It started with some of Susan Delacourt's writing, (and her links to others) on politicians and political parties shopping for votes. More specifically what she often refers to as Value versus Values. It's not only an interesting look at contemporary politics, but in my opinion a vital one.
While this is a simplistic overview, my interpretation of some of what I've read is this. Over time some political parties or machines, have developed methods of segmenting populations, examining their needs, producing a product/policy to fit that small segment and selling it to them. Not just selling it to them actually, but actively convincing them that they are right to want it, thereby validating their choice. Boutique politics providing value to that specific tax payer. Some argue that this kind of political marketing is just a natural evolution that fits into our 'consumer society'. Maybe, but I think it goes further than that. I think it's a strategy that feeds itself, encourages segregation/isolation of specific groups and discourages citizens from feeling part of the 'whole', or even a need to.
People end up voting for narrow issues that affect them without regard, or perhaps a realisation, of the impact elsewhere. Me, myself and aye, at the expense of the country as a whole, or at least a vision for it.
That is not to say that there is anything wrong with a certain amount of individualism, but not in the classical sense that excludes any form of communal responsibility and regard. That, I believe, is both unhealthy and unwise in a society.
So, why have I been thinking about this? Well, I believe that the Conservative party excels at 'value' politics and while the Liberal party is at the rebuilding stage, I'd hate to see us go in that direction. Furthermore, I think the crux of the 'value v. values' argument can be made within the party at this stage and may be a place we can focus on as we move forward.
It's clear that most members have no interest in the top telling or feeding it's members the goodies they perceive we want. The argument has been made by many that the desire now is to work collaboratively for the common good. That is complex, painstaking and requires compromise in order to arrive at that broader vision, one that ultimately serves all. It's an open process that moves from the traditional, 'let's find out their problems, then go away for a while so we can come back and give them the solution.' The onus is not on one person, nor one entity. It's up to all involved to work together on an ongoing basis, each playing a vital role, each with something at stake.
So, not only do I see this as an important discussion for the country, I think it may have some applications to the Liberal party as it moves forward to rebuild and clarify it's values.