The political right in Canada is in disarray. The Liberals and NDP have together dominated the last two elections despite Trudeau performing in a minstrel show wearing blackface so many times that even he has lost count. On the naive supposition that Canadians value Liberal policies over Trudeau’s looks, they have won on a socially liberal and an economically globalist platform, while the Mainstream Media have, and continue to support this agenda. The Conservative Party is fully committed to this program too, debating only the finer points and looking for (or creating) unrelated scandals. But even Stalin drew the line at enforced equity and gender politics, something the Liberals encourage and the Conservatives are unwilling to denounce.
Economically, the main parties govern straight out of an undergraduate textbook. From the Carbon Tax to Free Trade, there is virtually nothing the Canadian government has done in the last several decades that is not taught in the first two or three years of an Economics program in every university in the Western world.
Opposing these mainstream parties are a handful of terminally unsuccessful right-wing parties, from the People’s Party to the smallest unregistered parties with a handful of members. Times are changing; the political orthodoxy is not only being questioned, it is being replaced. The USA, UK, and Hungary are three notable examples where people have started to understand that the world of the last 75 years has changed, and have dared to vote with the new reality. Over the last several months The Economist, the doyen of social progressivism and economic globalism, has confirmed nationalism’s place in the mainstream by writing several articles on the subject. So why then can’t nationalist parties gain a foothold in Canada? Why are they relegated to also-rans, at best? The great temptation is to blame outside forces, i.e. the Media. And while it is true the Canadian media has ‘no-platformed’ all except their favoured parties, most negative coverage is usually deserved. So instead of blaming others, these parties should start by taking a look at themselves.
In general, a political organization’s activities can be reduced to three main categories: structure, governance and communication.
You can’t go it alone
As leader of a new or small party you must of course be wary of allowing untrusted individuals into positions of power; the risks are too great. It is far too easy for bad actors, individually or collectively, to infiltrate your party and cause chaos. To mitigate this risk, the usual measure taken by fringe parties is to keep everybody out, but this is probably worse than letting bad people in. Remember, people join these new and small parties because they want to participate in the political process, unlike members of the established parties, who more often than not just want to support their team. Excluding everybody reduces the management team to just you, but it is extremely unlikely you have the skills and abilities to single-handedly create, build and administer a national (or even local) political party. So, what to do?
Include in your constitution that you are the leader, if necessary. This may be unpalatable to some and anit-democratic to others, but it provides you with a constitution (which is necessary), gives stability, and secures your leadership, and these reasons should be well communicated to the public. In this situation, your role as leader, among other things, is to provide a ‘sober second thought’, and to ensure bad actors can not destroy your party. Much of the day-to-day management should be left to managers working under your direction. So to counter claims of ‘dictator!’, open up other leadership positions and the decision making process to your members, rewarding competency and loyalty. A vast amount has been written on what makes a good leader, and you should do your own research into this subject, keeping these and the following points in mind.
Separate yourself from the party.
Tempting though it may be, your thoughts are not the thoughts of the party. If your party does not have an explicit policy on a certain subject, do not be tempted to make one up on the fly. “We do not have a policy on that subject” is a perfectly acceptable response, especially for a small and young party. This is not your party, it is your members’ party. You will not always get your way. The key is to have a well organized and disciplined approach to making decisions that affect the party.
How can you give your members a semblance of control in your party without allowing them to run wild? Give them responsibility, but tempered with structure, direction, and well-defined limits. Delegate as much as possible. If you want to revamp your website, do not do it yourself, but get your members to do it under your guidance. If they fail at this task, then you have learned something but lost very little. If they succeed, you have created a great working relationship and identified competent people.
People join your party because they want to participate in your organization, so actively solicit and employ volunteers; never turn anyone away. If for any reason you can not find a position for them, find a volunteer who can assign duties to other volunteers. Everybody has something to contribute, and your job as Leader is to bring out the best in people, or to delegate this task to somebody else. I am surprised at the number of volunteer organizations that are not continually looking for volunteers. At the very least they need a volunteer to find positions for volunteers. If you do not have a position open, create one. If you cannot think of a position for a volunteer, find somebody who can. You do not have the luxury of ‘too many members’, or ‘too much help’.
As your party grows and becomes more complex you will need a Bureaucracy to administer it, and it is never too early to start creating this Bureaucracy, usually in the form of committees. The purpose is threefold:
- Give your volunteers a well-defined position within your organization where they can contribute. Consider it a recruitment tool.
