogether. Following one of their best-run elections ever, with an irrefutable result, a majority of them have simply decided, without the slightest evidence, that it was all a fake. That their man, despite clearly losing, actually won. Why do they believe such nonsense? Because one certifiable narcissist wants them to.
Our new federal Conservative leader is somewhat more rational, but has cosied up to insurrectionists, promised to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada (something he wouldn’t have the power to do) and wants to make Canada a “blockchain capital” to sate his passion for cryptocurrency.
The conservative leader closest to me is the new leader of the UCP and premier of Alberta, Danielle Smith. This good lady seems to have never heard a conspiracy theory she didn’t like (her staff once told her she has no “crazy radar”). As I have pointed out before, among other things she has extolled Ivermectin as a remedy for Covid and is proposing a “Sovereignty Act” which will allow Alberta to ignore federal laws it disapproves of. Her predecessor, Jason Kenney, warned us that if he stood down the lunatics (his word) would take over his party and who am I to argue with the former head of the UCP.
And what about their progressive counterparts? Do they too seem to be losing their minds? Well, again as a social democrat, I may be prone to seeing the best side of progressives , but I challenge any objective observer to deny that our progressive leaders aren’t more sane than their conservative counterparts.
The UK’s leader of the opposition, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, is a highly respected British barrister, a Queen’s counsel, a Knight of the Order of the Bath, and former head of the Crown Prosecution Service. When he served as the latter, he prosecuted three Labour MPs for offences relating to false accounting of parliamentary expenses scandal. A solid, fair-dealing British bloke.
As for the U.S. what can one say. After Trump any president would have seemed mature. But Joe Biden is more than that; he is in fact the epitome of an honest, reasonable, decent American male who provides a much-needed steady hand.
As for our federal leader … well, I’ll have to hedge a bit here. Justin does have his flaky moments. Not as flaky as Poilievre perhaps, but now my bias might be showing. He is at least a much more compassionate politician, and there’s some kind of sanity in that.
Here in Alberta, it’s no contest. Smith’s counterpart on the progressive side is the estimable Rachel Notley, perhaps the most gifted politician in the country (and I don’t care if my bias shows now—there’s a wide margin for error here).
So for the jurisdictions of most interest to Canadians, the pattern is clear. An epidemic of madness has infected conservatives. As to the cause, I can only speculate. In both the U.S and the UK it has much to do with working class voters, angry and fearful at being left behind by a globalizing and automating world, desperately electing politicians who offer scapegoats and easy answers. In Canada the derangement is less obvious perhaps … except in Alberta. In this province, politics has always been a bit loony and Alberta is now faced with a world turning against its major industry. This could lead to the loss of high-paying jobs, big profits and massive government revenues, and that’s enough to drive anyone slightly mad.