Monday, January 23, 2006

Revolution Convolution

It seems likely that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will win Canada's elections today but that they will not capture an outright majority. But is it really a "conservative revolution, as some in the blogosphere, like Michelle Malkin, are breathlessly calling it? You tell me.

Does this sound like a revolution?

Mr. Harper -- in a campaign largely free of ideology -- promised to cut the national sales tax, grant families child care for preschoolers and introduce mandatory prison sentences. A longtime member of the House of Commons representing Alberta, he has a conservative record, but steered clear in recent months of promising major changes to the national health insurance program.

The absence of strong ideological overtones would appear to make a Thatcherite-style revolution unlikely, even in the face of a strong Conservative showing.

Does this sound like a country ready to embrace conservatism rather than merely reject a corrupt incumbent?

A Canadian electorate that appears to have tired of more than a decade of Liberal rule was heading to the polls on Monday, seemingly ready to hand a limited mandate to the Conservatives.

Don't get me wrong. A Conservative victory is a good thing, and it's a big deal insofar as it represents the end of twelve years of Liberal government. But waging a mostly ideology-free campaign, polling at 37 percent (even if that's 10 points better than the other side), and winning because of disaffection with the incumbent are not the groundwork of a revolution, conservative or otherwise. It's more like, as Andrew Coyne suggests in the New York Times, "a small earthquake," a tremor indicating the movement of tectonic plates beneath the surface and perhaps a larger earthquake in the future. But not now. Not today.

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