Two stories catching my eye today. They come from usual suspects, engaging in typical ways.
After barring reporters from covering one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speeches, the Conservative Party is decrying a "new low for the Ottawa media elite" because some TV cameras refused to film the event if reporters weren't allowed inside.
Harper has perpetually been at war with the media - he doesn't trust them and has wagered the general public, but his base in particular don't trust them either. As such, he uses the media like a can of gasoline, pouring fire on the anger of his base for political/financial gain. This approach theoretically also helps deaden the constant reportage of the CPC's constant scandals.
It works, but at a cost - his base is getting angrier, mistrusting any source that isn't Party-sanctioned.
Not a good trend to set in a democratic society.
And number two:
Of course he wants to go there - it's where he's been going pretty much every day of his mayoralty. It hasn't hurt him thus far.
The fact is, he's playing by the rules of political engagement:
- Don't answer questions you don't want to - just say what you want people to hear and say it confidently. Or, bait-and-switch by pointing out the faults of someone else. If all else fails, say nothing (or in his case, "anything else?)
- People aren't interested in complex facts; they want soundbites and emotion. Give it to them and they'll ignore all else.
- Play the HOAG card; people don't want leadership these days, they want validation.
Of course the approach of both Harper and Ford show a complete disdain for our political process and near-contempt of the people as a whole. They're basically saying they don't expect their base to do their homework and are equally expecting everyone else to be too inept to mount a successful counter-defence (or offence).
Will it work? Probably not - I think they're deluding themselves. By pandering to their base and vilifying their chosen opponents, both men have created echo chambers that have starved them of ideas and grassroots realities.
That's not leadership - but it is what we asked for.
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