Hollowing out of the middle and why that is a bad thing

With the NDP-Liberal deal formalized, its clear Liberals are no longer the party of the centre that they were under Chretien/Martin. With Poilievre likely to be next Conservative leader, it appears Conservatives are abandoning the centre as well. I believe this is a bad thing for country and while many politicos may prefer ideological purity, focus should be on what is best for country, not who is sufficiently progressive if on left or sufficiently conservative if on right.

I have been told on many issues I am not a real Conservative and should just go join the Liberal Party. Off course most Liberals would say I am insufficiently progressive. Fact is like many, I am increasing becoming politically homeless. Yes perhaps we are moving towards a more polarized environment where most fall on one side or another, but that doesn’t mean its a good thing or something that should be promoted. The job of any leader is to do what is best for Canada. One runs for office to serve their country, not to serve a particular ideology. So the question on any policy should be not what label is attached to it, but is it good or bad for Canada. Off course people will disagree on what is best, but that should be the focus. Being centrist doesn’t mean indecision; it means looking at each issue on its individual merits and deciding from there. It may mean adopting policies on the right on some issues while policies on the left on other. As no ideology is right all the time and almost all except the most extreme have some good ideas.

I believe the move towards polarization is very worrisome and its incumbent upon those who care deeply for a country to push back against it no matter which party is our preferred one. Many claim we are more divided than ever and there is some truth to that. And I believe a big reason for that is with polarization, people are going to their own echo chambers and not talking or listening to those with different viewpoints. Hearing all sides not only creates better policy, it also allows for better understanding of your fellow citizens which is key to keeping a large country like Canada united. Likewise world is not black and white, its shades of gray and good policy is almost never in absolutes, but in nuances. Saying you want lower taxes or more programs is a simplistic one. Instead should be what is the optimal tax rate, what is optimal welfare state in terms of programs and scope and then working towards that. I do believe in less government in general, but doesn’t mean I blindly want smaller. Instead I think overall size of government is beyond the optimal level, but I do believe its possible to have a case where too little. And likewise some areas of government I believe are too small. Being too big is more on average not across the board. This simplistic one sided thinking is not going to help us solve the serious problems of the day be it high cost of living, sluggish long term growth, climate change, health care, and our low productivity levels. This will come from complex nuanced ones. Yes I get people have short attention spans and explaining all the details tunes people out. But you can still highlight ideas and likewise if your plan is well received by people who are experts in a certain area, that tends to help on winning whereas if panned as being bad, people less likely to vote for it.

As Conservatives embark on choosing new leader, I implore them to get outside their bubbles and stop this if one isn’t sufficiently conservative they are a Liberal. Most of us don’t hate Liberals, we just disagree on major issues but still believe they are well meaning people with good intentions. And when I’ve talked to people of other side, I’ve actually found we often have more in common than we may think and differences are more on details and degree, not big picture. The former Progressive Conservatives understood this and we were well served by it. Republicans used to be this way too but unfortunately in recent years have moved away from good policy to ideological purity and trying to own the other side. Sadly with the rise of Reform Party who dominates current Conservatives, I see same thing happening. And finally for the Liberals, I get with parliament’s current configuration, moving left makes sense, but long term I hope party post Trudeau will move back to the centre and once again be a big tent pragmatic party like it was under Chretien/Martin, not a progressive ideological driven one like it is under Trudeau.

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