I’ve been giving some thought lately to what drives change (or not) during an election and I have a few hypotheses that I’d like to muse about and relate them to each of the party leaders in the coming election.
When things are going well, of course people will vote the ruling party in again. But when things aren’t going well, people will vote for change. It doesn’t even matter why things aren’t going well and it may not even be anybody’s fault.
A ruling party cannot campaign on a policy of holding the line or keeping the course steady when things aren’t going well. When people are looking for change, they’ll vote in change. Governments need to at least seem to be listening to people and to give the appearance of change. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you’re looking for change, you won’t get it by keeping things the same.
We need hope. In difficult times when the economy is stagnate and jobs are being lost, crime rates increase among our youth because they’ve lost hope. The solution isn’t to toughen the laws or build more jails; we need to examine the root causes. Our young people need hope for their future, that they can get affordable education and training, find jobs and affordable housing. When the middle class is losing jobs, or losing their houses, and may be facing an uncertain future or retirement, they also need hope. Hope may very well be the most important thing in any election.
Our leaders must inspire hope. When they speak to us, their words must compel us to believe them, to follow them, to fill us with hope. Not everyone can do this, it takes a special kind of passion and charisma. John F. Kennedy had it. Martin Luther King Jr. had it. Ghandi had it. In my lifetime, Pierre Trudeau had it. I voted for Chretien (sorry) because he had it. I’ll call it the Leadership Gene.
Paul Martin had it. He was a steadying influence that calmed us down and made us believe everything was going to be okay. He connected with voters, as a businessman and as a father figure.
Justin Trudeau has it. The Conservatives can run all the negative ads they want about him not being ready, but let’s face it – he’s just the guy out front – the face of the party. Behind him is a well-oiled machine. They’ll make him ready. He already has more experience than his father did when he was first elected PM. He’s definitely a contender.
The biggest mistake the Liberals kept making in the past was electing intellectuals to lead the party. You can make all the jokes you want about Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, but intellectually they were brilliant. They belonged in the party behind the charismatic leader; they lacked the Leadership Gene. When you combine the lack of charisma with the growing mistrust of intellectuals, it’s easy to see why they failed to gain momentum.
Elizabeth May has it as well. When she speaks, I find myself nodding my head in agreement with most of what she says. She speaks with passion. The party behind her isn’t ready yet though, but I’m looking forward to watching them grow and maybe someday they’ll be ready for her.
Thomas (Tom) Mulcair has a certain amount of it. He’s definitely riding the wave of change, buoyed by the recent victory of the NDP in Alberta. Let’s face it though, he isn’t Jack Layton. We want to trust him, but there’s something holding us back. Maybe it’s the dual citizenship with France. Maybe it’s his history when he was a Liberal in Quebec and supported separatism. Something worries me.
Harper completely lacks passion and charisma (in my opinion), and that will be his downfall. He comes across as cold and calculating. He recites party lines despite being proved wrong time and time again. He appears almost delusional in his denial that Canada is in a recession (despite the overwhelming proof). The party behind him isn’t exactly a stellar example either, with all the scandals and criminal charges. The smart Conservatives have fled the ship; only the original Reformers remain and now Stephen Harper is going to import talent from outside the country to help get his campaign on track.
Peter Van Loan is the incumbent in my area. He spent $60,469 on advertising and printing (2008 to 2009), compared to the average of $47,014. He has spent $362,977 on self promotion for flyers, advertising and mailing costs, from 2009 to 2015. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick and tired of getting these in my mail every week.
Thanks to Peter Van Loan, $654,747 of our tax dollars has been spent on similar type things over an 11 year period. There must be a better way to communicate in this technological age that doesn’t cost so much, or kill so many trees.
Okay, let me make things a bit more personal. I’m often asked these days who I’m voting for. I am not a member of any political party. I did contribute a very small amount to the Liberals two years ago, but when the Liberal party supported Bill C-51, I destroyed the card and unsubscribed from all liberal emails. Besides, I can’t stand the provincial liberals and they seem to share the same email lists. I didn’t want my support of the federal liberals to indicate support of the provincial liberals.
So, how am I voting? I know one thing for sure – I want the Conservatives out. That’s my bias. I want change. According to www.votetogether.ca that may mean voting for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative incumbent in my area.
Other than that, I’m still listening.
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