Riley, I think my friend Eric should start that pushback against Graves.Joanne was responding to this comment in which Riley Hennessey says
This would be a great time for blogs like yourself to prove Graves wrong. The Liberals and Graves (and the media right now) are trying to portray the party in a certain way, ie intolerant and old-age.The issue, of course, is the interview EKOS pollster Frank Graves gave to the Globe & Mail in which he stated
I think it is up to blogs like this to stand up and say that is ridiculous. As far as I know, the Conservative Party is a tolerant, open party which welcomes everyone into the fold. For me, the Conservative Party needs to do a better job marketing its ideas to a younger generation. A lot of those ideas (deficit reduction, new concepts for health care delivery, nationalism, smaller government, banking reform, infrastructure investments, post-secondary education reform) all are important for the future and I think are applicable to people in their 20’s and 30’s who don’t want a mess of a country in 20 years time.
I do believe, and this gets more subtle, that there is a higher incidence of people who are less tolerant to homosexuals and more wary of other races, within the Conservative Party. I can demonstrate that empirically.For what its worth, here are my experiences as a gay Conservative supporter and blogger. I've been a Conservative for most of my adult life, and I've been associated with Blogging Tories for four years now. I haven't hesitated to post items on this blog about topics that supposedly get the "less tolerant" Tories agitated: gay marriage, gays in politics, Pride parades, you name it. I don't have a high traffic blog, but my experience with fellow Conservative readers has been by and large pleasant - many disagree with me on issues like gay marriage but enjoy discussing them with me and are usually intelligent and respectful. I regularly comment on gay issues in other Conservative blogs and they almost always welcome my input and appreciate the perspective I bring to the debate. I think I've even changed the minds of some fellow Conservatives whom I have engaged in discussion because they appreciate that, aside from our differences, we do have much in common. I get the odd anonymous commenter who is a little unhinged, but that's nothing compared to the vitriol I get from Liberal blowhards who regularly refer to me as a wanker or a douchebag. A gay Liberal blogger once called me a "gay stooge" and a "happy tap-dancing negro", and another suggested that I didn't believe in evolution. (I would provide links but I don't want to drive any traffic their way.)
That does not mean that Conservatives or Albertans are homophobic or xenophobic, but it does mean that many people, and more people statistically that have those points of view, end up in that party than in other places. That may be a statement that people don’t want to hear, but it’s empirically accurate and has been for a long time.
I consider myself a libertarian conservative, and I'm the first person to admit that the Conservative Party of Canada is not a perfect fit for libertarians or for gays, but no party is. As I posted here, the Liberal Party has homophobes in its midst (including MPs and former Cabinet ministers), but it is unquestioningly (and sometimes undeservedly) assumed that the Liberal Party always has the gay community's best interests at heart.
The Conservative Party of Canada is, to use the old cliche, a big tent. The central tenets of the conservative movement - the ones that all conservatives, socons, neocons & libertarians share - have broad cross-cultural appeal. Small government, lower taxation, individual rights & responsibility, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy and the free market, all are legitimate policy stances that are independent of race or sexual orientation. Gays in particular should be able to easily embrace a movement that values individual liberty and a minimum of state intervention in the lives of its citizens, since we have suffered at the hands of agents of the state for centuries. It is the Liberal Party that has been pushing divisive identity politics for decades, encouraging the culture of victimhood and dependence on an intrusive nanny state, all the while taking the support of ethnic groups and gay organizations for granted, assuming that they would never bite the hand that feeds them.
Conservatives by nature are wary of change. We believe that society's traditions and institutions represent a valuable cultural heritage and this heritage should not be tinkered with unless there's a compelling reason. However that doesn't mean we oppose ALL change. Doubts about gay marriage and unfettered immigration, for example, don't automatically imply that one is a homophobe or racist; more often it indicates concern for the impact of these policies and a desire for a frank debate and slow, well-thought-out action if action is needed. We believe that individuals are best left to themselves to make decisions and we are naturally skeptical of the intervention of government, but that doesn't mean we oppose government action because we're racist, bigoted or close-minded. We just need a lot of convincing that we're going to be better off after we've given up some of our liberty to a distant bureaucracy that thinks it knows what's best for us.
I'm not going to deny that there are homophobes and racists who call themselves Conservatives, but they form a small minority which is not welcome in the main stream of the conservative movement and does not represent the opinions of the vast majority of the Conservative rank and file. Furthermore, there are racists and homophobes who call themselves Liberals and New Democrats as well - I've met some of them - and most people would resist suggesting that they represent their respective parties.
I am a gay Conservative, and I wouldn't continue to support the Conservative Party of Canada or blog at Blogging Tories if I didn't feel welcome.