Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sunny ways down south: would Yank strategists consider doing a Trudeau?

Did you hear about the Republican presidential nomination candidate who was so wrong that the other Republican presidential nomination candidates noticed?

In Canada a few months ago, even observers who detested the Harper government tended to concede its Machiavellian cleverness in the use of money and strategy to micro-target, to concoct wedge-issues, and to rally the base, all in the service of turning 30% core support into another majority. Tax gimmickry, the fomenting of hijab hysteria, ad-buys selling fear and anger -- we may have hated them, but lots of analysts thought they were clever campaign tactics. They might be mean but they are smart, went the refrain.

Funny how campaign strategists are all geniuses until they turn out to be idiots. In the end, the candidate who most effectively rejected anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment, rejected divisiveness, and appealed constantly to Canadians' better natures ("Sunny ways") won overwhelmingly. Nasty strategy turned out -- who knew? -- to be stupid strategy. Supporting refugees, instead of vilifying them, turns out to be just what we Canadians do.

I wonder if there is a genius American political strategist who is looking at the tsunami of hatred and division and micro-targeting that most of the American candidates are currently surfing on, and then looking north and saying, "Hmmmm...."?
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