Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Me, Myself and Aye

While it has been interesting to read the various post-mortems of the election and the pages and pages of advice being offered to the Liberal Party, my mind keeps drifting back to some reading I was doing pre-election.

It started with some of Susan Delacourt's writing, (and her links to others) on politicians and political parties shopping for votes. More specifically what she often refers to as Value versus Values. It's not only an interesting look at contemporary politics, but in my opinion a vital one.

While this is a simplistic overview, my interpretation of some of what I've read is this. Over time some political parties or machines, have developed methods of segmenting populations, examining their needs, producing a product/policy to fit that small segment and selling it to them. Not just selling it to them actually, but actively convincing them that they are right to want it, thereby validating their choice. Boutique politics providing value to that specific tax payer. Some argue that this kind of political marketing is just a natural evolution that fits into our 'consumer society'. Maybe, but I think it goes further than that. I think it's a strategy that feeds itself, encourages segregation/isolation of specific groups and discourages citizens from feeling part of the 'whole', or even a need to.

People end up voting for narrow issues that affect them without regard, or perhaps a realisation, of the impact elsewhere. Me, myself and aye, at the expense of the country as a whole, or at least a vision for it.

That is not to say that there is anything wrong with a certain amount of individualism, but not in the classical sense that excludes any form of communal responsibility and regard. That, I believe, is both unhealthy and unwise in a society.

So, why have I been thinking about this? Well, I believe that the Conservative party excels at 'value' politics and while the Liberal party is at the rebuilding stage, I'd hate to see us go in that direction. Furthermore, I think the crux of the 'value v. values' argument can be made within the party at this stage and may be a place we can focus on as we move forward.

It's clear that most members have no interest in the top telling or feeding it's members the goodies they perceive we want. The argument has been made by many that the desire now is to work collaboratively for the common good. That is complex, painstaking and requires compromise in order to arrive at that broader vision, one that ultimately serves all. It's an open process that moves from the traditional, 'let's find out their problems, then go away for a while so we can come back and give them the solution.' The onus is not on one person, nor one entity. It's up to all involved to work together on an ongoing basis, each playing a vital role, each with something at stake.

So, not only do I see this as an important discussion for the country, I think it may have some applications to the Liberal party as it moves forward to rebuild and clarify it's values.


WesternGrit said...

Indeed... the Conservative Party is the "Walmart" of Canadian politics. Selling cheap ideas to unwitting subscribers, often empty of substance - and certainly not better for the greater community.

We now just need to find the bookend answer to this brand of retail politics. Think of what you don't like about Walmart, and how your local store is better.

Karen said...

Indeed. There is a lot out there on this subject and I think it's an important part of moving forward.

deBeauxOs said...

Had Susan Delacourte not tweeted your excellent and timely blogpost, I might have missed it.

No votes at ProgBlogs!?!?!

What's wrong with you?!?!?

Go vote for your post. It's worth it . I just did.

Karen said...

deBeauxOs Many thanks! I appreciate your comments because I really think we should be having this discussion and would love to involve more people.

WILLY said...

I was with you right up until you said "give them the solution" because it is never just one solution. As much as the liberal party has been ridiculed as being the mushy middle, neither right nor left that was for me what made it appealing. The single solution is more like the brand marketing of Harper, Layton and Walmart.

There is a lot a talk about the rebuilding of the Liberal party and how it must stand for something, policies that hopefully are important to Canadians. In the end you are trying to get their vote. But I hope that there is some recognition that many voters and non voters are tiring of the

WILLY said...

Sorry the damn iPad caused me to post too soon ;)

What I was rambling towards was this...

I think there will be an opportunity after 4 years of Harper for the Liberals to regain many voters from both the right & the left, if you all get your act together.

Karen said...

WILLY I'm not sure we disagree. I think there has been an era of consulting ridings, taking the laments and on both sides expecting the higher up's to solve the problem.

In more recent times, the lower power has said, no, don't just listen and solve, take our solutions. We can do this together.

Listening is good, discussion and collaboration is much more contemporary and better in my view.

You don't think the leadership of the party (many of whom I respect btw) has told us how we will go forward, what we will present?

sassy said...

"Walmart" of Canadian politics.

Can I borrow that line?


WesternGrit said...

Yes... please do (just give me credit... lol...).

Brian G. Rice said...

Good Post! One of the side effects of this kind of politics is that poeople begin to demand that all policy is related to them. "I don't have kids, so why should I care about education funding," etc. It promotes un-healthy selfisheness, and promotes division over unity.

The problem is that it is a strategy developed to counter old style campaigning. Until the LPC figures out the counter strategy to this type of campaigning (and the counter is well known and documented, it's how Obama won), we will continue to lose to this pathetic strategy. Once we prove we know how to beat them at this game, they will stop using it.

Karen said...

Thanks Brian. I think it's pretty entrenched, but agree with you, we should learn how to counter.

I'm not as convinced that they will stop using it. What I've noticed in Cda is that it is a credo of sorts. It is in the US too, but they have lived by that divide for a very long time. Here, it's new, novel. There is a giddiness to speaking out and being selfish. See SunTV, listen to talk radio in TO post the Ford election. They give license to this behaviour.

We do need to fight/counter it and it will take some time to change it.

Interestingly, I happen to think most ppl do not think this way, but don't have the time to think it through.