Saturday, June 16, 2012

Liberal Leaders: Guaranteed Support?

Nothing succeeds like success, and nothing fails like failure. We Liberals have blown through four leaders in recent years (I count Bob Rae among the four because he has been much more than a caretaker). Our leaders have all failed - because we have not supported them. When the Harper attack ads started, we let ourselves be affected. When a new leader had some missteps out of the gate, we called for his head. When the first election the leader presided over didn't go well, we dumped his sorry ass.

It's obvious that what we need to do is give our next leader the time to learn the job. Historically, new party leaders falter in the beginning. Most Prime Ministers didn't get there on their first try. Many didn't look too sharp for the first term or two.

In particular, when we know the leader we've chosen is inexperienced (like Ignatieff), we have to not only give him some slack but be supportive. Any of our last four leaders could have led us to victory, given time and support. What failed is us, the party, not them.

Why does this happen? We have the recent memory of being called Canada's natural ruling party, and there is an impatience to regain our former stature. We blame the leader for not doing it - even though we should all know that it is going to take time for a leader to not just learn, but develop the right team, develop policies, build support in the electorate, make allies, and on and on. I suspect we also have a party loaded up with formerly powerful politicians who are now invested in finding controversial topics to please editors.

We may have to face a situation where our choices for leader are all at the bottom of the barrel. Gerard Kennedy's name is being bandied about - he with a three year college degree, little French, a trumped-up CV and unable to even keep his seat: the definition of an empty pretty boy. He may be what we get. Whoever we get, it is our responsibility to make the most of him: not to whine and complain and demand a replacement.

Why don't we guarantee our next leader that he or she gets the time needed to succeed? Why not say from the outset that they have a two-election term - and we don't expect that they will significantly increase seats in the first of those elections? What about making a pledge (with specifics) to support and help our next leader?

Why would ANYONE agree to take the position without something along those lines? Why would Justin Trudeau want to follow his four predecessors into the pit of humiliating failure?

I have been supporting Bob Rae for leader since he first threw his hat in the ring six years ago. Most of the party divided their support between the four front-runners (in order of support at the convention): Ignatieff, Rae, Dion, Kennedy. Supporters of the first three men have watched the party choose and then pick to death their candidate. It hasn't been a happy experience for any of us. It definitely hasn't helped the party. And it shouldn't happen again.



kitt said...

Lets not forget the many Liberals who stayed home cause their favourite was not the leader or they voted for one of the other parties. We lost great men who could have led the Liberal party to power or at least prevented Harper from destroying Canada with his majority. Shame on us..... said...

Yes Dion would have spoken fluent english and abandoned the green plan if only Liberals unified behind him (which as I recall they did).

And Ignatieff would have actually showed up to the House of Commons and connected with Canadians if only Liberals unified behind him (which as I recall they did).

kitt said...

Remember Chretien's fluent english and french? And who believes lies from an opponent party leader hurling insults to gain votes? LOL Especially since Ignatieff missed the House cause he was touring Canada meeting Liberals and trying to knit the party together.

kitt said...

I think the next Liberal leader should be an a**hole who will not take it from other leaders or party hounchos..... (like Harper and Jack) Nice Liberal guys finish last, it seems. said...

Kit, yeah sure Dion spoke better english than Chretien, Canadians knew that but kept complaining about Dion anyway, that makes sense.

And his Green Plan was the smartest move since Laurier's sliced bread.

You're also right that the NDP lies about Ignatieff were in fact lies because they were true.

People would stop weakening Liberal Leaders if the members stopped choosing unrepresentative, distant, elitist ones.

There is such a thing as being objectively bad as a leader.

The Dude said...

We do believe the attack ads against our leader. Even now the media has decided that if Trudeau runs that he's
"inexperienced" etc blah blah blah. And many Liberals will start to believe it without realizing there might be a 2 election campaign. And the simplist argument of all...Harper had no experiece either. Or that old Trudeau guy. The media jumps on it, yet barely goes after what teh gov't is doing. What a weird time.

Yappa said...

Rae certainly isn't unrepresentative, distant or elitist.

Dion's green plan was well received at first, and the environment was a top priority for Canadians - until the abrupt financial collapse that sent the economy in a tailspin. The timing was very unfortunate.

Ignatieff brought skills that Canada needs now and that no other national leader has - skills to help us create a new, united vision for Canada.

They all had flaws, but they all had a lot to offer as well.