Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flanagan's Plan to Get a Majority: Dupe the People

After reading Tom Flanagan's piece today, I think we may have learned who was behind the "Dirty Tricks" manual.

The Globe article, is meant to show the Conservative minority government how to parlay that into a majority. Fair enough. It's certainly no secret that this is Harper's one and only goal and of course, it's to be expected, of any minority. His advice on how to achieve it however, should leave a bad taste in any one's mouth.

Politics has been called a blood sport and there is no question that it is not for the faint of heart, but it's time that lines were drawn. What Flanagan lays out is nothing short of a guide on how to "fool" Canadians, into believing one thing, when all the while, you plan something else. Political junkies will not show any particular surprise when reading that. We all know that this has been the plan all along. Canadians who do not follow these things, should pay close attention however, you are about to be fooled and Harper is counting on your complacency to do it.

Flanagan's piece begins with his assertion that there is no way that the government will fall, following the Throne Speech. Given Duceppe's recent declaration, I'd say Flanagan's assertion is weak. Furthermore, he goes on to employ his strategy in writing this:

Much as he (Harper) might like an early race, election dates are now fixed by legislation and he can't just ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament. The opposition must pass a no-confidence vote, and that just got a lot less likely.

Of course he can write his Throne Speech in a way that would force the opposition to vote against it, so yes, he can engineer an election. Flanagan is being disingenuous of course, but then goes on to instruct the Con's to follow his lead.

He lays it out in the context of the Ten Commandments. Ironic, no? I'm sure there is something in the original list that speaks to "bearing false witness". Anyway, here they are:

1. Unity
The party contains libertarians, social conservatives, populists, Red Tories, Quebec nationalists and Canadian nationalists, plus many people who don't care much about any of these "isms." They all need each other. They can never win unless they try to understand each other and reach compromises that they can all live with.

They don't actually all need each other. Each is a movement in it's own right. They need to shut-up of course and stick together, but I suspect that this is going to be a bit more difficult as time goes on. Perhaps not in the immediate future, but with time, I think these disparate groups will realise that their particular ideals will never be realised, under this manufactured, as opposed to natural, big tent. Lying to his own, imo.

2. Moderation
Canada is not yet a conservative or Conservative country. The party can't win if it veers too far to the right of the average voter.
In times of perceived crisis, a conservative party can win by positioning itself further to the right, as shown by the victories of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris and Gordon Campbell. But Canadians don't perceive themselves in crisis right now.

This one in particular burns me. He's right when he says that Canada is not a small or large C, conservative country. He says "yet", expressing the desire to shift a nation. He ignores the fact that we've deliberately not become what he desires. It's not by accident, nor can he argue it's because the Lib's have held power so long. The reason they have, is because that is what the majority of Canadians wanted. Conservatism has done it's self no favours of late. Whether it be in Canada, the US or Australia, and I have no doubt we'll see more from France, the attitude is not palatable to most of us.

What is particularly irksome though, is his contention that in times of crisis, people vote Conservative, conjuring the spectre of "manufactured crisis", as we have seen in the US. Beyond manufactured, even a real crisis, is something that the Conservatives choose to exploit, to shape what they see as a malleable populace. Disgusting. Lie to the people, whether it's real or not...and scare them while you're at it.

3. Inclusion
The traditional Conservative base of anglophone Protestants is too narrow to win modern Canadian elections. While preserving that base, we have to appeal to francophones, Roman Catholics (44 per cent of the population, according to the 2001 census) and other racial and religious minorities. The key to the long-term success of the Liberals has been their cultivation of minority groups. Conservatives have to take away that advantage.
Conservatives will not win a majority government simply by adding seats in Quebec, although that will be part of the formula. They also must add seats elsewhere and that means doing better with ethnic voters. The suburbs of Toronto, Vancouver and, to a lesser extent, other cities are now filling up with new Canadians who, based on their social values and capitalist work ethic, should be natural Conservative voters, but who are still emotionally tied to the Liberal Party.
Conservatives must break the Liberal hegemony over Italian, Chinese, South Asian and other ethnic voters. That doesn't mean getting all their votes, but it does mean getting a bigger share, in order to win the suburban ridings that a conservative party would ordinarily expect to win.

