12.17.2014

Wilted Flower

I told them so.

A year ago.  Then again.  Recently, in fact.

The split I saw forming in the foundation of the Wildrose party was not the oft-discussed ‘libertarians vs social conservatives’ separation, but a divide between the party hierarchy and the so-called ‘grassroots’ everyday card-carrying party members.

Party faithful watched as leader Danielle Smith ignored warnings and continued to heed the advice from her insiders – advice that went from questionable to bad to fatal in rapid succession.

Wildrose supporters witnessed the rise in popularity of their party, and felt confident in their leader who grew into her own as a leader and a politician.

Then they watched as that same leader failed to exercise her leadership time after time after time.

The Lake of Fire™ fiasco during the last provincial election could have and should have been handled much better.  Smith could have solidified a reputation as a strong leader by quickly condemning the words of the candidate in question.  She could have immediately preached to the media and voters that this was not the position of the Wildrose party and we do not agree with that opinion.

Instead, she hesitated.  She looked unsure of what to do.  Then, when she finally spoke of the issue, she practically defended the candidate.

What followed were more examples of opportunities wasted.  Moments when Smith’s leadership were needed within the party were fumbled.

Despite warnings from many long-time Wildrose supporters, she continued to heed the advice of her inner sanctum over the party membership, and the seeds of implosion were sewn.

The party was becoming what it once held in contempt.

Even when the Wildrose was at its finest, holding the Alison Redford PC’s accountable and becoming perhaps the most effective Opposition Alberta had seen in decades, behind the scenes things were a sideshow.

Many Constituency associations were little more than a coffee between a few friends.  Many CA’s were filled by those seeking personal gain and saw the then-surging Wildrose as a perfect vehicle.

Disorganization has always hampered the party.

While not all of the issues which have affected the Wildrose party can be placed on the shoulders of Danielle Smith, the simple fact is she is…was the leader.

As someone who supported Danielle from the early days of her quest for the leadership of the Wildrose, her decision to cross the floor is a bit of a shock, but perhaps not as shocking as it could have been.

A good friend who has lived in the High River area all of his life said it best:

“Credibility.  That’s what it comes down to.  Credibility.  We voted for her and the party.  She was the leader, for God’s sake.  What kind of person builds a career attacking the government only to join the other side when the going gets tough?  What kind of leader turns her back on her own party and the voters, not only those here but across the province?”

“It would be a waste of time for her to run again.”

Even though I let my party membership lapse this year, there are still some 23,000 card-carrying Wildrose members who now belong to the remnants of a political entity.

They are the ones who feel betrayed.

They are the ones who are asking what the purpose of the Wildrose party actually was.

They feel like they’ve been had, not only by the entire Wildrose experiment, but especially by the former leader.

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