Monday, November 17, 2008

Hope, Change, and Liberal Leadership

If I hear the "empty" words, "change" and "hope" again during our leadership process, I'm gonna scream. More likely, I'm going to vent on this blog, and indicate how vacuous it is for a "wanna-be" Obama to mime the empty phrases...

Note to leadership contenders:
- You are not Barack Obama... Repeat after me: "I am NOT Barack Obama. I am my own person, with my own ideas, and dammit, I deserve better speech-writers!
- "Change" is not a magic word - with it's own powers. It is a word that comes with a commitment to action (somewhere along the way). Repeatedly uttering this word, without (seemingly) knowing the meaning, makes you look like the 3-year old who just learned a new word...
- "Hope" (see above)
- Be your own man (so far, no women have stepped forward - can someone please help us with this?). Discuss ideas with delegates and Canadians. Try something ground-breaking and "earth-shaking". Maybe a guarantee of 1st and 4th years of university paid for? This would improve our country in miriad ways: smarter people, more skilled workers, more knowledge of the world around us - and the respect for the world that goes with that; Try committing to absolutely fully funded healthcare (no private clinics, etc.) - take on the provinces if you need to (the people will back you); Twin the ENTIRE Trans Canada - slow economic times are ideal for such mega-projects - and it will win a lot of votes in BC, Manitoba, and Western Ontario. Commit to something.
- Get all your supporters to join the "Victory Fund" - this goes without saying
- Come talk to some of us about courting the "ethnic" vote. Oh yeah - have a plan. We don't want to simply be "heard"... we want to see someone who "understands" our issues. This plan will need to be distinct, in order to "recapture" lost ethnic support, since all the party plans are currently too similar to matter. Make clear mention of the Conservatives marginalization of minorities (see my last post about their convention resolutions), but don't just criticize - have your own plan.
- Smile a lot - Seriously. No-one likes the "surly" type. I recall doing a blog-post last election asking Mr. Dion to smile more. Even Steve cracks a smile once in a while - forced as it is... (okay, "smirk-like" is a better description)
- Go door-to-door. I'm not kidding. Preston Manning went door to door selling memberships when he formed his party. HE asked people to take out a membership if they agreed with him. He didn't wait for his "underlings" to sell memberships. It wasn't beneath him to ask for more than just their "support" on e-day... Get out in the community. Hit the local truck stops, malls, and coffee shops. Speak publicly, and win over new members - then sell them on the membership AND the Victory Fund. If you can't sell memberships in "peacetime", how could you pretend to be able to grow the party during "war" (the election)?

Okay... gonna crib from the US election now... Barack Obama reached out to new voters. This was the change, but he did it by going beyond the regional caucuses and existing Democrats. He grew the party and brought in new members. There is no reason the leadership cannot be more public. The excitement of the democratic convention and pre-convention process attracted millions of Americans. We need to do the same. Our would-be leaders need to say something interesting and something that appeals to millions, then keep saying it, and keep it interesting.

Having said all that, please, please, please, don't imitate Barack's words if you don't have substance behind you. If we all need an “Obama” or a “Kennedy” to motivate us, that doesn’t say much about the sad state of democracy in general, and our opinion of our own democracy in particular.


WesternGrit said...

ps: The "Kennedy" reference implies the "John Fitzgerald" variety...

Anonymous said...

I think it's interesting how you imply the change Obama promised had an element of substance behind it yet when one of the Liberal Leadership contenders says it you suggest it is an empty promise.

Barack Obama used the word change even before he introduced any policy or idea of what he wanted to do.

Change is a broad word.

I don't understand how you can say that when a Liberal Leadership candidate talks about change its empty when our party has declined electorally for the last 5 years to our lowest point in history; or that our finances have declined for even longer; or that Canada has had the same Conservative government for almost three years.

If there's ever been a time for change and it not being an empty promise, its now.


WesternGrit said...

I don't understand the reference you make to a "liberal leadership candidate mentioning change"... I have no idea. All I'm saying is that no-one should use that word in a way that it has no meaning - just a useless word tossed around. I wasn't in TO for the "meeting" so I have no idea who said what.

I do agree that change is needed, but lets hear about the nuts and bolts. Anyone who has considered leading this party should already have a pretty solid plan for "renewal" put together, and ready to go.

I've just stated that we can't have change without some substance. I'm also going to repeat that it is a little tacky to keep using these words and phrases because of Barack's success with them...

Anonymous said...

People don't seem to realize that what makes a leader great is that they are unique - unlike any other.

Some try to find the next Trudeau.

This is nuts.

Pearson wasn't Laurier, Trudeau was Pearson or Lauier and Chretien was any of them either.

You want change - you need someone different and unique.