Michael Harris -- who I quote a lot these days -- has uncovered Stephen Harper's recipe for governing Canada:
3 cups of fear; 3 cups of information burial; 3 cups of ad hominem vilification; 1 cup of voter suppression; 1 cup of contempt of Parliament; a generous sprinkling of never-say-die lawsuits; 4 cloves of broken promises; 12 large sycophants to be found at Planning and Priorities (if you can find out where the committee meets); a dash of softness wrapped in a blue sweater (reserve this close to a piano until needed); a dollop of public money to pay for torrents of self-congratulatory messaging; and a big bunch of people with everything but a critical faculty.
It's powerful stuff. And, for those who drink the Kool Aide, it induces a combination of amnesia and ennui. What's the antidote? The Liberals hope it's Justin Trudeau. But it won't be that simple. Harris writes that successful political parties have changed the whole process of electioneering:
Now we have entered the era of identity-theft electioneering. They don’t tap at your door, they tap into your data. Instead of making up platforms on the fly, they tailor the “message” to what turns your crank.
Zooming in on individuals is big. It allows parties to draft messages that are very comforting indeed — personal messages crafted especially for you. Trouble is, you aren’t pulling the politician’s strings anymore — he’s pulling yours. Elections have become costly public relations charades that interrupt the private agenda of the big dogs until they fool you again. Winning elections, even byelections, is about controlling the process with technology, not making a policy pitch and hoping for the best.
The only hope of beating the technology of electioneering lies in developing a superb ground game, where the opposition turns out more carefully targeted votes than the Harper technocracy. Trudeau could take Stephen Harper down:
If a wave begins to build for Trudeau, if the youth vote is galvanized, if the country decides that politics matters again and goes to the polls in large numbers, if voters reject the politics of personal destruction as they did in the recent U.S. presidential race, Stephen Harper will not survive on the love of the people.
But before that happens, opposition voters will have to unite behind Justin -- or whoever becomes the progressive standard bearer.