Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Leadership Campaign About Ideas

I'm glad we're hearing more about a "kinder gentler" leadership campaign this time around. We really want to spend more time focusing on the issues, and even more importantly: How will our new leader put these ideas forward, so the public hears them, knows them, and understands them. We should ALL be considering this as a KEY in this next leadership campaign.

As a party strapped for cash, there will be HUGE focus on our leader, and what he can verbalize in order to have our views heard. A leader who is quick on his/her feet can counter opponents' jabs, and media "mis-reporting" and lack of coverage, with strong speeches, clear ideas, and pure chutzpah. If we are unable to advertise continuously for the next several months/years, and right into the next campaign, our leader will be THE outlet for our ideas and information to the public. They will be the only one the public will hear (and be focused on) when the campaign starts - and before. We will try our "new ideas" of getting the team out there, a stronger web presence, etc., but the leader will be the focus.

What does this mean for us? We need to start looking at some very clear criteria to determine a "report card" type grading system for hopefuls. As a former recruiter for a major national corporation, a business manager in several instances, a union shop steward (yes, really, back in college), AND a business owner for many years, I have done a lot of evaluation of job "candidates". Literally thousands of them. I'm going to put these skills to use here, with a graded "report card" of the hopefuls - once we get a sizeable lineup. You'll see the report cards right here on WG.

Come to think of it, why does the party not have "pre-set" screening/resume forms for all positions? You want to be president of the riding association? Show us what you've done. Let it be public, so all the potential riding voters can see it. Party President? Policy Chair? Same thing. A "standardized" form would help people compare and contrast better than glossy, misleading, and often poorly written campaign literature. If you want to be our leader, you better "look good on paper" when compared to other candidates, THEN wow us during the conventions, and in speeches. If you can do all that, then you can have our support. After all, we tend to elect future Prime Ministers. Let's crank up the requirements a little. Don't get me wrong on that last point - as Liberals, we've have been very picky about all our leaders. We are probably more policy-focused, and less "retail politician" driven than the Conservatives. Just nice to get it all "on paper", that's all (so everyone can compare and contrast - on a public "spreadsheet").

Another aspect of our campaign has to be the warmth and sense of purpose we aspire to build. We can't get there with constant attacks on our opponents - it only provides fodder for the Conservative and NDP war rooms. Let's keep the "negative" to a minimum.

Over the next few months, I too will be commenting on all the hopefuls. I will focus on their strengths and ability to beat Harper and Layton on the stump.

We're hearing a lot lately about one man in particular. We are actually getting "blog-saturated" with comments - both positive and negative - regarding Mr. Rae. Today will be my first post about Mr. Rae.

Anyone who can strip naked on national television and take a skinny-dip with Rick Mercer has moxy. If you can do that, you can weather most any storm. I supported Michael Ignatieff last time around (as most of you know), so I'm being very candid here. I think Rae is the best "retail politician" we currently have. He does have the ability to grow our support - especially on the left.

Question is, do we want to go there right now? I think it was perceived we went a little left this past election, and got caught in the 3 way dog's breakfast that was this campaign. It may be better to grow our base which is the center.

Rae is witty and quick on his feet. He has excellent French. He can slug it out with the best of them.

Ontario? You mean the Ontario of the global recession of the 80s? That Ontario? 30 years ago? Harper says he's "changed" from 5 years back. Heck, Rae doesn't even LOOK the same anymore. He's also left the party of the left to join the party of the center. I think that speaks a lot to his new convictions. If anyone learned anything back in those times, it was that the NDP approach doesn't work in harsh economic times. The extreme conservative approach doesn't work either. A balanced, moderate approach works best. I'm sure Mr. Rae figured this out.

Will Ontario be a major factor - vis-a-vis his past Premiership and hopes to become leader? I think it would only be dogmatic conservatives, and those among us who fear the "Ontario factor" who may pull away from him. Remember, its all about PR, and how well the candidate stands up for themselves. A good retail politician can win over more voters. Remember, Stephen Harper is still the same Steve of the firewall letters, and the anti-Canada speeches in foreign lands. Seems that Canadian voters were okay with that (even though the comments were more recent). More recently, Harper will be the one wearing the current economic recession and associated budget deficits.

I think we have a few solid contenders - with other potentials in the wings. We can easily slug it out with Harper with either of the two presumptive "front-runners"...

Keep watching WG for our further analysis of this and several other Liberal Leadership Candidates.

No comments: