Has this ever happened to you? You're toiling away on a campaign and all of a sudden, you find out something damaging about your Liberal opponent. He or she said something stupid or did something unethical. Or maybe it's someone connected to your Liberal opponent, or to McGuinty himself. Sure, it won't turn the election on its own, but it will force the other guys into damage control. And you're the only one who knows about it.
Flushed with excitement, you run back to the campaign office or to central campaign clutching the proof in your hot little hand. Boy oh boy, you've really got the Liberals by the short hairs now.
But when you get there, the reaction's a bit more....muted. People find your story interesting, but they're not anywhere near as excited as you are. And then, as reality sets back in, you hear those three deadly words:
"It's a trap."
It's a trap. The Liberals wanted you to find that quote, or they intentionally said something ridiculously stupid to the media. It's not like they, you know, make mistakes or anything. So we're not going to do anything about it.
One of the main reasons that I cannot take Principled Conservatives seriously is because they complain about how the campaign was too nicey-nicey but spend a good chunk of time scaring each other about how the all-knowing, all-seeing Liberal eye in the sky is at this moment plotting to lure them into a trap. To hear these rational Conservatives talk you would think that we were up against Tzeentch, the Chaos God of ambition, planning, and change, not Dalton McGuinty, and that this guy has otherworldly powers that wouldn't be out of place in a DC comic book.
As I observed in my last post, we might be able to make more progress against the Liberals if we weren't so busy trying to screw over the other half of the party, and we might be able to run bold and less fearful campaigns if we stopped telling each other ridiculous ghost stories about the plotting, Machiavellian Liberals and started relating to Dalton and his coterie like they were people with lives like ours who are mortal, and who do make mistakes, and who we can look at without bursting into flames.
During the election, I heard people switch from, "Heheheheh, Dalton's really blown it on this tax credit, Hudak's really ripping him a new one" to "Yeah, that tax credit was an obvious trap and Hudak walked right into it, what a noob" so quickly I felt my head spin. Seriously? If you believe that the immigrant tax credit was a trap, then you might as well believe that Dave Levac misspoke when he actually mistyped that a carbon tax was on the table, or that McGuinty's possessed hands during the debate was a strategy aimed at engaging women. After the fact Liberal spin in all three cases.
But let's say, for the sake of argument, that it WAS a trap, and that not only was it a trap, it was leaked to us with the foreknowledge that we would attack and drop in the polls. Let's say that Jeff Leal, MPP for Peterborough, planned all along to comment about how the tax credit was intended to deal with a problem in Toronto, as if there are no immigrants anywhere else in the province. Let's say that the numerous clarifications the Liberals issued were also part of the plan, calculated down to the last detail months in advance in a marvel of forethought.
If all of that is true, then it means that nobody took the time to identify whether it was a leak, and ran with it without thinking. And if that is true- and I pray it isn't- then it means that all this supposed worry about "It's a trap" is even more useless than I thought it was, because all that caution did nothing to prevent us from being bilked by the supposed brilliant Liberal ploy.
Why stop there? When the Liberals were 20 points down in the summer and 16 Liberals quit, that was obviously a ploy too. All the polling companies were fooled by their play dead act, a nefarious Liberal trap to lure us into a false sense of security. No, wait....all the polling companies were told to underreport the Liberals, then overreport them at the end of the campaign. And the media? All on the payroll too. Including Sun News, and CFRB 1010, and the National Post. Liberal spy cameras in the drinking water! Liberals jamming radio broadcasts! Liberals beaming thoughts into people's minds! Of course nobody can ever prove that this skullduggery is happening.
And when we do prove that something is going on? Well, nobody ever follows up with it, so why bother? Except when we proved Nikki Holland was bribing voters with smokes, it destabilized the Liberals for a few days. And that's what the objective should be. It's not about sinking the Liberals with one well placed damaging revelation. It's about keeping them off balance so that we can make gains while they're running around putting the fires out. Obviously the media is not going to bother (because they're on the payroll, no doubt) so it's up to us to keep the Liberals off track, and that means a constant barrage of damaging information, no matter how petty it is.
What's that? You don't want the party to get involved with this stuff? Well hey, isn't that what we have ever-helpful bloggers for? *cough cough*
Now, I'm not in any position to make recommendations or expect they would be followed, but if I was, I would recommend that instead of arguing about whether we need to drop the P from Progressive Conservative or not, we bloggers and activists should be digging into the closet of every single one of the 53 Liberal MPPs at Queen's Park and making their lives unliveable instead of complaining about how the party won't. Just a crazy thought.