While he may be correct in referring to some groups sharing some social values and work ethic with the con's, he ignores the value that immigrants place in the social institutions in this country. The same institutions that Harper is slowly but surely dismantling. Again, the mandate is lie. The Lib's have to honestly counter the narrative that is sure to come from the con's. The good news, Jason Kenney heads up that file.

4. Incrementalism
Conservatives must be willing to make progress in small, practical steps. Sweeping visions have a place in intellectual discussion, but they are toxic in practical politics.
Incrementalism is the twin of moderation. Small conservative reforms are less likely to scare voters than grand conservative schemes, particularly in Canada, where conservatism is not yet the dominant public philosophy. In any case, incrementalism is intrinsically the right approach for a conservative party.
Modern conservatism has its origins in Edmund Burke's critique of the sweeping radicalism of the French Revolution. "We must all obey the great law of change," he wrote. "It is the most powerful law of nature, and the means perhaps of its conservation. All we can do, and that human wisdom can do, is to provide that the change shall proceed by insensible degrees."

Translation: Take very small steps, lest you "scare" Canadians. They are not up for what you really stand for, so dupe them into thinking you're pretty moderate. When you get your majority, screw it. They were stupid enough to buy the lie, so now you have the right to implement anything you want. They gave you the mandate after all. In other words, lie. Hmmm, who else did that? Oh yeah, Bush comes to mind.

5. Policy
We have to develop well-thought-out policies and communicate them effectively. Since conservatism is not yet dominant, our policies may sometimes run against conventional wisdom. The onus is on us to help Canadians understand what they are voting for.
A political campaign is an extended exercise in rhetoric, mobilizing ethos (character), pathos (emotion) and logos (reason) to persuade millions of people to vote for the candidates of your party. People don't vote just for good ideas; they vote for potential rulers whose character they can trust and who inspire passions of loyalty and support.
Conservative statecraft has to be more than the logical deduction of policies from philosophical premises if it is going to succeed. It has to be an artistic combination of sound policy with the deft communication of conservative values, such as integrity, reliability and fortitude.

Again, the instruction here is: Lie and dumb it down. Visualise yourself patting heads, thinking they just don't get it, so we'll keep it simple, stupid.

6. Self-discipline
The media are unforgiving of conservative errors, so we have to exercise strict discipline at all levels.
There must be a complete plan for the campaign, so the leader is not forced to improvise. Staff must avoid the limelight and let the communications department deal with the media. Candidates must talk about the platform, not their personal beliefs, and (except for designated spokesmen) concentrate on local rather than national media. Members and supporters must be careful and dignified in all their communications, even e-mail and Web postings.
The media can be savage with any party that lacks discipline, but they are particularly suspicious of conservatives. There is no point complaining about it; the situation is the same everywhere in the democratic world. But it means that conservative parties must put special emphasis on self-discipline to win elections.

I have no idea what he is reading, but there is far more evidence that the media is harder on the Lib's, than anyone else. I know it's a mantra within conservative circles, that media is out to get them, but it's BS. He is right though, when he says that the media pounces on a party that lacks discipline, but all he is saying here is, keep your guy's muzzled. Flanagan is admitting that they have loose cannons, nuts. He doesn't address that problem, he just says, shut them up. How you do that during a campaign, I'm not sure, but I'm sure they will all have their scripts to lie by.

7. Toughness
You cannot win by being Boy Scouts. Conservatives have to conduct thorough opposition research and make use of the results, run hard-hitting, fact-based negative ads, and do whatever is legally possible to jam our opponents' communications and disrupt their operations.
The Conservatives were ambivalent about playing hardball in 2004. In 2006, however, Tory advertising went for the jugular and it paid off. Their war-room messages also scored heavily against the Liberals (especially with their campaign jet's "beer and popcorn" rejoinder and the income-trust investigation).
Another point for consideration is how to respond when other parties play hardball. Mr. Harper set the right tone during the last campaign in a squabble with the Liberals' Paul Martin about who was in bed with the separatists. When the media asked him if he wanted an apology, he said simply, "I don't go around demanding apologies. I can take a punch."

This is nothing more than bringing American strategy here. Go negative...all the way. Insert what you consider to be fact and run.

Of course they distort fact and for the record, I thought the Martin ad that never ran, "soldiers in the streets", was beyond stupid. To the point though, he suggests, go mean. Distort and destroy. To the Liberal advantage this time around, no distortion necessary. The con's have given us all the fact we need.

