If you go to Liberal conventions, the policy workshops are full of Liberals trashing everything the Conservative Party stands for, and the party renewal workshops are full of Liberals demanding their party copy every single aspect of the Conservative Party ground game.
Everything about the Conservative approach to politics fits within their emotional pitch to Canadians; sound-bite, reactive, targeted. The whole operation is designed to make people feel reactive - to crime, to corruption, to anything that makes them feel like someone else has an unfair advantage. That includes social services and education. The Tory narrative also encourages voters to think strictly about their immediate issues, which don't include the environment or lateral, structural thinking.
When the Liberals try to ape the Conservative approach, they help grow more conservatives as surely as if they were to talk strictly about conservative issues like crime and punishment. Even when the Liberals gain votes from this approach, it comes at the expense of realigning Party interests to lighter shade of blue. The results are the same.
Liberals need to be Liberals in how they operate, which means exploring the tools that engender proactive, patient, pro-social and long-term thinking. We're finally seeing a move in that direction now through the way email blasts are framed, an emphasis on listening over messaging and the kinds of positions that are being taken and through big picture moves like open data, open government and crowd-sourced policy ideas.
The trick for Liberals at all levels now is to rediscover their sense of purpose and optimism and to have the courage to keep building what they believe in - which, at it's core, is a stronger Canada for all.
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