"I would set you free, if I knew how. But it isn't free out here. All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all. I can't even give you hope that it will be different someday - that They'll come out and forget death, and lose Their technology's elaborate terror, and stop using every other form of life without mercy to keep what haunts men down to a tolerable level - and be like you instead, simply here, simply alive."
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, 1973
During an election campaign where the meteoric rise of a libertarian option has brought a clear light to the blemishes and repercussions of that party's interpretation of freedom, I have tuned out. My mind has been long made up about how I want to vote and my reasons for opting for a liberal and progressive party rather than a libertarian one is well detailed in the above passage from Thomas Pynchon's magnum opus and has been emphasized by Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith and the candidates - to the surprise of few - who have done their utmost to live up to the suspicions of many over the last week of the provincial campaign.
The liberty that Wild Rose speaks to is, like the version described by Pynchon above is elitist, destructive and premised on fear. When Allan Hunsperger, Wildrose candidate for Edmonton South-West made his homophobic remarks, it reflected a narrow view of liberty that insists a certain intolerant, phobic "we" be free to protect themselves from others whose differences mean and inflict no harm. That "we" feels it is appropriate and well within their rights to oppress and vilify others. There were calls for Hunsperger to step down. Those have fallen ignored by a defiant Smith who instead insists that the criticism of Hunsperger and Wildrose Calgary-Greenway candidate/homophobe Ron Leech were character-assassination by their opponents rather than the expression of clear concerns about the quality of the men who were running for the Wildrose Party and their interpretation of freedom and their ability to represent all of their constituents. Leech of course, went one better than Hunsperger by saying being caucasian made him better suited to represent all of his constituents than the candidates of other ethnic origins.
Wildrose, as Pynchon's quote suggests, have been the loudest when it comes to speaking about freedom but it is the freedom to protect their cadre of supports from their own fears at whatever the cost to others who they deem unfit to share in the freedom they demand for themselves. The capitalized "They" in Pynchon's passage is not a typo but an emphasis of the status they have assumed for themselves for the strength of their certitude. Danielle Smith's defiance that she is not against certain things but that she supports her candidates because of their right to free-speech is not the type of compromise that a leader of the province ought to be making. It is not a compromise on her part of anything other than her principles. She is staking her hopes on Albertans compromising on a government of such narrow vision and talent as the one she would cobble together to provide a wobbly replacement to the current government rather than making the stand required to communicate that Wildrose would protect the freedoms of all Albertans rather than those who carry WRP membership cards.