8. Grassroots politics
Victories are earned one voter at a time. Door-knocking, voter identification and Get Out The Vote programs make up the holy trinity that wins close races. Conservatives must extend their lead over other parties in ground-level campaigning and grassroots fund-raising.
All political parties need to raise money, identify supporters and mobilize volunteers, so they all make use of the same methods, to varying degrees. But grassroots politics is particularly critical. A conservative party stresses individual choice and responsibility in a competitive marketplace. That gives it a special responsibility to deal with voters as individuals, to find out what their concerns are, and to give them a stake in the political process by making it easy for them to donate time and money.
Moreover, the Conservative Party draws heavily on the legacy of Preston Manning. His vision of the Reform Party as a neo-populist revival did not lead to forming a government, but it triggered an ongoing organizational revolution of political parties. As Mr. Manning's heirs, Conservatives have to be in the forefront of creating a party that is easy for individuals to join, encourages donation and volunteerism and is committed to winning elections one voter at a time.

On this point, I cannot disagree and this is where the Lib's need to move.

9. Technology
We are living in the biggest, fastest-moving communications revolution in human history. Each election campaign features new technologies. We must continue to be at the forefront in adapting new technologies to politics.
Right now, Conservatives are the grassroots party of Canadian politics. They have to keep using technology to mobilize the grassroots in ways that no one has ever dreamed of. As students of German philosopher Friedrich Hayek, they believe in the market as a process of discovery. It is only logical for them to be in the forefront of applying to politics the technological marvels produced by human ingenuity in a market economy.

While there are many comments that could be made here, specifically to the last para, I'll refrain and state that indeed, technology has not been used enough and should be exploited, on all sides.

10. Persistence
Campaigning is a tough business and mistakes are frequent. We have to correct errors, learn from experience and keep pushing ahead.
The Harper team certainly has no grounds for complacency. The Liberals are cunning and experienced and have enormous bench strength. They are the best-established brand in Canadian politics and the Conservatives still have a lot to learn from them.
The New Democrats and the Bloc Québécois are not national parties in the same sense, but they are equally tough competitors on their own turf. The next election will be not just a street fight but a brawl, as the other parties go all-out to recapture ground taken away from them.
But even if complacency is not in order, the team should have a little confidence, based on its achievements. In just a few years, they were able to stop the supposedly unstoppable Mr. Martin. The next time out, they have a chance to make Mr. Harper the one who is unstoppable.

False hope. There was no way that Martin was unstoppable. Pulleeze, he was in an untenable position. Harper cashed in on that and this list of commandments, ending with this gem, shows just how much they are living in a delusional world.

That's the hell of it. It's all delusion, illusion and lies. We're better than this and I tip my hat to Flanagan for telling us, up front what we've always known. Your party will lie, deceive, dedelud and dupe Canadians, in order to gain power and shove us in a direction we have no desire to go in. Congrat's. I'm not so sure Harper is pleased with the exposure.

Sorry for the long post folks, but if you stuck through it, thank you for bearing witness to my frustration. I'm sure there are ton's of typo's, but I had to get it out.


A Eliz. said...

The dirty RATS,SCUM...could they get any lower.I cannot imagine what will come with a majority !

Scotian said...

Excellent work KNB, simply excellent. As I am sure you are aware I know all about Flanagan and his approach/thinking, classic Straussian big lie approach to politics. As you correctly noted his entire premise is based on a lie, the idea that his kind of conservative ideology/values can be sold to the majority in this country, despite the clear evidence to the contrary. I found the media strategy component particularly revealing about the paranoia and the willingness of the top levels of the CPC leadership to believe in mythology like the idea that it is the norm in democracies that the media are always out to hurt conservatives, something clearly not the case in NA, as shown by studies in Canada and the clear conservative media bias that has existed for many years in the US MSM.

Flanagan is one of the reasons I have feared Harper's idea of Canada for quite a long time now, and one of those I refer to whenever I cite the Calgary School as he is a fellow supporter of its beliefs. It is also interesting to note how many of the conservative principles listed in that article are rooted in American conservative principles, not Canadian rooted principles of conservativism. That speaks volumes for what kind of horror these folks would bring to the national government and their clear preference towards significant to radical devolution of powers as is consistent with the conservative thinking of America that government is always a bad actor/thing and has no place in the business of business and should be shrunk as much as possible regardless of whether the majority of the population agrees with that thinking which is not supported within the Canadian society when openly discussed (those big scary conservative ideas he mentions and the need for incremental implementation to sneak it in the back door by).

