Political Shift: Progressive Conservatives and Blue Liberals Struggle to find a home

The 2011 election gave rise to the NDP in a way that nobody could have predicted. It left Liberals wandering the political wilderness. Our strategy in 2011, as it often has been was to attract NDP voters to the Liberals to stop Harper. With the NDP rise in Quebec, NDP votes went where they belonged. With the NDP.

What is interesting, is that it provided Harper with a new strategy that may have well contributed to him gaining his much sought after majority.  Traditionally Liberals have claimed that a vote for the NDP is a vote for the conservatives, and that progressives should unite by voting Liberal. As the political tides changed, the new argument for the Conservatives was that blue Liberals and Progressive Conservatives that aren’t comfortable with the economic position of the NDP should unite by voting Conservative because a vote for the Liberals is a vote for the NDP. As a blue Liberal, or Progressive Conservative myself, it was a good argument.

Liberals have to move away from the old strategy and recognize that votes from the NDP will now belong to the NDP. We have been in power, had the chance to implement policies that would woo NDP leaning voters, and didn’t. NDP economics are not responsible and are likely to do more harm than good, so I’m happy we didn’t implement NDP-lite policy, but it means that in the new political climate, NDP votes will go to the NDP. Liberals need to seize the votes of those that are more fiscally prudent.

To do this it is important to be conscious of what they believe in. Progressive Conservative has often been thought to be an oxymoron, but it isn’t. They, like blue liberals are fiscally conservative but socially liberal, but what does that mean? At the core I think it means to be fiscally prudent while keeping an open mind, but I will try to elaborate further.

On the fiscal side it is a strong belief in maintaining balanced budgets, paying down debt, keeping the economy strong, and planning for the future. It means working to keep a low unemployment rate, because this will give the most bargaining power to employees so that they can earn better wages and benefits. It means limits on the roll of government, and setting priorities on what’s important, what’s not. Cut are sometimes supported if it’s believed that the wrong priorities have been made. Sometimes these cuts are so that other priorities can be made. It means taxation needs to be responsible, especially on the corporate side. Charge too much in the way of corporate taxes, and revenues will go down. Charge too little, and you get more of the same. The rate should be at that which yields the most revenue (measured against the economic climate), while being fair.

On the socially liberal side, it is a belief in social policy that leads to greater equality of opportunity, without ignoring individual responsibility. It also needs to be done in the best possible way, that keeps costs down so that it is sustainable. One issue that is a good example is post secondary education. I tend to believe in the need to ensure that everyone that  gets the grades gets to go, but also think that this needs to be structured in the shape of a loan. This is so that those that go think carefully about their decisions and don’t drain the system by training to be a social worker, then a paramedic, then an accountant. Individual responsibility is important. They also recognize that some things are just necessary to the health and well being of citizens, like health care that ensures that everyone can have access regardless of ability to pay. They also believe that it does no good to expect those less fortunate (on welfare, perhaps) to find a job if we refuse to do anything, or do very little to help them gain marketable skills. Sure, they can end up off the rolls for a few months with a low wage job, but it is only a matter of time before they are back on the rolls because of job loss and having the same set of skills they had to begin with. Sometimes people need helped into a position where they can better contribute to society.

Really, how many would choose to live in poverty if they had the opportunity not to?

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