07 May, 2010

Is this what a "healthy Conservative party" looks like?

The healthy, modernized Conservative party of Britian… still can't muster enough votes to govern.

Over the last few months, I've read a lot of commentary about how a healthy, modernized conservative movement in the United States would look and sound like Cameron's Conservatives in the UK. I really, really hope that this election result puts an end to all that. The United States cannot now, and never could be, modeled after Great Britain. (I seem to recall a bit of a disagreement over that a couple of centuries ago.)

Contrast this to Berlusconi's party put up solid wins in Italy's recent regional elections, despite a poor economy, scandal, and all the rest.Should Republicans look to Italy's, uhm, "healthy" conservative party for inspiration on how to win elections? If so, God help us all.

Update: Some commentators now argue that the result in the UK validates their arguments, since the percentage of Conservative voters increased over the 2005 election, from 9 million to 11 million. Given the supposedly atrocious state of things in Britain (which many of them trumpeted, at least) I find the argument unconvincing.

I prefer a different comparison: that from 1974 to 1979. A healthy Conservative Party would be a Conservative Party that could grow from 10 million to 14 million voters.

Some have argued that there simply aren't that many voters who might vote Conservative. There's a point to this: just add up the number of Labour and Liberal Democrat votes. Fair enough, but I don't see how this helps the larger argument: if the Conservative "brand" is such that there's no way to win 14 million votes in Britain, then it isn't a healthy party. Period, full stop.

Neverthemore, the United States and the United Kingdom are two different entities. Should American conservatism modernize? Absolutely. But there are different ways to modernize it, and those who advocate Cameron-style Conservatism strike me as profoundly unconvincing.

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