- Identify talent. See what each person brings to the table and put them in positions where they will succeed and excel. Build ‘centres of excellence’.
- Get work done. Of course it is quite likely that many volunteers will be inexperienced, but it is your job as Leader to either bring out their talents and mentor them, or find somebody who can.
Create ‘advisory’ committees, for example, and staff them with members and non-members (non-members may eventually become members, and even if they do not, they may have value to add). Have IT, Communications, Fundraising, and Planning committees, for instance, if you have the people to staff them. Have a Committee for the Moral Improvement of the Youth. Have a committee to determine what committees to create; you can never have too many committees, because the point is not efficiency, it is member engagement and talent spotting.
In most or all countries the grassroots and the foundation of conservative political parties are to be found in the rural areas. Canada is no exception. Rural Canadians are the natural members of conservative and nationalistic parties, so this is where you must focus a lot of your resources, and to whom your party must largely submit. Criticising farmers is almost as socially unacceptable as criticising minorities, so a rural base will also mitigate early criticism of your party.
Politics becomes more effective the more local you go. An elected MP has very little authority whereas a member of the local school board has the ability to change the curriculum of children who will grow up remembering their lessons. Try to organize locally by meeting up. Run in local elections, anything from dogcatcher to mayor. Keep running and gain experience. This is hard work, but it takes hard work to succeed.
Perhaps even more important than the internal organization of a party is its communication strategy. This strategy must include how and what you communicate to the media, the public, your members as a whole, and your members individually. Virtually everything you and your party does should be open to scrutiny, and you should act as though the whole world is watching. Act in an upright, open and honest manner whenever and with whomever you communicate. Be positive and optimistic.
In general, like most progressives, Canadian journalists are stupid, intellectually and physically lazy, and unconsciously biased (all of which are roughly equivalent). Very few are out to get you. Once you realize this and treat them this way, you can create good, if not great relationships with them. Write their stories for them by writing press releases that they can essentially copy and paste into an article. If they report something that is misleading or untrue, politely but firmly let them know about it.
It is not what you say, it is how you say it.
Remember, this is not 1930’s Germany. Simply put, your party cannot succeed in Canada in 2020 by talking about race or Jews. “But it’s true! I won’t compromise my principles!” If you care about “truth” and “principles” you should get out of politics. Politics is the art of compromise, so if your end goal has something to do with Jews or race, then your intermediate goal should be getting to the point where you can talk about Jews or race. Right now you are not influential enough to be that controversial; once you have built up your influence you can reevaluate your message. Civic Nationalism is a step towards Ethnic Nationalism. Avoid ‘dogwhistles’ and focus on the positive aspects of conservative and nationalistic culture and economics. Be careful of policy building early on.
Today more than ever do we live in uncertainty. We have a multi-year plague, war (with China?) is almost certain, and political and cultural divisions are so stark that you can see civil war on the horizon if you squint hard enough. So what specific direction should your party go in? First off, do not commit yourself to a very defined and inflexible set of policies. Let time and the times determine the direction. But this is not a call to inaction, rather it is like swimming across a river: don’t swim straight across, but start out upstream from where you want to end up and let the current help you get across. Formulate policies that work, and take your time to get it right. Even so, you may have to go through several iterations until you hit it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes; if you haven’t ever failed, you haven’t learned how to succeed.
You cannot trust or expect the Mainstream Media to give your party publicity or honestly explore nationalistic ideas, so create your own newsletter and send it out to everybody you can, not just your members. Get as many people as possible writing for it, with as many different points of view, but please(!) get at least a second draft of each article and proofread it for spelling and grammar. Solicit feedback. The Economist or The Week are good templates to aspire to with respect to format and quality, the National Review for editorial stance.
This is not meant to be an exact blueprint on how to create and manage a political party; rather it is a very rough outline of several necessary (but not sufficient) items needed to succeed. There are many missing elements, and even those included are not detailed enough to provide a complete plan. As always, the Devil is in the details. The creation and proper governance of a political party is a hugely complex task requiring the efforts of many people, all of them working hard and working together. And hard work means doing things you do not necessarily want to do. You and your team will need to make sacrifices if you want to succeed. Sitting back and telling other people what to do is a recipe for disaster and failure. How many times have I heard “I don’t have to do any work, I’m the boss!” The boss in a competitive industry has to work harder than everybody else if he wants to stay the boss, and politics is one of the most competitive industries there is.