Frank Touby: When ‘conservative’ was good

By Frank Touby –

There was a time not too long ago when “conservative” stood for something honest and good. It described a political and social position that built North America. It meant honest labour was a high virtue, along with reasonable self reliance, concern for one’s fellow citizens, a sense of fairness for all and a proper reluctance to have government do for us what we could and should do for ourselves.

It demanded government effectively and honourably perform, produce or regulate services or products that only it should be responsible for; vital things that private sector operatives might use to unfairly penalize or exploit citizens. Such things as delivering mail, telecom and energy; raising an army; commissioning domestic police; schooling children; providing for the necessities of life.

“Conservative” meant something then. Something honourable and good and fair. That was before the NeoCons hijacked the term and perverted it to mean wrongly enriching the well connected and deluding the gullible into thinking they, too, can be connected if they string along.

Today it has taken on a sad veneer of provoking feelings of greed and jealousy against the unfortunate. “Conservative” has been appropriated by the warlords who control monster corporations. While it’s their royal prerogative to demand taxpayer bailout for their egregious blunders and outright evil greed, they obstruct public remediation of the condition the growing ranks of the unfortunate deserve: it is often those warlords who have created the misfortunes.

“Conservative” has become the label of Big Liars. They tell outrageous lies, repeatedly, expensively, stunning honest opponents into near silence; tricking voters into swallowing their bullshit. There’s a word for it now that came from the second stolen election for George W. Bush: Swiftboating. Look it up in Wikipedia. As a repeated, loud lie, it changed the story of a genuine Viet Nam war hero and made it seem as if he were an elite shirker. Like George W. Bush.

A group of super-wealthy reactionaries gathered up some Viet Nam vets, only one of whom served on Democrat candidate John Kerry’s boat, to accuse him of lying about his military service. No doubt some cash was involved for the old fellows to travel to political rallies and recall events the way they claimed. After all, it was sharks like T. Boone Pickens who were picking up the tab. All other vets who actually served with Kerry backed the official version of his heroic service.

Stunned into silence by such blatant, heavily financed lying, the Kerry campaign took the high road to nation-wrecking defeat: another four years for the “conservatives.”

In Canada, the Big Lie is a term like “accountable government” from the most secretive prime minister in decades. There are many more. The Big Lie is that private business is more efficient than properly run government activities and costs less.

The Big Lie is that Canada will continue to be an independent nation while giving away its living in free trade deals that only serve corporate warlords.

You get the idea. Lots of Big Lies, brashly and expensively proclaimed, that effectively go unchallenged. That’s what “conservative” has come to mean.

In Toronto, a Big Lie was that Amalgamation would be more cost effective than the existing government form. In Ontario, a Big Lie was that downloading provincial responsibilities onto municipalities would be “revenue neutral.”

The willful hallucination that big business and professions are the best watchdogs over themselves is another, deadly, Big Lie.

The Big Lie of all Big Lies that marks this perversion of the once-reputable term “Conservative” is that selfish private interests can best serve the tax-paying public. To that end, they do their utmost to make government fail, or appear to fail, so that a hapless citizenry will let the well connected rob them blind. In the U.S. it appears that their aim is to destroy the middle class and replace it with a quivering, fearful mass  obedient to the will of their elite betters. Thus they have privatized the armed forces with such as Blackwater, intend to use combat troops domestically, shipped the National Guard off to foreign wars and gutted the admirable U.S. Constitution that protects against an outlaw state.

The only chance for remediation is Barack Obama. We must pray he isn’t another David Miller-style dud.