The vision thing (II)

Lawrence Martin on Ignatieff.

Dumbing down has been equated since the Reagan era with having the common touch. But, according to pollster Frank Graves, there is a growing appetite in Canada for a more sophisticated, intellectual form of leadership. It comes not just from Barack Obama’s having lit the fuse, Mr. Graves says, but from our own experience and conditions. We haven’t had the elevated style since Pierre Trudeau, who remains, according to polls, Canada’s most admired PM.

Since that era, it’s been largely populist and visionless. The country’s politics have swung so low in recent years not just on account of Mr. Harper, who exists almost entirely in the realm of tactics, but on account of Liberal leaders as well.

“We’ve been punching well below our intellectual weight,” says Mr. Graves. “We have the most educated public we have ever had but, instead of reaching higher to them, our politicians go the other way.” They should understand, he says, that “you don’t have to be aw-shucks and lowbrow to relate to average people. Average people are smart. Obama’s victory showed that. On the Republican side, Sarah Palin was making George Bush look like a Nobel Prize winner.”