If you’re antithetical to leadership why lead? (A critique of Parti Populaire)

Many of us naively thought that the People’s Party would become a credible contender when Maxime Bernier announced his plans for the new faction in 2018.

In retrospect, I am reminded that it should always proceed prospect; a diligent review of the history of small government parties in the Anglo-Sphere should have prevented Bernier from forming one.

State-side, Ron Paul and his son have been trying to move federal politics in a small government direction for over 30 years. Popular support has eluded both of them and they’ve remained on the fringe. In Britain, New Zealand, and Australia core-conservatives dominate the right-wing of electoral politics and parties like ACT who champion laissez-faire economics can’t gain a toe-hold.

Clinton and Trump’s behemoth campaigns were barely dented by Gary Johnson, who received 3.27% of the national vote. At the same time, the election of Trump and the rise of right-wing populism shows that there is no fundamental contemporary-plebeian aversion to extremism and novelty.

Maxime Bernier has come under fire from progressives for sounding all too similar to Trump on issues like climate change and immigration. Although unlike Trump, he addresses the foreigner with a cadence that is far less aggressive than indifferent.

Disinterest is a strange ethos for a leader, and it is endemic to leaders of small government factions.

With that said, there is a lot more to the libertarian movement than cynicism and disregard of outsiders. There is also a view towards lofty idealism; support for free expression and opposition to crony capitalism are two big pillars of Bernier’s platform. Further to that, libertarian leaders have long emphasized the unexpected symbiosis between their parochialism and anti-war idealism.

Whatever the case, leadership demands leadership and despises myopia.

It’s not enough to say that the sovereignty of people and polities should be respected. There needs to be some concrete plan regarding how it will be protected. Bernier is perhaps one of the most inherently charismatic figures in modern western politics. But looks that evoke Richard Gere, and a disposition marked by calm, confidence, and conviction, are entirely insufficient to compensate for a bankrupt ideology.

The People’s Party is polling at less than 3% of the popular vote.

Eschewing cynicism and idealism for worldly common sense, it is clear that the nations of the Anglo-Sphere cannot walk away from their prominence in international affairs. To become inward-looking is no proposal for a country like Canada.

Current events paint a clear picture; a bastion of classically liberal ideals like Hong Kong must be defended if it is to exist. Counter-enlightenment ideals certainly do not heed borders; they move tanks and heavy artillery across them. Those loyal to some iteration or another of the enlightenment can only respond in kind.

The same principles apply to banal domestic matters. One needn’t study the history of Athens in any depth when recent election results world-wide teach the same lesson; the “will of the people” is no litmus test for truth, justice and morality broadly conceived. Laissez-faire is no nemesis of cartels, cronyism and other tried-and-tested strategies for success that people happily use whenever they can.

It doesn’t matter that Bernier would be of no help to the bad guys; he’d be of no help to the good guys either. If those without scruples or shame don’t have a man in government like Trump to help them get their way, they’ll look to private options, not least of all PMC’s, to help fill the void.

Letting the chips fall where they may is no strategy for building and maintaining a good society. Liberal democracy must be defended and fought for on a global basis. The relevant question for Canadians right now is which party is the right one to do this.


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William Tomos Edwards

William Tomos Edwards


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