Sunday, May 28, 2017

On changing opposition

While there will be plenty more to discuss about how the Conservatives' choice of Andrew Scheer as their new leader, I'll offer a few preliminary thoughts now - starting with a warning about knee-jerk reactions.

We shouldn't presume that Scheer's apparent lack of current definition will last long: the Libs are obviously wasting no time in trying to define him, while the fruits of the Cons' fund-raising machine will surely kick in quickly in response.

But nor should we presume that his being young means that he'll have multiple election campaigns to grow into the position.

While the standard take seems to be that Scheer is the new version of Stephen Harper, I'd think the better comparison and cautionary tale for Scheer is Joe Clark: a young and little-known compromise candidate whose missteps as a leader will be amplified by the lack of many people particularly committed to him within his own party.

On the balance, Scheer's election looks to be relatively good news compared to the alternatives - not because of his merits as a candidate, but due to the greater electoral and policy risks posed by the alternative.

I'd considered Bernier the most dangerous of the Cons' potential leaders, being comparatively more likely to assemble a winning coalition in a near-term federal election (particularly by being able to win votes as a native son in Quebec), to make reckless policy choices if he managed to take power, and to be the main focus of the next federal election in a way that causes the race to polarize between the Libs and Cons.

In contrast, Scheer's starting point involves a distinct lack of meaningful policy priorities or avenues to build support beyond the Cons' base.

That doesn't mean he can't change matters with time. After all, Harper managed at various times to win seats with appeals to Quebec voters and immigrant communities who were far outside his initial core of supporters.

But for now, Scheer is essentially a blank sheet of stationery with Reform Party letterhead. And it remains to be seen whether there's anything he can write on the page to be seen as a viable candidate for power.

5 comments:

  1. This might surprise you but I think Scheer is more dangerous then Bernier.

    Yes Bernier is from Quebec, but his actually policies would make him toxic to Quebecers, such as his position on health transfers, and supply management.

    Bernier didn't even win his own riding during the leadership contest I hear.

    Bernier was simply too easy to paint as a threat to healthcare.

    Scheer on the hand is going to be targeted for his social conservatism, but he's a moderate social conservative, he's not Trost, he's more akin to Steven Harper a social conservative who won.

    Scheer isn't going to try a pick a fight with the LGBT community.

    No Scheer is going to unite both social conservatives and Libertarian wings, and what remains of the ref tories, by targeting a group they all hate for good reason, as do many people outside the conservative party.

    He's going to go after the violent, antifreedom of speech, SJWs on university campuses, the ones the deplatform anyone they disagree with, including people on the left who don't 100% agree with them on or who have ever said anything they they don't like.

    It was one of Scheer's promises, and it's a winning plan to unite the party against a common enemy aside from Trudeau, while side stepping poisonous social conservative issues.

    Add in some basic stuff like promising balanced budgets, getting rid of corporate welfare, and you have someone who could be a real threat to Trudeau.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll see, but my expectation is that Scheer will end up walking back the threat to de-fund universities. That may have played well in the leadership campaign, but I have my doubts that the Cons can build a margin of victory on voters who want to punish researchers for administrators' determinations about student safety (particularly in a country without its own Fox News to blow stories out of proportion).

      Delete
    2. Sub-Boreal4:57 PM

      I hope you're right about this. The fact that Bernier and Scheer were the top two finishers ratifies the extremism of the post-merger Conservative Party, paralleling the extremism of the post-Tea Party GOP. The great danger for the NDP is that this makes them very vulnerable to Liberal front groups urging strategic voting, risking coalescence of the type of stable duopoly that makes the U.S. so dysfunctional, and frustrates the growth of Left third parties.

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    3. That's certainly the danger if Scheer is able to consolidate a Harper-like hold on the Cons. But if not, then he may offer the NDP the opportunity to emerge as the primary alternative to the Libs - undercutting both the Cons' default expectation and the Libs' preferred strategy to rely on strategic voting.

      Delete
  2. This might surprise you but I think Scheer is more dangerous then Bernier.

    Yes Bernier is from Quebec, but his actually policies would make him toxic to Quebecers, such as his position on health transfers, and supply management.

    Bernier didn't even win his own riding during the leadership contest I hear.

    Bernier was simply too easy to paint as a threat to healthcare.

    Scheer on the hand is going to be targeted for his social conservatism, but he's a moderate social conservative, he's not Trost, he's more akin to Steven Harper a social conservative who won.

    Scheer isn't going to try a pick a fight with the LGBT community.

    No Scheer is going to unite both social conservatives and Libertarian wings, and what remains of the ref tories, by targeting a group they all hate for good reason, as do many people outside the conservative party.

    He's going to go after the violent, antifreedom of speech, SJWs on university campuses, the ones the deplatform anyone they disagree with, including people on the left who don't 100% agree with them on or who have ever said anything they they don't like.

    It was one of Scheer's promises, and it's a winning plan to unite the party against a common enemy aside from Trudeau, while side stepping poisonous social conservative issues.

    Add in some basic stuff like promising balanced budgets, getting rid of corporate welfare, and you have someone who could be a real threat to Trudeau.

    ReplyDelete