Saturday, October 05, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The National Post offers an excerpt from Susan Delacourt's Shopping for Votes discussing the role branding played in the election of John Diefenbaker. And Jeffrey Simpson discusses the continued drift toward consumer politics.
- But in commenting on the Nova Scotia provincial election, Ralph Surette reminds us what's lost when voting decisions are made based solely on snap impressions rather than any effort to determine who's capable of managing a government:
There have been several televised debates. To anyone watching them from the point of view of substance rather than mere performance, Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil has lost them all and Premier Darrell Dexter has won them all — but the Liberal numbers kept rising.

Dexter’s desperate narrative is, alas, the only coherent one in this whole thing. He’s pointing to progress in some domains and admitting to mistakes (itself a novelty in politics) in others that he’s promising to address in a second mandate, especially now that the budget is tentatively balanced.

The Liberals were surprised a little over a year ago by a poll putting them in the game and have been madly stitching up policy since. They’ve hit onto some superficial hot buttons — health, power rates, corporate incentives — but when questioned about the implications, McNeil reverts to his set rhetoric, avoids the question, and in fact sounds like a tired old incumbent back on his heels.
Under the circumstances, a Liberal government is unlikely to cheer anyone, including Liberal voters themselves. Nothing has been properly thought out, and unless McNeil backs off from some of his simplicities, Nova Scotia politics is heading back into the old stewpot from whence it came. But backing off — or breaking promises — in the face of the most cynical voters in the country (in my estimation) would hardly keep the peace.

I desperately hope I’m wrong about this, but after watching Nova Scotia politics for close to 45 years, some of the old queasy feeling is back.
- Meanwhile, Charles Pierce writes that the Republicans have taken politics based on pure branding to its logical conclusion by completely detaching themselves from any sense that the political system should be used to help actual people. And Lana Payne wonders what happened to the common good in political discussions.

- Finally, Kapil Khatter points out how medical decisions can be influenced and manipulated by big pharma - both in fabricating "needs" to be met by whatever drug a particularly company wants to peddle, and in using academic structures to sell a particular drug as the answer.

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