Dear Alberta PCs: Welcome to life as a Liberal
First off, congrats on the 40 years in power. It was a good run and, speaking on behalf of the Alberta Liberal Party, I'd like to think we played a small role in making it possible.
But the latest polls show Danielle Smith and her band of lovable homophobes poised for power - some polls even have PC support dipping below 30%, into "Liberal territory". It looks like the party's over, and if Alberta's history is any indication, once you lose power, you never get it back.
So as someone who spent many years fighting for the Alberta Liberal Party, I thought I'd offer a few tips to help facilitate your transition to irrelevance.
1. Blame the Media: I can't tell you how many times I've heard Liberals complain that "we would have won, if only the media had covered our education platform". Yes, it's not in any way productive to trash the media, but it's something you can bond over with other activists, and it's healthier than blaming voters.
You've already got a good start on this - I've seen lots of tweets from PC members complaining about Danielle Smith's free ride this campaign. One Facebook post dismissed a ThinkHQ poll as "Wildrose propaganda", even though the company is run by Dave Bronconnier's former chief of staff.
2. Blame the electoral map: Repeat after me - "why does rural Alberta get so many seats?". Seriously, whose idea was that?
3. Forget the Past: I know there will be a temptation to look back longingly at the glory years. Maybe you'll even try to convince a nephew of Ed Stelmach's to run for leader one day, to try to reclaim the magic of the 70-seat Stelmachian era. But I've told enough Alexander Rutherford stories on the door steps to know voters don't give a damn about the past.
4. Accept the Messiah: Back in 2001, a drunk Ralph Klein berated the homeless in Calgary, and the voters shrugged. He threw a book at a 12 year old girl, berated AISH recipients, got busted plagiarizing an essay, and told ranchers to "shoot, shovel, and shut up" next time they saw a case of mad cow disease - each time, voters shrugged. It used to drive me crazy, but after a decade, I came to accept it.
The sooner you accept that Danielle Smith is infallible, the less likely you'll be to develop high blood pressure.
5. Learn to Love Opposition: Rejoice! The days of having to defend no-meet committees, controversial appointments, and spending boondoggles are over. I know you found it awkward explaining why Ron Stevens billed taxpayers for a 3-day "stopover" in Hawaii, as part of his fact finding trip to Australia to "study" their gambling system. Luckily, the days of PCs doing anything on the government dime are gone.
Yes, there will still be MLAs to embarrass you. But the good news is there will be far, far fewer of them.
On the other side, it's a lot more fun to criticize than to be criticized. You don't think vegans in the Annex don't secretly love complaining about Rob Ford? Righteous indignation is a drink that can make you forget about landslide election defeats, and given Danielle's Smith platform and caucus, she will be serving you up the ingredients for this drink every day.
6. Become an Idealist: I know a lot of PC members are only members because the PCs are in power. They won't be members for long.
Once they're gone, you'll have the freedom to advocate for policies you believe in. You think the Alberta Liberals are proposing carbon taxes and tax hikes to get elected? Of course not. Trust me - you'll feel a lot better having the door slammed in your face when you say something you believe in, than having the door slammed in your face because of a scandal involving an idiot Cabinet Minister you've never met.
7. Embrace the Novelty: It will take a few years, but before long you'll find yourself at a party in Ontario and someone will exclaim "boy, a PC supporter in Alberta - that must be tough!". I know you'll be tempted to argue or educate them - "actually, we won 8 seats last election and were in power back in 2011". But don't do it! Take it from me, no one cares that the Liberals hold seats in Calgary or that the party routinely gets 25% of the vote.
Instead, play up the stereotype - talk about the 3 person riding association meetings, or the time the 90 year old grandma in rural Alberta chased you off her porch hurling f-bombs your way. It's what your audience wants to hear. Call yourself an "endangered species" and claim you joined the PCs as "an act of youthful rebellion" - you'll be the hit of every party.
Heck, even a benign blog title like "Calgary PC" will be eye catching and mysterious before long.