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Past Language Won’t Result In Future Results

December 15, 2006

I read (yes, read!) an interesting post from Liblogger Far and Wide about the use of language in politics. He advocates the Liberals using language such as “right-wing”, “unmask” (as in hidden agenda) and “social conservative”, like Dion has.

The problem is, it’s been tried before and has not worked.

In the 2006 Election, Paul Martin and the Liberals did the same type of thing, using such ideas as “hidden agenda”, Canada as we know it is in danger, and “ideological”.

As we know now, the whole tactic failed.

But, let’s say for the sake of argument, that Paul’s Martin rhetoric was not the reason he lost. That it was other things, like unpublished ad leaks and RCMP investigations.

Dion’s borrowed tactic from Paul Martin still would not work in the next election. Why? I’d give two reasons.

The first reason is that Harper is an incumbent. He is no longer a undefined quality to Canadians. There has been no top-secret super-evil hidden agenda released on the masses, or as a Conservative friend of mine would say “look, there are no fire-breathing dragons in the sky because the Conservatives are in power.” (while my other friend replied that fire-breathing dragons in the sky would be an improvement to the status quo.)

Let’s face it, this language tactic is, at its core, a defining tactic. But the thing is, Harper has already been defined. And the definition that most Canadians use for Harper is not “evil hidden agenda right-wing ideologue.”

The interesting thing about this, through, is that the undefined person this time around, is Dion.

The second reason is that the Martin-Dion language tactic will fail is, simply, Harper’s language will be better than it. The Conservative language will be, we’ve kept our promises, we’ve done more things that the Liberals have in 12 years. Which, if the Liberals respond “all you have done are evil right-wing agenda things”, the Conservatives will go: Lowered taxes for average Joe, increased accountability in Government, trimmed wasteful programs that were no use to Canadians, etc. What did you guys do again?” We know that a lot of this is Conservative BS, but I think the average Joe will buy it.

And remember too, that the Conservative have more money than the Liberals to ensure that their language wins.

So while the Martin-Dion language tactic might work in an election with a Liberal incumbent and a Conservative newcomer, I don’t see it working in the next election, where the reverse is true.

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Categories: Federal, Liberals
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