Monday, October 20, 2008

The Future

I just received an email asking for money. From Stephane Dion. It's the very same email that has been sent out time and time again, and is a symptom of the paralyzing failure of leadership and strategic vision that has afflicted our party.

We cannot win by running to defeat a man, Stephen Harper.

I've been doing reading--a lot of reading-- on the activities of our friends to the South and their campaign for President. There are new tactics and strategies being developed, strategies that could only come out of the inordinately long primary and presidential campaign. Obama's specifically is predicated on two strategies: massive investment in national and regional ad buys and comprehensive neighborhood mobilization strategies.

The latter is the key, because it is a strategy, not a tactic.

Regional organizers recruit, test, and train volunteers. The test of leadership for these volunteers is the recruitment of more volunteers. But these are not just volunteers; they are leaders. Not donors, but leaders. Not door knockers... leaders. It is a comprehensive system of community organization done without the investment of HR money because it is founded on voluntary investment of time and energy, where local operations are free to develop management roles that best suit local personalities. It is predicated on canvassing by local community members first, phone calls a distant second, and mailings a far third.

This ground level involvement extends to policy discussions, leading to empowerment and ownership. It does not feel centrally organized, even though it is. It is led from the top and the bottom, facilitated through the internet. Ignatieff began to use these tactics in the last campaign, but only touched on them.

We need more. This must be the philosophy that undergirds the next campaign. It has to be a long term strategy; the building of an infrastructure that will serve the party, not just the candidate.

This leadership campaign must seek to answer in substantive terms what it means to don the red colours. It must be both a discussion and a mobilization. He must emerge to save the party by helping people to believe again--not in a man, but in a belief. Belief in the value of helping others. Belief in the apotheosis of care and compassion over fear of our fellow man.

Stephen Harper relies on fear. He relies on anger. Through mailings and a coordinated message he seeks to make Canadians distrust their neighbours and nurtures anger against those that disagree with us. Liberals have done the same, engendering anger at those very tactics.

Fear and anger mobilize voters.

However, belief mobilizes nations.

It is only through mobilization that we will be competitive financially. But that mobilization is not a result of a campaign message; rather, it is a part of it. It is that community mobilization and engagement that will distinguish the Liberal party as one of truly Canadian spirit; rooted in cooperation, stemming from the community, and founded in compassion.