Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Connect with voters? What a novel idea!
Michael Ignatieff has received some flak for his bus tour, with some calling it "desperate," others openly and sadly mocking it, and others saying it won't have an effect at all.
But, hark back to the days when another left-leaning politician was thought to be dead-on-arrival, who then went on a bus tour, reconnected with the voters, and went on to be one of the country's most successful politicians.
That person is, of course, Bill Clinton - master of comebacks.
In 1992, far, far behind in the polls against then-President George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, along with his wife Hillary Clinton, then-Senator Al Gore and his wife, Tipper Gore, launched a bus tour, visiting small towns across America in order to reconnect with a lot of the voters the major campaigns forgot. Clinton's aim was to raise his profile and to hear the concerns of ordinary Americans.
It didn't necessarily help in the polls, nor did it gain as much media attention, positive or negative, that is deserved. Furthermore, while Clinton was out with his bus tour, the Bush team was trying to attack him on character issues - a policy that ended up providing little traction. Bush's main attacks focused on accusations surrounding Clinton around infidelity and draft-dodging. Meanwhile, Bush tried to win with purely partisan and ideological ideas, failing to appreciate the amount of resentment and pain Americans were in at the time.
Clinton, while slogging through the character assassination tactics, meeting with voters, hearing their concerns, and formulating a plan for the future, ended up winning the 1992 election by a five-point margin, despite a popular third-party candidate (who was anti-free trade, like someone else we know) who took votes away from him and President Bush.
Sound familiar yet? Let's put it into modern terms.
While Ignatieff is out meeting voters, Harper and his goons are out, claiming this and that about him. While Ignatieff and the Liberals are working to renew the Party, their ideas, and formulate a winning election plan, Harper is trying to coast on purely ideological decisions while claiming to be a moderate and represent Canadian interests. While Iggy is out there, working, defending our interests and listening to our concerns, Harper is conspicuously absent from the stage, even when we need him the most.
The way I see it, history, and ideas, are on our side. Let's support Iggy's tour, keep it going, and continue to take our country back from Harper's whims.