Be like Clinton

by Aaron Wherry

Bruce Anderson figures the Conservatives need to do a better job of explaining themselves.

Critically, Mr. Clinton’s partisanship seemed rooted in his argument, not in his DNA: a difference voters notice intuitively. Canadian Conservatives would do better if they put more emphasis on being better “explainers,” and worked to shed, rather than reinforce, the suspicion that they are in politics because they hate people in other parties.

Many (not all) Conservative ministers and MPs often seem forced to utter spin lines or talking points that are almost comically partisan and simplistic. These lines cause inflammation, probably by design, but in the end they prevent voters from ever really hearing the goal behind a policy choice, or the reasons why the Conservatives believe it will work. Confidence in both conservative and liberal ideas weakens when they are presented in a highly partisan way, and the opposite is also true: Canadians are pretty open to rational ideas coming from either side of the spectrum.

Bill Clinton’s success as a speaker is a difficult standard to apply. Does his success demonstrate that voters are more interested in hearing specifics about what a politician plans to do (the so-called “laundry list” style)? Or is it only because Clinton is so talented a speaker that he is able to dwell on policy?

The answer probably isn’t that voters are interested in boring speeches. But I’d bet that voters are more interested in hearing about policy than critics—who evaluate speeches on style—often allow.




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Be like Clinton

  1. Voters are tired of being treated like idiots? — I’ll need some evidence, please —

  2. I’m not sure voters are as interested in rational arguments as he thinks, but I am pretty sure that we hire politicians to lead, and that includes leading the public back toward reason when they’ve wandered off into bumper-sticker land.

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