All Soap, No Box

There is probably a connection between the utter fatuousness of the campaign so far and the absence of any substantial policy platforms from any of the parties. Which invites the question: where are the platforms? After all, Jean Chretien with the Red Book, and Mike Harris with the Common Sense Revolution, both swept to power with convincing majority governments, buoyed (one presumes) in part by a clear and detailed agenda. In Chretien’s case it was policy-based, Harris was more ideological, but in both cases voters were given a clear statement of intent from the party at the start of the campaign.

Some thoughts:

1. The Red Book was effective for someone like Jean Chretien, who was a poor communicator of anything more complicated than “Canada is da best”. When faced with tough questions, he could just say, “read the Red Book.”

2. The Common Sense revolution was more a statement of ideological purpose, not specific policies. A such, it was most effective at rallying a conservative base, at a very specific moment in Ontario’s evolution.

3. Both documents were artifacts of the last years of mass communication, the web had not yet hit in 1993 or 1995. Detailed platforms are obsolete in the current media environment. As the Tories showed in 2006, it is better to feed the 24/7 news cycle in steady sucrotic drips.

What do you think?

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