They just don’t and won’t get it. It seems that every couple months we see an article written on a slow news day reporting on some person or another speaking on how they will “unite the right” in Alberta. Most often it is quotes from politically unemployed clowns such as Rob Anderson or Jonathan Denis who both have proven rather starkly to have terrible strategic instincts. I mean really, why should we seriously take political advice from people who so brilliantly destroyed their own political careers? These guys have always been self-interested and clearly they still can’t see outside of their little, myopic bubbles.
This week we had an article on some group that claims to be on the way to uniting the right and is claiming to be on the way to raising $2 million towards that end already. I will believe that when I see it.
What these stooges will have to understand is that if you want to unite the PC party and the Wildrose Party (if it is even possible) you will have to court the damned members rather than push from outside!!
The article linked above speaks to these apparent “unite the right” proponents in the first part but becomes even more telling in the second half of the article. Both the Wildrose and PC parties have utterly no interest in taking this path right now and no outside group is going to force them to do so.
It is exactly this sort of small group behind closed doors that blew both parties apart when they completely bypassed the memberships of both parties and orchestrated a mass floor crossing. The fallout from that led to Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith being politically disgraced and destabilized both parties to the point where we now find ourselves with an NDP government.
Let’s be clear, the public was utterly disgusted with the deal that Prentice and Smith cut between themselves and they demonstrated that at the polls as the NDP exploded in support. There was no right split. People were just so revolted with both options on the right that they clung to what seemed like the next best organized party. They didn’t vote for policy. They voted for principle and now we all pay the price.
Despite such a recent history of the pushback that comes from backroom style merger efforts, some of these guys still insist on beating on that wall.
Last weekend I attended the Wildrose AGM and I can assure you that merging with the moribund Progressive Conservative Party is not even a tiny consideration among the membership at large. The PC Party (or brass within it anyway) tried every trick in the book from organizing the mass floor crossing to breaking their own law and calling an early election in hopes of burying the Wildrose Party. The PCs are now deeply in debt with little electoral support and nearly no fiscal support. Why on earth would Wildrose members want to take that on in a merger?
To push for a merger one has to start with courting the members and perhaps begin with donors. Perhaps a mail out to Wildrose donors asking “would you like your donations to go towards paying the debt of the PC party as they spent millions trying to destroy the Wildrose Party in the general election?” I suspect that I know what donors would respond with but that is exactly what merger proponents are asking them to do.
Patience is something else that is required here. The NDP will be clinging to power until the bitter end. If polls are low enough (and I suspect that they will be), Notley will likely cling to power for the entire five years that the system allows her to. We have a few years before the next general election and need not rush into trying to mash two groups together.
The PC party will be holding a leadership race eventually. That will be the best opportunity for them to explore the consideration of a merger. That will be a poll of their membership and their concerns should be paramount. A pro-merger candidate could test some waters.
In the mean time we will carry on as we have been. I do like how Brian Jean has been approaching things and speaking about ensuring that we get the “right” people. I am not sure if that messaging is resonating perfectly with the public but what I interpret him saying is essentially that the Wildrose door is open for principled PC supporters to get on board. The word :”right” in this context is not so much speaking to a point on the political spectrum as it is speaking to avoiding taking on the self-serving and power seeking element that was within the PC party which ultimately led to their demise. We want the good people from that party (and there were many), but do not want to assume the party’s baggage or culture of “get elected by all means possible”.
We have an opportunity for a fresh start and if we do it right, there will only be one party to take what’s left of the province back from the NDP in 3.5-4.5 years. We can build a principled alternative that has plans and hope rather than baggage and blind ambition.
The effort to build that alternative will have to come from the ground as well. Just the other night I was poking a stick at the PCs on twitter for what was essentially petty entertainment (yes, I was admittedly trolling). I was taken to task for it by a couple PC supporters who I do respect even if we have been on opposite ends of the field at times. It was food for thought and I really do need to lay off on poking the stick. If we want those respectable sort of people to come on with us eventually we will have to approach and treat them with respect now. Constantly shooting at their pride won’t do anybody any favors and I really have to cut it out. We do have a lot in common and with some rational actions in the next few years may be able to pull things together.
The memberships of both parties need to be courted though, not dictated to. These current “unite the right” folks will never understand that as they keep trying to force things from either the outside in or the top down.