Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On external forces

Leadnow's latest fund-raising pitch is attracting some well-deserved criticism for once again relying (at least in part) on strategic voting in the face of ample evidence showing its futility.

But I'll point out that there's also part of Leadnow's message which looks new - and which may go a long way toward organizing the type of broader movement some of us have been hoping to see for some time:
1. Find people who didn’t vote last time: To design the best election campaign, we need to reach out in campuses and communities across the country to listen to Canadians, especially people who did not vote in the last election.

2. Create a program for action: We’ll ask people who didn’t vote in the last election about their concerns and see how their answers connect with the Leadnow community’s big picture goals on democracy, climate and inequality. Together we’ll create a program for action that will motivate people across the country.
4. Grow opposition to contain the damage: We’ve already stopped or delayed this government time and again. We’ll keep running campaigns to hold this government accountable on the issues that matter most to this community. Together, we’ll create a list of the worst damage done by this government and build a powerful campaign to get the NDP, Liberals and Greens to commit to undo that damage after the election.

5. Build support for crucial reforms: As we reach out to more and more Canadians and focus organizing in key ridings, will make sure the political parties respond to our community’s program for action on democracy, climate and inequality with strengthened commitments in their campaign platforms.
8. Undo the worst damage: After the election, we’ll work with the new government to undo some of the worst damage that’s been done in the last few years.

9. Pass crucial reforms: Now the real work begins! We’ll work together to ensure the new government passes crucial reforms to fix our broken electoral system, make Canada a climate leader and build a fair economy that reduces inequality. 
So what's important about the above plan?

First, it reflects a direct effort to reach out to non-voters.

As plenty of us have pointed out before, assorted political parties have all too often figured it's easier to win power by limiting the number of voters and assembling a plurality only within that smaller group. And the result is that a group of citizens with the numbers to radically reshape our political system has instead tuned it out altogether.

But a strong outside push to bring disaffected voters into the system could radically change the math on that type of strategy - making it more difficult for politicians of all stripes to follow their worst impulses, while also improving the odds for parties whose message appeals to voters on the margins. 

Second, Leadnow's new message speaks to the possibility of a movement using its strength to pressure all political parties to respond to a strong set of progressive values.

Left to their own devices, political parties tend to drift toward the perceived path of least resistance. Which means that if we want to see our next federal government implement real progressive change, we need to ensure that it sees less risk in pursuing that option than in simply slapping a different face onto the corporatist policy we've seen from Cons and Libs alike over the past few decades. And a vocal and well-organized progressive movement would go a long way toward changing political incentives for the better on that front as well.

Of course, there's still reason for concern that Leadnow's positive plans remain intertwined with a misplaced commitment to gaming the next federal election. But I'd much rather see people get engaged and then examine the best way to achieve results than declare the effort futile.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I like the positiveness.

    Are you going to send dough? I'm thinking about it. (Been in steady work lately.)