Fear. Negative Reinforcement. It is a powerful motivator. You can’t really argue with it as a strategy on the grounds of effectiveness. In my experience, it is far easier to obtain a course of action through fear than hope. And fear of the unknown is the easiest, most universal fear to access. Sigh.
Hope. Positive Reinforcement. It is also a powerful motivator. If used properly far more powerful than fear, but it is harder to use. Fear keeps us from a course of action. Hope prompts us towards a course of action. Fear can lead to inaction or even another equally bad option. Hope may not work out, but at least you know the end towards which you are trying to reach.
If you have only two choices, fear works quite well. If you scare people from your opponent than you must be forcing them to you. With more than two choices? Where you go is not as well defined.
All of that ranting is setup to say that it seems that the results of the most recent election were driven more by fear than hope. That is a shame. I’m not saying that the PCs won’t be a great government. They might. Alison Redford is going to run a different ship than Klein or Stelmach. I’m just saying that I’m not happy with the way we apparently made the choice.
We can ask the parties not to use fear in campaigns, but let’s not be naive. It is effective and will get used. We jut need to look at our motivations and know when we are being motivated through fear instead of hope. That is something we can do with self-reflection.
In our case, there was a well publicized push towards strategic voting. A call for anyone but the Wildrose. Websites popping up that showed who you could vote for to try and ensure that the Wildrose did not win in your riding. I’m not a huge Wildrose supporter by any stretch, but I’d rather they won because people voted positively for them than they lose because of fear.
Our worst case here is four years of bad government. That isn’t nothing. Its the entire time a student spends in college or university (in a typical program completed on schedule). If we took financial hits or reputation hits those can’t be immediately recovered. It would take time to reverse changes and adjust course. But it is still just four years. It isn’t forever.
And people weren’t particularly scared about our finances or reputation. The issues around which the fear focused were primarily social issues:
- Apparent racism (or at least cultural insensitivity) of some members
- Apparent homophobia and the threat of attacks versus gay rights
- Establishment of conscience rights leading to refusal of service by public educators and physicians
- Increased referenda leading to possible threats to other established social issues (like abortion and the right to choose)
(It is an interesting aside that all these issues seem to have been decided primarily in the courts rather than the legislatures. I’m both against and opposed to this. The majority will never/rarely support the rights of the minority over their own. We need the courts hear. But the democratic process should allow for public debate of some sort. Tricky.)
There were other issues used to attack Wildrose:
- Move towards privately delivered health care
- Increased American style financial planning
- Lack of a long term vision for Education and Health care
Etc. But these (and others) went through the whole election. It seemed to be the social issues that caused a split.
And these are issues that the Wildrose has very limited opportunity to change. Legislation seen as contrary to the Charter of rights and freedoms probably wouldn’t last past the first appeal. (IMO anyway). Not that there isn’t things they could do, but completely changing things would not be easy.
But that is another aside. The key here isn’t that the Wildrose have some ideas that people find scary, but that we ended up voting against the Wildrose instead of for who we actually wanted.
We can only hope now that we ended up with who we needed.