Thursday, May 16, 2013

That Vision Thing

Tom Walkom's analysis of the BC election is interesting.  In the end, he writes, British Columbians were asked to choose between two negatives:

On Tuesday, B.C. voters were left with two negative questions: Did they hate the Liberals enough to get rid of them? Or did they fear the New Democrats enough to avoid them?

In the end, they chose fear over hate.

Fear seems to be the operative word these days. It was fear that was at the heart of Adrian Dix's campaign. Like Stephen Harper, Dix didn't offer a vision. He simply portrayed himself as an incrementalist:

Throughout the campaign, Dix did his best to reassure voters that the new New Democrats had been thoroughly defanged. Unlike the NDP governments of Dave Barrett in the 1970s and Glen Clark in the ’90s, he insisted it had no plans to do anything remarkable.

This time, however, the NDP was determined to portray itself as bland. Dix may have been Glen Clark’s chief of staff during the tumultuous ’90s. But his campaign motto this time was minimalist: “one practical step at a time.”

His promises — such as one to ensure that nursing home residents receive two rather than just one bath a week — were underwhelming.

That strategy gave Stephen Harper a majority government. Now Canadian corporations are sitting on $500 billion of dead money.Tom Mulcair and Andrea Horvath should be taking notes. Canadians are looking for what the first President Bush called "that vision thing."



Lorne said...

Owen, I was watching a video yesterday of Cornell West speaking last month in NYC during which he reminds all of us of our deeper obligations. While I know that few politicians are possessed of the ability to deeply inspire through their rhetoric, I couldn't help but think about the same issue you pose here: Where is the overarching vision amongst our 'leaders'?? Where is there someone with the purity of intent who can truly inspire us?

thwap said...

Unless it's Justin Trudeau. Then, he's got to play his cards close to his chest so that harper won't get a head-start in attacking them.

Plus, he's a vision (of loveliness) all on his own!

Owen Gray said...

Politicians with vision are truly rare. Lorne. Most of them are manipulators who see as far as the next elections -- and make course changes based upon that reality.

Trudeau had his Just Society. Lincoln believed that we should be ruled by our "better angels." Such people are few and far between.

Owen Gray said...

There is a lot of hope riding on the younger Trudeau, thwap. At this point, however, we still don't know if that hope is warranted.

Anonymous said...

With a projected lead of 20% in the polls pre-election, just how the hell does anybody figure that clarke "won" a majority? Sounds like the same kind of "win" as harper pulled off last time.

Owen Gray said...

We should be skeptical, Anon. But, so far, it sounds like the NDP vote collapsed.

The Mound of Sound said...

Owen, it came down to distrust trumping disgust. Old people vote, young people won't. Old people are really easy to scare and Christy knew how to do just that.

Owen Gray said...

That's another two negatives, Mound. Youth see that, as Martin Luther King said, there is nothing for which to vote.

Anonymous said...

Addendum to anonymous 9:06--with a 20% NDP projected lead in the polls--my bad

Owen Gray said...

Duly noted, Anon. However that may be, there must be a lot of BCers who are bitterly disappointed.

e.a.f. said...

Being a good leftie being disappointed in the election results is natural. The loss isn't. It was made by the campaign strategy. There wasn't a clear vision. If nothing else they might have decided to make education the main event. Surrey has so many portables it will require 10 new schools. Only one is being built. The rest of the school districts aren't that different.

The NDP didn't list the "crimes" of the lieberals or remind voters of what the lieberals have done in B.C. Being nice doesn't work. To win in B.C. you need to be like Barrett, Harcourt, and Glen Clark. You need to hussle, you need to take the attack, you need to conduct yourself well, you need to have a little szille. Like they used to say, you aren't selling the steak, you're selling the sizzle.

What will happen in B.C. in the next 10 yrs is not going to be nice. B.C. has the 2nd highest poverty rate for children in Canada. That was an improvement over the previous 8 when we were first place.

There are only 63 psychiatric beds in the province for children. Yes, try to imagine what it is like to have a child with realllly severe mental health issues. No help. The number of children who die in foster care isn't something you can even think about.

There is a new roof on B.C. Place, which went $200M over budget. The convention centre went over budget by the same amount. So there went a billion dollars but a new Children's Hospital? Not happening. Various community charities are still trying to raise money for that.

The lieberals have been giving away our natural resources for 12 yrs. Now they have another 4 yrs to "give away" what little is left. The mines will be opening. The piplines will be laid and the ships with tar will go up and down our coast, and then down into the ocean.

The eastern shores of Canada are starting to look good because there isn't much left in B.C. and lord help you if you need to go into hospital. They are so dirty, Burnaby Gen. had 83 people die of infections in 2 1/2 yrs.

Dix should have run a more aggressive campaign. The Greens should have stayed out of a number of ridings. They contributed to a loss in at least 6 ridings although some may suggest 14.

Owen Gray said...

It sounds like the progressive vote is as split in B.C. as it is federally, e.a.f.

Until progressives get their act together, the whole country will get more of the same.

Dana said...

"Until progressives get their act together, the whole country will get more of the same."

Owen, I used to think it would take the self-absorbed among the LPC and NDP until about midway thru Harper's second majority.

Now I think it might take longer than that.

I don't believe Canada will survive the next 20 years intact.

Apathy and antipathy from politicians at all levels and especially among the population will allow corporate interests to rend the federation asunder in order to take, not buy, the natural resources of the land, including water.

For those who are able to and young enough I recommend relocating as soon as possible.

Owen Gray said...

As much as your conclusion depresses me, Dana, I admit that it is a distinct possibility.

Canada has always been more of a state of mind than a geographical entity. That state of mind has held a geographically and culturally diverse country together.

If the Harperites manage to change the Canadian state of mind, they will change the country -- and the damage will have been done.

e.a.f. said...

The country splitting some time in the future, its possible but if we get rid of Harper that may not happen. Of course those who voted for him may just continue to vote for the like minded.

If the cons continue to have some more situations such as the one with Duffy, who knows they may go.

The progressives aren't going to get together any time soon. The Greens have an agenda which has little to do with every day life, i.e. how to make a living, health care, education, etc. Things which work in europe don't necessarily work in north america given the distances involved. If the Green continue as they are, they will only ensure the NDP won't be elected to govern. An "enviornment first" position is good but when people aren't making enough money to feed and house their children, they aren't going to buy into it.

Dana said...

I think they already have, Owen.

And I don't think it can be undone.

Owen Gray said...

If we could arrange some form of proportional representation, e.a.f., there might be some hope.

PR necessitates co-operation.
I know, however, that PR in Canada is unlikely.

Owen Gray said...

Over thirty years ago -- when I was a student at the University of Manitoba -- a history professor -- who I admired -- said that the breakup of the country was inevitable, Dana.

He may have been right.