Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On defining themes

I've pointed out previously that the Libs' advantage during the federal election came from the fact that the primary message against them was one which could be disproven. And it's worth also noting the converse of that: the Libs' own theme of "real change" was difficult for anybody to disprove during a campaign in the absence of any power to demonstrate what that meant.

But now that the Libs have a majority, they can be evaluated directly against their their own standard with no room for excuses. And it's worth laying the groundwork now to test whether they have the inclination and ability to deliver the "real change" people are expecting - or whether the promise was fake all along.


  1. Apologies if this is double posting but my browser glitched - please feel free to delete one of my posts if so.

    I think the pitfall of the "real change" rhetoric, which can also be seen in the U.S., is a misunderstanding of what it means. Real Change is a specific policy platform. There are perhaps several million ideas out in the Canadian political society about what "real change" means, which have varying relations to the policy platform, most of which have no relation to it because the people holding those opinions haven't read the platform. The fact that the Liberals have formed the government makes it no easier to "prove" or "disprove" whether real change has occurred. Most people will probably associate whether "real change" has occurred simply with whether they are satisfied with the performance of the government or not.

    Not that you or I or anyone shouldn't wish to test the Liberals by the standard of their campaign promises. We absolutely should. It's just that I do not think this is terribly likely to happen.

    And one can guess from the endorsement scandals at the Globe and the Post that the major media organizations will be less interested in accurate and impartial coverage of "real change" -- whatever this term might or might not mean -- than they will be in seeking out editorial opportunities to stump for their preferred party.

    1. Anonymous6:23 PM

      That's a good point but even if most people haven't read the Liberal Party Platform, I think they're probably still aware of some of their key promises: Deficit spending to fund infrastructure, a tax break for the middle class while increasing taxes on the wealthy, legalisation of marijuana, doing more to help refugees.

    2. Agreed that there will be a need to set the measuring sticks for "real change", and that there will be other forces (including the media) looking to set them up in different directions. But that's precisely why I think one of the most important functions of activists and opposition parties - particularly those who share nominal goals with the Libs' platform - to do everything possible to have those goals included in the governing agenda, and to frame any failure to do so as a broken promise.