Search This Blog

CCE in brief

My photo
Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Team Harper Using Plato's Desktop

If true, this wouldn't surprise me a titch.  Unlike Kinsella, though, I don't see a CPC attempted comparison of crack to pot as insane; instead, I see it as reflective of the creative limitations we've seen expressed by Team Harper time and time again.

I call it Plato's Desktop - the tendency to use new tools in traditional ways, rather than adapting your own capacity to the potential of the new thing or approach.  Using a laptop strictly as a word processor would be an example, as would using social media strictly to send out messaging.  

This has been a consistent theme for Team Harper throughout it's various iterations (which should be rather telling); they've gotten louder, they've periodically been highly organized, but they've never done innovative well.


Stephen Harper has had a very narrow focus during his tenor as Prime Minister:

1) Removing any decision-making power that involves actual problem solving as far away from his office as possible;
2) Tough On Crime - increase the number of legal offences, increase the penalties for them and create more institutions to get undesirables off the streets.  Dickens couldn't have done better;

3) Natural Resource Extraction/platitudes about traditional manufacturing - now, I won't hold this entirely against Harper, as Canada on the whole has been lazy on the innovation front.  But seriously - we live in an age where highschool kids are becoming billionaires off of innovative, social-media based content and Harper's Conservatives want the nation to limit itself to hewing wood and hauling water? 
Advanced manufacturing is turning last century's Third World Countries into powerhouses, and they want to lower labour costs to compete for widget-making positions with Bangladesh?

Despite having access to all kinds of internal (i.e. public servant), national (science, innovation hubs, lateral think-tanks) and extra-national (hi, Brazil!) information, Team Harper have been impotent to do anything creative with it.  Even borrowed speeches have been cribbed line-for-line.  While the rest of the world sprints ahead, Canada under Harper keeps backing in to the future.

The areas where Harper can claim credit for some kind of sustainability or breakthrough?  There's the economy, which every speaker at the recent Economic Forum of the Americas credited to work done long before Harper was even leader of the Reform Party.  Then, there's CETA which is not only less exciting (and beneficial) than Team Harper contends, but it also was the work of negotiators not of their partisan ranks.

The things Harper claims credit for?  He didn't built that - he's merely basking in the light of others.


Harper was going to lead us towards a new frontier in accountability and transparency.  Whether he was insincere from the get-go, realized that he couldn't handle that level of scrutiny or perhaps never understood the meaning of the terms in the first place, he's been a bust on all fronts.

But when has Harper's CPC ever tackled an issue head-on, as in really addressing a concern in substantial ways?  Yes, they've increased penalties or reduced regulations, but what have they actually solved?  We get bullet-point messaging that ignores the intent of questions or bait-and-switch attacks, but solutions?  Not so much.  

Yes, this is the way politics has been done, but Harper promised to do politics differently, just as he promised to reform the Senate.  

He made a lot of big-picture promises that have never come to fruition, largely because they involve consensus-building and innovative solution-framing.

Strategically, Harper planned to make Canada more Conservative, i.e. think the way he did; instead of pushing from the Right and throwing crumbs to the centrists, he's been governing from the Centre and has failed to throw any substantial red meat to his base.

People who hold the terms "senior" and "communications" in their titles will state with (perhaps grudging) admiration that Stephen Harper is a first-rate communicator, which is false; communication doesn't mean what they think it means.  Harper is pretty good at messaging, which is what they're actually referring to.  He can spin a yarn when he has to, though one gets the sense he'd prefer to do something else.  

It's hard to throw Harper off-message (or even off tone, really - the man's a machine when it comes to delivery), but it's even harder to have a meaningful dialogue with him.  

Then, there's the simplistic, white-hat/black-hat messaging favoured by today's Political Right (and far too often the Left).  "With us or with child pornographers" is kind of a "he dies or I die, brother" way of framing the world.  Lefties are bad, SoCons are good.  

Entitlement is bad, passing the buck is pathetic and contemplation (i.e. "committing sociology" is ineptitude.  Corruption is a fatal sin.  Like a nation saying it has no gay people, the Tories claim with ignorant vanity that all sins rest on the opposite side of the political divide, intentionally avoiding their own cognitive dissonance until it smacks them in the face.  

Then, the people who were the faces of their movement are suddenly not Tories.  Until, at least, the folk casting stones realize they live in glass houses, at which point entitlement, passing the buck and asking for consideration of contextual, personal concerns becomes standard operating procedure.


Harper has been hailed as a master of the partisan attack; his foresight is uncanny, his cool unshakable and his ability to fragment his opposition is legendary.  It's a myth, irony of irony, concocted by political people looking for complex "plays" where, in fact, there was simply an inability to do anything else.

Team Harper is a one-trick pony that we've convinced ourselves is the best act in town.

They demonize each opponent in exactly the same way - they are unCanadian, unmanly, unfit to lead.  Never have the Tories gone toe-to-toe with anyone; instead, they stand atop their walls, farting in the general direction of all comers, English pig-dogs and kniggets alike.

It's unfair to say the Langevin Block Boys are comparing apples to oranges, as their shtick is really much simpler.  They find the worst possible denominator and compare their opponents to that without worrying about how much sense it makes ('cause that's a sociology think to worry about).  

In this case, note that it's their former ally Rob Ford they're tossing under the messaging bus.  That's what happens when you live behind a firewall - you eventually run out of anyone else to throw at the barbarians.

It's not that Team Harper feels superior in their positions; rather, they just have a harder time walking in anyone else's shoes.

And finally...


Harper has never strategically weathered a storm; he has consistently pushed off addressing a problem for as long as possible, and when time came to own up passed the buck.  His distancing himself from responsibility over the Senate Scandal is really no different than his visit to Rideau Hall in 2008.  At the very least, Harper has owned up a little; back then, he projected his own feelings when he said Canadians didn't care about how Parliament worked.  At least now Harper's admitting it's really him that doesn't care what others say.

His legendary self-discipline?  When you have the exact same presentation whether you're dropping your kid off at school, in Parliament or giving a speech (or, truly, with no variation between speeches) this is not discipline; it's functional fixedness.

There's nothing crazy about the current CPC approach - that would imply the ability to surprise us with the unexpected.  If anything, Team Harper has been totally consistent.  Alas, an inability to evolve isn't a strategy - at best, it's delaying the inevitable.

No comments:

Post a Comment