Coincidence is an interesting concept. Most people are willing to consider two incidents a coincidence. Three begins to feel uncomfortable. By the time the tally reaches five no one is calling it a coincidence.
So why are so many UCP nomination candidates being outed as “racists”? Other than the fact that they make racially charged comments or share overtly discriminatory memes or, as in the latest case, offer to help connect a “conservative” social media account that shares Hitler-positive memes with “older, wealthier people” because the “account brings hope to a lot of older baby boomers that think that the younger generation is a lost cause”?
Those words paint a very different picture of conservatism than the one Kenney’s UCP is trying desperately to portray with their fresh-faced Trump supporters, climate change deniers, and pro-life policy influence. It’s your grandfather’s conservative party – literally – and they want your vote.
This has been a point of focus for Kenney and other conservatives for as long as I’ve been following the party. Back in June, 2017, I attended a unity event of Derek Fildebrandt’s. One audience member stood and made a comment about the demographics in the room. He said he saw a lot of people who looked like him, around the 55-65 year old range but “where are the 30 and 40 year olds?” He asked if the conservative parties had a plan to attract youth.
At the UCP’s first fundraiser, oddly titled ‘The Ralph (Klein) Revival’, Kenney briefly introduced the Party’s ‘youth outreach’ program. The aging Conservatives know full well their parties haven’t had the pull with youth and for a long time, Conservatives didn’t need youth; that changed in 2015.
For the first time since the Baby Boomers were old enough to vote, another generation, Millennials, finally outnumbered them. Baby Boomers raised Gen X’ers and Gen Y. Generation Y has since been lumped in with Millennials and some of us X’ers identify better with the Y/Millennials.
We were raised after Civil Rights Movements. We were raised in a time of universal healthcare and public education. We received Ralph Bucks and spoke out against entitlement and lying politicians rather than accept the theory that you know a politician is lying if they are talking.
Baby Boomers changed the political and cultural scene and it looks as though Millennials are poised to do the same. And the Old Stock Conservatives are scared. They have money and they still have numbers but they need new blood to keep going.
While “alt-right” or “nationalism” or “anti-immigrant” sentiment has seen a surge thanks to Breitbart, Milo, Trump and the Rebel, many of us were raised in more inclusive environments. Most of us were taught we were not entitled to anything we didn’t work for. A number of us were taught we were not entitled to anything we didn’t pay for.
It’s one of the reasons more and more people are standing up against tax cuts when a province is in debt. And many younger people are willing to pay to keep the services and benefits Alberta offers. You can call them progressives but they used to be called pragmatists. By my own experience, they were actually called ‘conservative’.
But as long as the conservative movement remains home to racists, orientation-phobic, tax averse and anti-immigrant sentiment, their appeal is going to continue to wane.
A new generation of business, opportunities, culture and people have reached the age of majority who want to build their own future; and it doesn’t involve “bringing back” their grandparent’s “good old days”.