Election campaigns are short wars, that can come once every few years, or longer, but they are about creating a perception, in the mind of the voter. Get a good perception going, you stand a good chance of winning.
Time is short, so a lot of details get left out, as after all, it is about what we perceive, that matters. Or so it goes, & I think is rather true.
My Perception of Stephen Harper is that he is wrong for Canada. He reminds me of Josheph Macarthy, the US Senator who went on a Communist Witch Hunt.
Yet, when this election was called, while he was out of the picture ( Harper that is ) for getting my Vote, the other leaders were all pretty even. Well, except for Gilles Duceppe. I kind of liked him, after the 2008 debates, but I don’t live in Quebec, so he too was out of the picture, for getting my Vote.
That left me with Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, & Elizabeth May.
With the debate issue coming out of the gate, I was disappointed in Elizabeth May & her party’s obsession with it. Frankly, I think if she’d have used other media devices, instead of dwelling on the Debate, she’d have perhaps gotten a bit more interest from me, and from others too.
While I strongly opposed the decision by the Media Consortium, I think Elizabeth May could have parlayed that into some real headlines. I mean why not simply speak out, asking the other leaders, point blank, to insist on her inclusion? Get them on the Record for refusing, or supporting. The Media would HAVE TO HAVE covered that.
Again it goes to PERCEPTION. Had she done that, had the other leaders waffled, it would have given people a perception that they were just the old gang, protecting their own asses. IT might have spurred more interest in her Party, which in turn, could have created more revenues, and more media attention.
The Leaders Debate format, was more to Harper’s benefit, than the others. It gave the perception of him being ganged up on, and it prevented any real discussion, debate, on the responses. It was a joke really, and even a poor performance by Harper, would still leave a perception of him being the underdog.
That certainly wasn’t a smart move by the other political parties.
There is no doubt that the Attack Ads, run by Harper, were effective. However, in my mind, they were effective simply because no one bothered to counter them.
I don’t mean in running their own attack ads, though the NDP & Liberals did, but counter the attack ads in a way, that actually answers, or debunks them. Such as the one about Ignatieff only being here for himself, not for Canadians. Or the one about him wanting to raise taxes, the one about not taking a GST Hike off the table.
Explaining those ads, answering them, would have given a perception of someone who stands up to lies, who fights back against bullies. That perception, would have gone a long way to boosting the Liberal Auroa.
By not answering those attack ads, Ignatieff allowed himself to come across as weak. I mean seriously, if the guy wouldn’t defend himself, how can I, a simple voter, expect him to defend National Health Care, Education, the Economy, or more importantly, standing up to the demands of a forceful US President?
Jack Layton did defend himself. He did fight back, and today he is the leader of the Opposition. Kind of proves my point, that if you are willing to fight the lies, fight the bullies, people will perceive you to be strong.
IF you want the top job, you need to fight for it. You can’t play on a different field than the other guys, which is what the Opposition Parties pretty well did. They didnt enter this election ready, nor did they come out swinging. They conceded the high ground to Harper, when it should have been theirs.
That perception alone, helped seal their defeat. Only the fighting spirit of Jack Layton, was able to mitigate some of that perception. At least he eventually showed up, ready to fight. Too bad neither Ignatieff or May, or Duceppe did.
Things might have been different last Monday.