Two Inertial Campaigns
The Conservatives in both America and Canada are running fairly different campaigns, but one thing that is similar about them is their reliance on boredom and inertia. John McCain’s campagin hinted this week that if people were bored at the debate, then thats good for him. He’s probably right. If people are bored they turn away and don’t find out how unprepared and crazy the Republican candidate is right now. In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has similarly been trying to lull the country to sleep with his sweater vests and his bland, general non-policy policies.
And it seems to be working out better for him than for McCain. Boredom and disinterest in the election tends to favour the status quo as long as nothing really bad is happening. In Canada there is no major current crisis so people feel safe leaving the government as it is. Unfortunately for Harper this may mean he gets another minority, but thats better than losing. And losing seems to be something its getting harder and harder for the Conservatives to do.
Thats because, in Canada, unlike in the US, we have no alternative to this boredom. McCain’s interial strategy won’t work against an exciting, hope filled message from Barack Obama. But Harper has the wonderful position of being able to play the boring, stable incumbent and still be more interesting than the Liberal leader Stephane Dion. Now, the Liberals are bringing in the whole team of significantly more interesting characters. But is it too late? Is there time to get everyone excited about Ignatieff and Rae being in the background? Layton is actually the one generating the most excitement, and May is close behind I think. But they aren’t plausible alternatives. They may do well. The NDP may even concievably do nearly as well as the Liberals but they aren’t in firing range of the government yet. And their energy to change just detracts from the Liberals lack of energy, leaving all the inertia to the Conservatives to coast to another government.
Well played Harper. If this were just a game I’d congratulate you. Unfortunately this is much more important than any game. I hope Layton considers the consequences of a majority Conservative government when he plans his attacks on Dion in the debate. Democracy is best served by people and parties coming together to achieve goals. I would propose a loose alliance between Liberals and NDP, to form a combined majority, or at least largest minority in parliament.
It the only way to defeat the inertial campaign, at least this time.