I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
But I am getting a little cranky over the attempts to dumb politics down in this country and province.
Consider this. As recently as this week, we are still getting press releases from the federal government entitled “Canada’s New Government……”.
Now, by now, one would think that just about every Canadian actually realizes that there is a ‘new’ government in Ottawa. I realize that after 12 years of Liberals, the Conservatives wanted to make this point for an extended period of time. However, at some point, they will have to give in and admit they are no longer ‘new’. I am beginning to think that some high priced marketing consultant told the Conservatives that we all have very short attention spans so instead of complex policy messaging, just keep on serving up the same thing over and over in a repetitious fashion so that when election time comes we will remember the 4-5 things the government wanted us to remember and forget everything else.
Think about New Brunswick. I hear now that we will have to be physically healthy to be economically self-sufficient. Like former Premier Lord, where everything was going to make us prosperous (pothole filling, for example), now if we want to be self sufficient, we need to be healthy.
But why stop there? There have been ample studies that show good looking people have a better shot at economic success. So, why not provide free image consulting to all New Brunswickers? We also know that living in California is correlated to more economic success so why not give us one way tickets to the coast? Or, at least, buy us condos in Orange County to go to during the cold winter months.
But it doesn’t stop there. Economic success is also correlated to who you marry. So, if we really want to become self-sufficient, why not provide marriage counselling and encourage all those poor saps that want to marry their high school sweethearts to think twice?
I don’t actually have much of a point here except to say that if New Brunswick wants to become economically self-sufficient, it needs to have a strong economy that can attract people from outside the province. If we start straying from that objective (for, it seems to me, purely political marketing reasons), we will have less chance of getting there.
But the marketing folks and the spin doctors want politicians to dumb it down. Tie everything government does to your key theme. Keep it front and centre. Short attention spans and all that jazz.
However, that approach failed for the Tories. Everything seemingly was tied to the Prosperity Plan and yet very few people (at least those nasty voters) actually thought we were getting more prosperous under Lord.
As the father of three young children, I have learned that if you want them to learn something, there is no substitute for repetition. For memorization. For emphasizing over and over. Every parent does it. “What do you say?”, we say, after every request until the kid figures out that a simple ‘please’ before the request is what we are looking for.
But I am not sure that kindergarten marketing gimmicks will work. Serve up your slogans. Your key phrases. Reinforce your desired brand attributes. Maybe that will work. Maybe not.
My own opinion is that the voters will look around in four or eight years (hopefully reminded by the Opposition) and ask themselves if we are more or less ‘self-sufficient’ in whatever personal definition we have for that term.
If not, all the filling of potholes, or health initiatives or broad grinning will not work.
Stephen Covey tells us that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Politicians would wise to dust off their copy of the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.