American and Canadian conservatives never apologize or accept responsibility for their actions
It doesn’t matter whether you live above or below the 49th parallel. If you’re Canadian or American you can be sure your country’s conservatives never accept responsibility for their actions. In both countries, conservatives like to say they belong to a party that preaches personal responsibility, but when push comes to shove they never accept responsibility themselves.
The problem begins and ends as always with poor leadership. Followers and supporters always try to emulate the qualities of their leaders, bad or good. When the leadership turns to lying, denying or refusing to be held accountable for misdeeds, it trickles down to MPs or congressmen.
From there, it gets passed on to the voters who put them in office. Soon enough you have regular citizens trying to defend the actions of their leaders using the same methods. It’s a vicious circle that only the men and women on top can change, but rarely choose to.
I’m not sure where this conservative refusal to accept responsibility came from. I wonder if it started with Richard Nixon claiming that he wasn’t a crook. Following Watergate, his resignation speech was void of any admission of wrong doing.
Perhaps it started with Ronald Reagan denying any knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair, despite the obvious connections. In Canada, this problem among conservatives hasn’t been around all that long, but then their party hasn’t been in office much. I wonder if the current crop of Canadian conservatives acquired their inability to accept responsibility from their brethren south of the border.
Nonetheless, let’s start with how they like to preach fiscal responsibility. Every conservative from Mexico to the arctic loves to say that balancing the budget is of the utmost importance. Well, let see. President Clinton left George W. Bush with a significant budget surplus and it disappeared almost instantly, never to be balanced again.
Similarly, Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper inherited a surplus budget from the Liberal Party upon taking office. It took two years for his party to go into the red, but after five years of corporate tax cuts, program cuts, and cuts in federal employees, the budget is still yet to be balanced.
If you were to ask either of them why they couldn’t balance the budget, you’d hear every excuse in the book. It was the war on terror, the recession, you name it. It had nothing to do with Bush’s two wars or Harper’s 50% corporate tax cut. The budget might not be the clearest example of conservatives not taking responsibility, but I include it because it’s a subject they both hold dear.
So moving on, aside from the budget, the Bush Jr. Administration had too many examples to mention them all. He never took responsibility for leading the country into two disastrous wars. He didn’t accept blame for the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina… Come to think of it, he didn’t take responsibility for anything. I’m not even sure Dick Cheney even accepted responsibility for shooting his pal in the face (must have been the alcohol).
The best and obvious example in the United States would have to be the recent government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis. Not only did Tea Party conservatives not take responsibility for the shutdown (for trying to de-funding Obamacare) or the billions it cost, they actually tried to blame the other party.
Of course the shutdown is also one of many examples. We all know they take no responsibility for the lousy job numbers after blocking every jobs bill. And I don’t have to mention conservatives take no responsibility for the plight of the poor at all, that goes with saying. You really have to wonder what a governing conservative is responsible for… other than their campaign donors.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen this lack of ownership seep into Canada in the last few years. Three Conservative Senators appointed by Stephen Harper have been caught in a serious expense scandal. The three senators have refused to accept responsibility for misusing public funds despite irrefutable evidence against them.
Naturally the man who appointed them, Prime Minister Harper has not apologized for appointing the three corrupt senators to begin with. He even defended them up until the point when they became a political liability. He has also not taken responsibility for his former chief of staff Nigel Wright who tried to cover one of them up.
It has also become apparent that the conservative Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford has in fact smoked crack while in office. You would think the honorable thing to do would be to fess up, take responsibility and leave office… But no. He went on the radio and apologized saying that he’s made “mistakes”. He never said what it was he was apologizing for.
Liberals have their shortcomings too to be sure, but taking responsibility isn’t really one of them. I’ve heard Barack Obama take responsibility for his presidency on multiple occasions. The most resent would be after the failure of the healthcare.gov site.
Some conservatives argue that apologizing for disasters or transgressions makes a person look weak. Personally I think it’s a fundamental attribute in a good leader. That might explain why conservatives on either side of the border haven’t had one in a long while.