“It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy.”
-Barack Obama, speaking about his campaign in his 2008 Victory Speech.
With an election around the corner, and having re-watched The West Wing, I’m in full-on political strategist mode. As such, I’ve developed a 10-point plan for the left (both voters and politicians alike) to defeat Stephen Harper in 2015. If you haven’t read points 1 through 5 here they are.
6. “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Apologies for the ableist slur; this is in reference to Bill Clinton’s campaign slogan from 1992, when he successfully made America’s sagging economy the central issue of the election. Whereas the right tends to win when national defence is the main issue, the left wins when the economy/environment/social issues are at the forefront. This was true for Bush II in 2004 as well as Obama in 2008.
It’s basic Art of War stuff. If you shift the conversation to a subject wherein it is already perceived that you are strong, you are then arguing from a position of strength, irrespective of the veracity of your claims. The loonie is in the shitter and we’ve lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs. Veterans aren’t being cared for and Harper remains disinterested in missing and murdered indigenous women. If you’re on the left, talking about these things instead of national defence is the path of least resistance.
7. When criticizing the CPC, emphasize the leader. When praising the NDP or LPC, emphasize the parties.
Sad fact time: Harper is the most “Prime Ministerial” of all the leaders. Trudeau comes off as naive and spoiled, Mulcair comes off as an ineffectual teddy bear, and May comes off as a capricious activist. None of these impressions are fair, and they’re all rooted in stereotypes.
Without even trying, Harper looks like a collected, mature statesman with the experience to lead a nation.
I know, barf.
Mulcair needs to joke about his blandness and Trudeau needs to joke about his youth. Don’t try to confound the expectation when you can disarm the premise. (May just needs to keep being May because she’ll do so vote-splittingly well in the debate, we’ll think she’s a Conservative operative)
There’s a reason Republicans invoke Lincoln and Reagan. It’s the same reason Mulcair and Trudeau need to invoke Layton and Pearson; it takes the focus off whether they lack that “Presidential” quality. This is subliminal stuff.
But when it comes to issues where the CPC is weak, absolutely make that about Harper. The Conservatives are already doing this with Trudeau and it’s effective.
8. Play the “If Harper were PM when” thought experiment.
I’m clueless as to why no one has done this yet.
If Harper were PM in the early 2000s, we’d have participated in the disastrous invasion of Iraq. Legalizing gay marriage in 2004 would not have been a priority.
If Harper were PM in the 1990’s, we’d have stricter internet controls, more carbon emissions, and the CIBC/TD + BMO/RBC mergers would have been approved, setting us up for a far worse fate when the financial system crashed in 2008.
If Harper were PM in the 1980s, no Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
If Harper were PM in the 1970’s, we’d have been in Vietnam. 1960’s, no universal healthcare. The stuff for which we’re envied by the world — none of it.
9. We need a “Joe the Veteran”.
If swing voters see Harper as pragmatic, he wins. If they see him as callous, he loses.
Stats on Veterans Affairs offices being closed are moving, but not as moving as a face being put on it. Rick Mercer’s buddy, Paul is a veteran. He lost both his legs in Afghanistan, and has to prove each year to the Harper (see what I did there?) Government that they haven’t grown back.
Same applies to any other issue. A human face on one now-unemployed Target employee is worth all the other faceless people who’ve lost their jobs combined.
10. Stop being so gosh darned Canadian on social media.
As of this writing, here are the numbers of shares for the last ten Facebook posts for each party.
CPC: 23, 330, 217, 608, 251, 485, 628, 65, 328, 2333.
NDP: 4, 0, 223, 5, 1, 2069, 79, 18, 6, 1.
LPC: 12, 167, 53, 0, 1, 3, 56, 0, 35, 851.
GRN: 1407, 17, 1, 0, 3, 306, 2, 144, 427, 16.
Avg. shares per post.
Surprisingly high for the Greens and low for the Liberals, though all 3 opposition parties seem more prone to outliers than the CPC, which consistently gets more shares. The two NDP outliers were the Rick Mercer Rant I mentioned (proving point #9) and a post about what the NDP/CPC propose for the middle class. The one GRN outlier was a post on Harper’s economic record, and the one LPC outlier was about the long-form census. Argue from your perceived strengths; get more shares, get more audience.
The average Facebook user has 338 friends. Multiplied by 527 that’s 178,126 people seeing each CPC post. The CPC has 111,271 ‘likes’ on Facebook, 50,000 more than the 2nd place Liberals. Given how well the CPC polls with older voters, the message is clear: Our parents our beating us at social media.
The lesson: If you intend on voting for a particular party, ‘like’ them and SHARE THEIR POSTS!! While we’re busy posting selfies, our baby boomer relatives are using social media to share political information and convince others to vote for a party that is mortgaging our future.
Stop worrying about how your Conservative uncle or coworker will react when your post on Harper’s laundry list of scandals shows up in their news feed, and start worrying about what will happen if your friends who lean towards not voting at all don’t see it.
Post things. Encourage others to share them. Stop being so goddamn nice.