ZYTARUK: Voters starving for sincerity in 2015 Canadian election campaign

Tom Zytaruk

 

 

So let it be written…

 

I resent it when someone tries to sell me a bridge.

This usually happens during election campaigns, figuratively speaking.

I wish it wouldn’t. I’d much rather hear, or read, reasoned, honest debate on issues important to Canadians.

Most students of the Liberal Arts will sooner or later be introduced to the concept of a straw man argument.

It’s a disingenuous technique often used in debate that involves setting up an imagined likeness of your rival, or what he or she is saying, and then attacking the bogus likeness or argument you’ve invented.

We’ve all fallen victim to this before.

"The sky is a pretty blue," you say.

"What you’re really saying is that the sky is dark blue, and that’s just dark," your rival replies. "Dark is depressing. Man, you are so dark and depressing. And that’s totally unlikable and icky. You are icky."

It’s difficult to defend oneself against such low-down dirty trickery.

The unfortunate thing is, the straw man argument can be effective because as they say, a sucker is born every minute. The problem is, not only is it intellectually dishonest, the benefits reaped from such chicanery serves the manipulator and no one else.

Sure, there will be people who believe the political attack ads to be gospel truth, especially when the ads are slammed into their heads ad naseaum on radio and television. But not all of us are stupid.

We don’t want to hear the same old party sanctioned phrases slithering out of the mouths of campaigners on the nightly news. Intelligent voters want to see signs of independent thought and therefore, intelligence.

Voters are starved for sincerity. Treat us like dunderheads and you won’t be getting our vote.

At least not mine.

Few, I think, would disagree that the current reigning champions of the twisted message are the Conservatives.

I’m surprised their political rivals have not re-branded the Tories the Conspicuous Propagandists Party of Canada.

This week the Conservative campaign machine issued a press release urging voters to "Vote Harper to stop a ‘Netflix Tax.’"

"The Prime Minister observed that both Thomas Mulcair and Justin have opened the door to future taxation of Netflix," the release read. Now, I don’t know if this is true, and honestly I don’t much care. There are much bigger issues out there.

But when I read this sentence, the resentment grows. Someone’s trying to sell me a bridge. Furthermore, its author is being childish. The Conservative’s manipulation of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s name doesn’t make me think any less of him. It does make me think less of the Conservatives. We all know what his name is — first, and last — but the Conservatives would have us, with a pinch of sleepy dust or wave of a wand, start thinking otherwise. Today, it’s "Justin."

What’s next?

Maybe by September they’ll be referring to him as "lowercase j â„¢."

What real positive bearing can this possibly have on the governing of this country?

The Conservatives aren’t the only party to indulge in re-branding. You’ll remember that back in the day, the Liberals insisted on referring to a fledgling Conservative Party as the "Reform Alliance." The Grits did their level best to entice voters to dismiss the Conservative Party of Canada as the spawn of toenail-pickin’ hillbillies. 

The Canadian Alliance, of course was the forerunner of today’s Conservative Party. Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry ventured into the surreal years ago when she likened the situation in one Canadian Alliance stronghold, Prince George, to apartheid in South Africa. The Canadian Alliance wanted her head.

And the NDP? Well, it’s early days yet in this election campaign. We’ll see what they do.

I won’t be so naïve as to suggest the political parties at all subscribe to the concept that losing while playing fair is better than winning by cheating. Or manipulating.

Nor will I be so obtuse as to suggest that old maxim,

"It’s not whether you win or lose that counts, but how you play the game," brings a tear to their eye.

But the thing is, many of us voters do subscribe to such wholesome values. We are starved for sincerity.

Time will tell if the political parties ignore this to their peril.

 

So let it be done…

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