Electoral cooperation: Rebranding negative politics

Another thought has struck me regarding Nathan Cullen’s approach, and it goes beyond my opposition to his joint nomination meetings suggestion.

His key statement and drive seems to be a desire to defeat Stephen Harper at any and all costs. It’s us versus them; right versus left; progressive versus conservative.

The push is very much a negative, “we must defeat Stephen Harper” focus, and is very telling that it’s the first announcement to come out of the Cullen campaign since he launched.

What made Jack Layton successful in May wasn’t his focus on how we needed to bring down Harper at any and all costs. Jack broke through because he convinced people through his cooperative efforts and getting back to work talk that he cared about making Canada a better place. He inspired people to vote for him, not against Harper. This is why (among many other reasons) voters in Quebec abandoned the Bloc Québécois as their anti-Harper vote and chose to vote for their local NDP candidates.

Cullen is smart though, and recognizes some of this, stating he “didn’t want to just beat Stephen Harper, I want to beat the way he does politics”. But the irony is that his proposal is focussed on uniting for the sole purpose of defeating Harper.

He talks about putting forward a progressive alternative, but doesn’t fill in those details. He mentions climate change and economic fairness, but doesn’t give any hint how he’d address them.

His proposal instead is that if a riding thinks a Liberal candidate has a better idea than the Nathan Cullen NDP then we should abandon his plan and vote for them instead.

But perhaps the biggest irony here is that by suggesting what amounts to local Liberal-NDP-Green mergers, Cullen is arguing for exactly what Stephen Harper did for the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives. He isn’t presenting an alternative to Harper politics, he’s merely re-wrapping it in autumn colours.

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One thought on “Electoral cooperation: Rebranding negative politics”

  1. What Cullen is doing is being totally and brutally realistic. Rather than pontificating from the sidelines, he has concluded that it is absolutely nonsensical that a party with barely a third of the votes cast in the past few elections, should become the government and implement, law by law, regulation by regulation, a neoconservative agenda, when fully 60% of voters wanted something else – something not as neoconservative.

    We could all sit around debating how many angels dance on a needle point, or we could adopt something practical like the Cullen Plan, and take steps to turf Harper out in 2015.

    Whatever follows Harper will be better for millions of Canadians – that’s what millions of Canadians hoped for when they cast votes in the past few elections.

    It’s time to get real, and do what it takes to change our government for a better one.

    That’s why I back the Cullen Plan – it is a whiff of realism in an otherwise unreal political situation.

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