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An astute analysis of Canada's WOES !
on January 3, 2012
After months of listening to political drivel in the U.S. campaign to nominate a candidate to oppose the president, surely any other system of choosing a national leader is preferable.
Nope. Newman details how Canadians are equally clever in using very different politics to produce a landslide defeat based on the hubris of past success and the blinders of current arrogance. He knows how to infuriate politicians; he quotes them accurately and in enough context that they can't weasel out of gaffes, goofs and "Golly Gees!" with claims of misquotes. It gives him two great advantages; honesty allows him candid access to all who matter, including politicians, and in return he presents a complete "warts and all" picture.
Trust me, I've been there. Political campaigns are intense; success requires an astute candidate plus a dedicated staff willing to literally work around the clock. As Newman says, Michael Ignatieff began with these strengths until his campaign was taken over by good ol' boys wanting to cash in on easy glory.
This book is a post-mortem, like an analysis of why the Titanic sank. As with the Titanic, lessons learned mean big ships are still built and sail safely; the lessons of this book may well become a foundation garment to rebuild the Liberal Party. As an original supporter of John Diefenbaker and Dr. P. B. Rynard, I don't want Liberals to disappear; because the lasting success of Conservatives depends on the intelligence of a good opposition.
Without a good opposition to debate their politics, plans, policies and peccadillos, Conservatives will become a Canadian G.O.P. (Greedy Old Party).
Conservatives skillfully used American campaign techniques in 2011, a system imported by Liberals in the 1962 election. It doesn't imply Canada should copy the American primary system; but it does suggest adopting new and more open methods of selecting candidates.
Newman skillfully cites the arrogance and incompetence of the Worthy Old Elder Statesmen (WOES). It's not unique to politics; the basic errors are much the same as the collapse of once great businesses such as Kodak -- the company that invented digital photography; or Research in Motion -- creator of the world's best business phone. Good companies re-organize and thrive; weak companies, and inept politicians, refuse to change and die.
This is a textbook on how to lose an election, destroy a great candidate and crush a venerable political party. It's essential political reading as an example of what not to do; plus, as a foundation to create reforms. After reading it, perhaps Liberals will organize a new "Kingston Conference" similar to the one held in the wake of the 1958 triumph by Diefenbaker.
Politics is a process of continual rebirth, simply because the interests, needs and whims of voters always change. Newman has written a fine obituary of old Liberals; now, party leaders must decide whether to die like Britain's Liberals or be reborn like Democrats after the 2004 election. President Bush bragged of mandates and holding power for at least a generation after 2004; Republicans were trounced in 2006 and 2008, then revived by 2010. Such is the volatile nature of politics.
Newman deftly outlines the Liberal WOES. Now, Young Liberals must reform or learn to graciously fade into history like a curious oddity from times long past.