The truth is, I've been composing this post in my head for a very long time. I hoped I wouldn't have to write it, but I do.
I want to congratulate everyone who busted their behinds day in and day out on this campaign, fighting Dalton and his associates. We gave them a hell of a hard time, and we hurt them badly. They can claim victory, but they are wounded and they know it. We proved we could stand up to the worst they could offer, and that's something to be proud of.
Now for my armchair theories on what we need to do going forward.
1. Getting rid of Hudak is out of the question. The federal Liberals tried this with different leaders after each election and got stomped worse and worse every time. There are no saviours here and the fact that McGuinty has blown it repeatedly will not elevate just anybody into the Premier's chair. We need to build on the gains we've made and keep on pushing. Hudak's problem is that he was a rookie leader trying to take down a two-term majority Premier in one election. Harper lost his first election. Harris lost his first election.
McGuinty is who he is, just like Ford is who he is and Harper is who he is. Yes he's a liar, but people know he's a liar. We didn't let Hudak be authentic. And he certainly didn't get exposed to enough people before the election started.
2. People have complained the platform wasn't conservative enough. That's funny, because the only people who complained about our platform were people who were going to vote for us or for another conservative party. The Liberals tried to attack our platform, and failed miserably. Remember when they were going to make chain gangs the focus of this election?
No, the problem was that we needed to make the case that our platform was good for Ontario, not just an alternative to Dalton McGuinty. Could we really not have an economist sign off on our platform, saying it would help reduce the deficit? Could we not get some endorsements by some well-known individuals who believe the platform would make things better, alongside quotes from hardworking Ontario families?
3. If McGuinty is going to use proxies to attack us, then we need to use proxies too. What was the problem with those sex ed flyers? That our name was on them. Same with the immigrant tax credit. Even the "We can't afford Dalton McGuinty" gave people the impression that we were more interested in running down McGuinty than offering ideas. So, other people need to handle our attacks. McGuinty seemed to be able to produce a range of people, from mayors who should have known that Dalton was no friend of theirs to the leaders of random movements that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared soon afterwards. Where are our allies?
4. Psychological warfare matters. People need to be following Dalton everywhere he goes, activists need to pop up at every single Liberal event and cause disruption, and if one of Dalton's handlers trips and falls, it needs to be on Youtube within the hour. McGuinty makes mistakes when he speaks but we never read about it in the paper. Let's amplify them and destabilize the Liberals. Not just during the campaign either.
5. Now for the one that is going to generate the most anger.
This election result has established as far as I am concerned that the Principled Conservative crowd are a bunch of complainers that forced us to tend to them repeatedly and assure them that, no, we hadn't abandoned our principles or forgotten the true meaning of Christmas or whatever.
So at the beginning of the election, we tossed them a bone and at the end of the election, we tossed them a bone. And while it made the Sun News crew take notice for about two seconds, the fact is that the Sun News crew is more interested in forcing us to keep them happy than they are in letting us take Dalton's votes which is what we need to do IN ORDER TO WIN. Not that it mattered, because they decided to not endorse anyone because they weren't satisfied with the concessions we did make. And in the end, did those concessions really win us votes? I sincerely doubt it, and I am very curious why the central campaign thought this would benefit us at all. But then again, they have to deal with armchair theories on How To Win from the base every day (and yes, I know that's what I'm doing here, but the difference is that I won't throw a tantrum if they disagree), and they did engineer some measure of progress for us, so between the two, I'm siding with them.
In which the Liberal War Room boss cuts Principled Conservative journalist Brian Lilley to ribbons over the Liberal immigrant tax credit.
Now consider, when you watch that embarassment of a video, that Lilley was speaking as a journalist without any restrictions imposed on him by handlers or message control people. He got to yell and scream all he wanted at one of the most hated Liberals walking to make the case that privileging one group of people at the expense of another is wrong. And he still got trounced. Could you do better?Until the Principled Conservatives can prove- not assert loudly, I said PROVE- that we can WIN by releasing a platform that they will like, and not crap all over us when it isn't note-perfect, they should expect to be ignored the way Harper has ignored them.
Oh yes, I forgot. Rob Ford. Rob Ford won against Dalton's ex-attack dog minister, George Smitherman, who was hated by most of the Ontario Liberals, had never sat on Toronto city council, was dogged by the eHealth controversy, and put on a nice-guy act which everyone, including his own campaign volunteers, saw right through. Had David Miller run again, there is some data that suggests he would have won again.
But no- Ford won because of Principled Conservatism. Well, let me tell you that when a single union-funded poll sends you scrambling for a deal and you are forced to compromise, that ain't Principled Conservatism. That's the same kind of two-step we've seen with the federal Conservatives over and over again. It's certainly necessary, but it sure ain't Principled Conservatism. Oh- but Harper gets a pass from the Principled Conservatives because he has a majority and Ford gets a pass because he won a big mandate. Suddenly the problem is union pigs at the trough, not why didn't Ford stand up to those union pigs at the trough. As "Thucidydes" put it so memorably a few days ago in a comment:
"If Hudack loses, or even just squeaks in, there should be some serious housecleaning in the PC party, or movement ot one of the new parties which really does represent Classical Liberal thought."
That, right there, is the problem with so-called Principled Conservatism. If Hudak loses or just squeaks through, then let's burn the house down, but if he had won a majority? Ehhhh....we'll let it slide, apparently.
When these people display the type of wherewithal needed to influence our party by DOING SOMETHING, not just wrecking things by staying home, then I'll treat them with some respect. You think Hudak needs to go? Prove it at the leadership review.
People like Tracey Kent, and all the other red Tories who allowed themselves to become Liberal tools, are a problem too, but these people are so innocuous as to be unworthy of comment. I refer you to Norm Sterling, who was hilariously defeated in his own riding due to his own laziness, not due to any genius tactics employed by those who sought to defeat him.
Now, for most of Friday and Saturday, I will be taking a well deserved break. Comment as you will, if you will, and I'll be back on Sunday to respond. And after that, we shall proceed here at the Clown at Midnight with the Dalton watch.
Keep smiling. :)