Conservativism in Canadian terms saw government as a tool to help preserve/conserve Canadian principles and approaches, not as the enemy as clearly the CPC and Flanagan does. This article only underscores just how much the CPC is influenced/driven by American conservative principles and approaches to politics and not Canadian, and I want governments and parties in this country to be rooted in political philosophies/principles of this country, which Harper and Flanagan's CPC clearly is not. One of the more serious dangers of importing one's political beliefs and tools wholesale from another country is that it was not designed/intended for the new nation’s political context and can and usually does do significant damage to that society if actually implemented. This is especially true between America and Canada given the fundamental and fairly extreme differences between our two political cultures, especially these days given the domination of the hard right conservatives within America over the past decade or so. Given that traditional Canadian Conservativism would fit into the middle to far left in the American context it shows just how far to the extreme right in the Canadian context one is going whenever one imports GOP/movement conservative tools and beliefs to the Canadian context as Flanagan and Harper have done.

Anonymous said...

Frightening - that the neo-cons supporters have been shown a blatent lie and won't see it.

Flannigan is American born and came to Canada with his American neo-conservative Republican ideology.

Harper is scary and I don't care if people laugh at me saying so. Afghanistan, environment, social services, etc. - if he gets a majority scares the hell out of me.

All we have to do is see what's happened in the US to know the result, but neo-cons supporters don't or don't want to see it.

Ti-Guy said...

Flannigan is American born and came to Canada with his American neo-conservative Republican ideology.

You can't help but think that with these types among the Harperites (and there a lot of them), what motivates them is to try out the ideas that have failed so spectacularly in their native land in some virgin territory, like Canada, where extreme individualism and culture viewed solely in terms of economic transactions are considered alien and thus, to some people (people mostly ignorant of history), refreshingly novel.

Anyway, the more Flanagan talks, the less I understand what he means by conservative.

Karen said...

Scotian, I completely agree on the importing of another country's political system, especially this one.

You know, it's fashionable for the "far right" to call anyone who criticises the current US administration as "anti-American". That's usually followed by some derogatory remark about Canada and our lack of identity. I've always maintained that we do have an identity and it's light years away from the American's. Culturally and politically, there is so much light between us, I find it laughable that the right are blind to it. But, I suppose it's willful isn't it. They accuse anyone left of them as bashing the US, because we are jealous.

I'd say it's the other way around. Their so jealous of what they see in the States, that they want to import it here.

The real tragedy though, is that the CPC depend on ignorance in order to achieve their goal and wish for a crisis in order to better exploit it.

Karen said...

Anon, the only people who laugh at that statement are the one's that Harper has duped.

This hiding in plain sight has worked for them so far. The media certainly has fallen for it, they too mock the term scarey.

We seem to have a pretty unintelligent bunch covering the Hill these days...that or they are all on side.

Karen said...

ti-guy, that may indeed be their motivation, but given the proximity of the US, it seems rather foolish.

Who has greater exposure to that country's goings- on than we do?

Then again, as I said, they depend on the ignorance of the electorate.

Karen said...

btw Scotian, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone this is actually my second post. I've done another post on (The right is where its at),but I've been reeding the blogs for a while now.

KNB you go and see what he has said about the Left wing blogs.You criticize the right,because they call
the left wing blogs anti-American etc etc. But you people take it
that they call the left
in general anti-American.

You know you people on the left wing blogs are very much Paranoid with
a capital (P).

Karen said...

Anon...John, you don't actually think that you won't be noticed for who you are?

Bad try pal.

This is far too deep a discussion for you anyway. Go back to your blog, decry the left, (which means the NDP in this country, btw), and watch for comments.

Way too obvious...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

KNB if your talking about anon 5:58 PM my
name isn't John.

I don't know why you would use my post and credit someone else for it,its stupid.

If you don't like anonymous don't allow
it. What is the problem
with you ?

Scotian said...


No problem, besides I said nothing other than what I genuinely thought of this post. Unlike some I don't give empty praise.