Thursday, November 06, 2008

Copy And Paste

It’s completely natural to think that many of the Liberal ills can be cured if we merely look southward for inspiration. A common theme now, how do the Liberals replicate the Democrats success? There is no question some lessons can be learned, and Liberals would be wise to pick up on the more innovative ideas which we saw during this primary season and Presidential race. However, I confess to some weariness in thinking the American template is necessarily applicable here. Rather than the importation of ideas as a starting point, it might be more reasonable to develop our own unique starting point, which best incorporates the domestic circumstances, then draw on foreign examples as augmentation.

It’s important to sift through what was independently effective, and what was merely an extension of a phenomenon, which offers red flags for the copy and paste. As the pundits and commentators heap praise on all things Democrat, everything brilliant, everything contributing to the overwhelming victory, creating this uneven view of reality, it’s hard to get a clear picture. The bottomline, much of what the Democrats were able to achieve was contingent on the sheer force of personality of one man, a leader that comes around once in a generation if you’re lucky. With that incredibly powerful core motivation, it’s easy to inspire the grassroots, set up networks of volunteers, rake in heaps of cash and become competitive in non-traditional areas.

On top of the “rock star” angle, you have an American electorate that has just endured 8 years of what has amounted to the most unpopular administration in history, unprecedented disarray and basic incompetence. You combine an incredible natural disposition for change, with a leader blessed with the rare ability to resonate, and it created the perfect storm. That situation is unique, which means Liberals best be cautious, if we think simply parroting the strategies will bring similar results, that it will actually work.

We have a tendency to give the victor all the praise, in all facets, while simultaneously rejecting everything about the defeated. The trick now, making no assumptions, based on what has just occurred stateside, because if we think ourselves the same, if we believe that we just adopt the approach here and it will work, then we failed to acknowledge the “one off” characteristics of this past election.. It’s a different electorate, with a different history and set of circumstances, with different leaders and different dynamics. I think it best to proceed with caution, when it comes to mirroring the American experience, because quite frankly, I doubt we see anything like it again in our lifetimes, whether there or HERE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with much that you said. The only cautionary note I have is that, no matter what our response, the US experience is relevant due to the extent that Harper IS the Canadian Bush. I find it amusing that the Harper people are relieved that, with Bush gone, the comparison will go away. Or rather, they hope it will go away. This is not a flippant comparison, it's the real deal. Although we will find our own way through this, we are in fact dealing with the same adversary and need to heed the lessons learned south of us.