I admit to being fairly baffled by why anyone, beyond the very rich, would follow modern rightwing ideology. I comprehend traditional social conservatism, though I profoundly disagree with it. And get the traditional Toryism as first expressed by men like Edmund Burke. Their attitude was, simply-put, that change is fine as long as it is slow and cautious and takes into consideration national traditions. I can see, to a degree, why certain people, regardless of their economic status, might be attracted to these traditional types of conservatism. However, modern, so-called neo-conservatism is an entirely different kind of animal. I know our citizenry is breathtakingly ignorant, and that fact stands as the only real explanation for why anyone other than the wealthy would buy the new, twisted form of conservatism. But contemporary events demonstrate that even when the hypocrisy of modern conservatism is laid bare, people still seem to hold fast to their ignorance.
In the States we have the so-called Tea-Party crowd. These people are deeply confusing to anyone with a sense of history or economics. The Tea-Party gang continually talk in glowing, almost reverential terms, about the 'founding fathers.' But even a brief reading of US history demonstrates that this historical group were racist elitist who had little or no real interest in freedom, let alone equality. Beside the nagging question of slavery, one must surely be confused by the fact that none of the 'founding fathers' were really democrats. In fact no one with a significant voice in the US revolutionary era advocated universal male suffrage (let alone female suffrage), with the notable exception Thomas Paine. Besides touting the greatness of George Washington and gang, the Tea-Party gang hold Ronald Reagan as their great hero. But again, a short examination of events will demonstrate that despite his reputation, Reagan was no friend of the 'little-guy' or smaller government. The Reagan-Bush era ended with much bigger government than that with which it began and Reagan oversaw the impoverishment of the American middle-class as well as the real power of the US as an powerful exporter nation.
Here in Canada, we have our own version of the Tea-Party and why anyone would support them is equally confusing to me. People like Harper talk a lot about freedom and smaller government but they never actually fight for those things. Instead, they always raise deficits, do little or nothing to shrink government, and continually advocate for an increase in the power of the police-state. Meanwhile Harper's economic strategies seem designed to radically increase the power of large, always unaccountable corporate structures, a decrease in the spending power of average citizens, a continual down-loading of services to the provincial and municipal levels (where they always cost more), a disregard for impending environmental disaster, and the transformation of Canada into a third-world style raw-resource nation with a huge disparity of wealth. Now, I understand why the rich would advocate such an economic course. After all, it is a very simple, though usually unacknowledged fact, that a reduction of economic power of the majority brings, at least in the short term, a commensurate increase in the real economic power of the wealthy. Any study of a third-world economy will show that this is true and it isn't difficult to see how it works.
But then we come to the most confusing of all Canadian political phenomena - Rob Ford. Here is a mean-spirited, bumbling, intellectual challenged guy with a long, demonstrated history of lying, with obvious ties to drug-dealers and gangsters, who still garners a shocking amount of support from average voters. Despite continually criticizing so-called 'elites,' Ford was born with a silver-spoon in his mouth and has never really had to struggle for anything. Meanwhile, Ford's brother Doug, who was rumoured to be a significant drug dealer long before the Globe and Mail reported on the fact, seems to be his bully-boy minder and has now, himself, regressed into a paranoid landscape in which even the Chief of Police is part of the left-wing conspiracy against the Ford family. It is not just that Rob Ford has various substance abuse problems (which seems clear), but that he continually lies to the public that put him in the job, all the while viscously attacking anyone who opposes him, particularly blaming journalists who have a long history of uncovering corruption and malfeasance, two of the things that Ford is supposed to stand against. All the while, Ford has done very little during his time as Mayor in a city which, despite what he continually maintained, was in pretty good shape as large American city go. And as all this goes on, polls indicate that Ford has a very good chance of being reelected.
What the Ford phenomenon seems to tell me is that, as in the US, there is a certain percentage of our population that wallows, even celebrates, in their own ignorance. This group of people seem to have no real interest in the future prosperity of their own nation or community. Rather, they simply use the political field to express their own anger and paranoia, feeling as though they have struggled and gotten a raw deal and they want everyone else to suffer for it. This group has little or no interest in the real rates or causes of crime, no interest in the future of their children or grandchildren, no concern for environmental destruction, and no interest in the actual honesty or honour of their politicians as long as those politicians are expressing an anger and paranoia similar to their own.
The lesson is, of course, that while the actual ideology of neo-conservatism is concerned with creating a corporate state where the majority are uneducated and impoverished, this ideology is really a marketing ploy designed to pray on the ignorance, paranoia, know-nothingism, of a small voting bloc who are quick to forget that their political heroes ride in limousines while decrying the elite, and have no problem writing $90 thousand dollar checks to bribe Senators while simultaneously blaming everyone else for corruption.