Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pre-Mature Verdicts

I've been utterly amazed at how many supposed political "experts", pundits, observers, have been so quick to pass judgement on the robo-call affair. There is a dismissive tone, intertwined with some sort of misplaced arrogance, that thinks the electorate fits into some neat theorem. There is a reason all study involving humans is called SOCIAL science and not SCIENCE, and these over bearing cynics get lost in their own smug assertions to recognize the error. Seems to me true wisdom first understands the folly of rash judgements, particularly when the facts are evolving and the debate looks to be protracted. That recognition isn't to say robo-calls resonate or move numbers, or cost the Conservatives anything, only that to scoff with finality the realm of a fool, ripe for future red faced revision.

With this backdrop in mind, imagine my surprise to see a fresh poll that shows Conservative support tanking to their core number, now tied with the leaderless NDP. More striking, this particular commentary:
The Conservatives are clearly paying a price for the robo-calls affair, plans to increase the qualifying age for Old Age Security, legislation that would give the government information on individual Internet accounts, and increased uncertainty over the costs of new fighter jets.

A host of reasons, at the top, the robo-call scandal. Given this issue has dominated the political landscape, fair to make the connection. I wouldn't understate the other reasons cited, because we have seen a rather rough patch for the government on many issues, only that the pollster seems to see robo-calls contributing to falling fortunes. As well, you'll note other polls have shown less than flattering numbers for the Conservatives on the robo-call scandal, as well as failing "right track" numbers, there is some noteworthy erosion occurring when it comes to confidence in this government.

Stephen Harper didn't come to power because of the economy, a quick review of stuffed coffers, robust growth, low unemployment, any measure you choose, a potent confirmation. NO, Harper came to power because voters tired of the corrupt Liberals, it was ethics, arrogance, cheating, that is what undermined, eroded support, not "trains on time" considerations. Canadian history is full of examples, wherein scandal has undone a government, not coming clean with voters, cheating, dishonesty, which makes the scoffing crowd all the more confounding. The prospect of Conservatives in handcuffs, no matter their stature, trying to usurp democracy, that doesn't matter or come with a price? I'd say more a commentary on personal bias than any fair reading.

Maybe the robo-call story goes nowhere, maybe it fades and the Conservatives suffer little in the final analysis. And, maybe the Conservatives don't, maybe this scandal- which fits a wider narrative- does strike a cord, comes with price. The verdict is still out, anyone already reaching one, is really what should be dismissed as valuable commentary...


Tof KW said...

The sponsorship scandal was initially being written off by these same pundits as well; too complicated and convoluted for the public to follow, and no direct link to the PMO were their main points back then if I recall.

Also this early judgement of the robocon scandal is from the same pundits who:

- claimed Paul Martin would win a landslide, winning 6 seats in Alberta even,
- said Stephen Harper was unelectable as PM,
- that Harper's prorogation would not register with the public,
- prognosticated 10 days before the May 2011 election that the Bloc Quebecois would win 45-50 seats.

And that list is just off the top of my head, the pundits are dead wrong on the issues much more often than they'll ever care to admit.

From what we already know about this scandal, we can make these reasonable conclusions:

- Some people are going to jail. No doubt about this. Election laws were clearly broken in Guelph, because fraudulently claiming to be Elections Canada buys you time in the ol' crowbar hotel. The only questions are how far beyond Guelph does it go, and how well organized was this vote suppression tactic (was is the work of a few over-eager supporters, or does it link to the Conservative party directly)?

- Robocon will drag out for years in the courts. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn. Even if it was only a few lone wolves in Guelph, eventually we will see some CPC staffers wearing orange jumpsuits on TV. Again without knowing how high it goes, and how geographically widespread it was, the numbers convicted and their connection to the CPC is anyone's guess right now. However I'd predict that sometime around 2015 is when we'll see the first convictions occur, which if I remember right is an election year. If the people being convicted are close to the CPC (or within it) this is bad news for Stephen Harper.

- Public opinion is not swayed much until inquires / court cases are reported on TV, and then change drastically when people are convicted. Again, the sponsorship scandal is your guide here.

Bottom line; once we know what Elections Canada and the RCMP find out about this robocall scandal, only then can the pundits can lecture us about how the general public should 'feel' about it. Right now they know diddly squat, and are just filling up airtime and newspaper space.

Steve V said...

I agree, no matter the "rank", Cons in court over election fraud, hardly something to pronounce irrelevant.