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.