As evidenced by both recent federal polls and last week’s Liberal victory in Ontario, something strange is happening to our country’s favourite right-wing political group. The Conservative Party of Canada and provincial parties of similar conviction simply lack the overall support of the public, despite a relatively divided left-wing and an economy that seems to have come out of the 2008 recession with the morale of the average Canadian university student.
Yes, conservatives are lacking something—something that their progressive peers have most certainly discovered.
In February 2005, two websites were launched, one called YouTube.com, the other called JustKiddingThereWasOnlyOne.net, and as a result, the world of politics began to change in a completely new way as social media surged through the population like a fire.
All hope of “privacy” and “anonymity” was lost for the average person, but people in the public eye found themselves watched constantly. Moreover, the defining line that separated politicians from celebrities began to blur, and the way was paved for the trend that we now see emerging more than ever—charisma has become everything.
Charisma is nothing new, of course; our Prime Ministers have certainly had the quality (on a scale from R.B.Bennett to Pierre Trudeau), but Western culture wants a show—and nothing to do with politics. Barack Obama, “leader of the free world” and one of the most charismatic, influential figures of the decade, has been ranked by one site as the 26th most famous person in existence. If a captivating, inspirational orator and decisive leader doesn’t make the Top 10 list, then how are well-intentioned Canadian politicians to address a public that doesn’t want to hear?
“… I would think of wanting to make Quebec a country.” – Justin Trudeau
The Liberal Party of Canada answered that question on April 14, 2013, when they reserved the domain Justin.ca and elected Justin Trudeau, the Wonder Boy, to be their party leader. Ontario affirmed it when they shrugged away a $1 billion scandal and tanking economy, granting a Liberal majority. And while many fervent Conservative and NDP supporters may have once scoffed at his youth, his baby-faced good looks, or his lack of experience, they’re not mocking Justin anymore, because the polls show that despite several major flubs, Trudeau has taken a 10% lead over Harper’s Conservatives.
I admire Justin Trudeau, but when I look at Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair, I see exemplary leaders who stand high above the pop sensation. I’m not saying that this is wrong; it’s just the way things are. Facts, figures, statistics, policy – they may win debates, but charm and charisma wynne elections. And Justin Trudeau exudes charm.
“$#!*” – Justin Trudeau
They might have some awareness of this trend, but for better or for worse, conservatives worldwide haven’t seemed to figure it out yet. And I’m willing to bet money that the Canadian ones will pay dearly for that in 2015.
No matter. With time, I’m sure the right wing will learn its lesson, and follow in the footsteps of the Liberal Party…