Saturday, February 22, 2014
Justin Trudeau and the Triumph of Hope
I haven't had a chance to see much of the Justin Trudeau show yet.
But what I've seen I've mostly enjoyed.
Justin Trudeau is telling his Liberal party that their revival depends on being an antidote to anger, apathy and fear in Canadian politics.
And what amuses me the most is how the MSM can't seem to understand why he is so popular.
For here is Paul Wells, Harper's would be Boswell, admitting that he is totally confounded.
All the hard work lies ahead for Trudeau. But I could have written that same sentiment a year ago and probably did, and a year later he still remains the most confounding presence in Canadian politics, easy to dismiss but much harder to effectively attack.
You can’t go after him with family-man, you can’t go after him with real-Canadian, you can’t go after him with easy-to-rattle, divorced-from-his-party-base or a bunch of other attacks that undid his predecessors.
And here is Don Martin, like so many others in the pundit bubble, lamenting the apparent triumph of smiles over substance.
The Liberals seem to be betting on sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and legal pot. So far, the polls suggest the irrational triumph of smiles over substance. That’s what makes the Trudeau phenomenon so fascinating. And that’s what makes the frowning Conservatives so nervous.
But to me there is no mystery why Trudeau is so popular. Canadians are desperate for change.
Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians want a change in federal government, according to a new CTV/Ipsos Reid poll, but are evenly split on the question of who they think will win the next election.
The poll found that 68 per cent of Canadians say “it is time for another federal party to take over and run the country,” down two points from October, while 32 per cent say the Harper government deserves to be re-elected.
And nobody embodies change more than Justin does.
He has some obvious natural advantages. He is young, he is friendly, the boomers look at him and see his father, and many younger Canadians see him as symbolizing generational change.
He is a nice guy in a country that has been run for so long by an evil monster...
But I think Justin's greatest advantage to date is that he is able to project hope, better than Harper obviously, but also more effectively than Tom Mulcair.
For while Mulcair may be a much better traditional politician, and his work in the House of Commons, and on the Senate file in particular, has been outstanding.
He hasn't been able to reach out beyond the Commons are effectively as Trudeau has. Even though Canadians say that's what they need and want.
The poll, by the Samara organization, showed that political parties are falling down on the main job that Canadians expect them to do — specifically, in “reaching out to Canadians.” The 1,800 poll respondents also gave failing grades to the parties in the tasks of hearing or coming up with new ideas.
Justin's musings about legalizing marijuana have also helped him look new and different, and then there is what Michael Harris has called the question of emotional intelligence.
Why does the prime minister fear Justin Trudeau and ignore Mulcair? The answer comes down to something known as emotional intelligence, and a little of what political consultants call “liveability”.
Wherever he goes, Justin Trudeau stops people in their tracks. They want to talk to him or get their picture taken with him. That natural ability to connect with people is probably the last thing that our robo- politics, in which elections are pulled off rather than won, can’t touch; you can’t buy likeability at Hill & Knowlton.
Which Harper doesn't have, and Mulcair has yet to engage.
Of course there is more than enough time for Tom to improve his numbers, and for Justin to flounder.
And I suspect that in the end many Canadians will examine the last polls of the campaign, and flock to support the leader who they think is most likely to defeat Harper.
And I wouldn't be surprised if the two men ended up working together in a coalition government. Which would be just fine with me.
In the meantime, don't expect me to attack either the Liberals or the NDP, just the Harper Cons. For at this stage in Canadian history all I care about is defeating them, and saving my poor country.
So go Justin go, go Tom go, make us proud, show us how good you can be.
Lead us towards the light of hope.
And end this hideous nightmare...
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