GUEST BLOG: Ideology rarely reason for political defeat
“We lost because we weren't X enough.”
If you've ever belonged to an ideological political party, you have heard someone utter that statement. It's also the most demonstrably false statement of political certainty ever uttered.
Tim Hudak heard it in 2011 when he blew a fourth quarter lead to Dalton McGuinty.
Mitt Romney heard it in 2012 when he lost to Barack Obama.
Ed Miliband heard it last year when Labour lost to the Tories in Great Britain.
Thomas Mulcair heard it when the NDP told him they'd rather have a leadership contest than allow him to continue as leader.
The reason it's ridiculous is because it's arrogant.
It assumes people think about politics the way the most ideological members of a particular party do.
It ignores the fact that, for most people, politics is an involuntary intrusion into their lives every once in a while. They feel obliged to pay attention during campaigns, because most Canadians believe in participating in their democracy.
But most of the rest of the time, Canadian interaction with politics more resembles shouting at talk radio in frustration or turning off the television in disgust.
Trying to portray Canadians as inherently progressive or conservative misses the point.
The ultimate failing point in this argument is when someone says "Ah, but the people who don't vote, they're really with us. They just don't vote because we're not ______________ enough."
No, they just don't vote for a collection of reasons. Some people forget, some people think the system is broken and don't believe their vote matters, some people don't know an election is going on and, yes, some people don't believe there is an option that speaks for them.
No one is arguing that Stephen Harper lost because he wasn't conservative enough. And he lost in a rout. No one argued in 2014 that Tim Hudak lost because he wasn't conservative enough and he was similarly routed.
How about every single election the federal NDP fought prior to Thomas Mulcair? There are a lot of good socialists who went down to defeat. As, it's worth noting, did liberal Democrats in the U.S. like Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale.
When it comes to political leaders, the electorate takes a lot of things into consideration. What most full-time political people would be shocked to learn is how far down the list anyone puts ideology.
Alexander Campbell is a pseudonym. The actual author has asked that his name not be made public at this time.
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