Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Warren Kinsella unplugged and offline

Headed to Toronto-Danforth this evening (where Liberal Andrew Lang is ready to give Jack Layton a fight in the next election) to hear Warren Kinsella talk about European post-impressionism... ok, about politics. How to campaign, and how to win.

Much of his talk would have been familiar to readers of his blog writings over the years, but it was still interesting to hear it in person and it was an entertaining presentation. Here's a few random points he made:

*Speaking about the Conservative Party's obscene money advantage, he rightly noted that (as important as money is) if money was everything, Ross Perot would have been elected U.S. president. Or Steve Forbes. Or some other rich guy.

*What the Liberal pitch should be: government services, go green, the economy. We have the plan and the team, the Conservatives don't.

*The fight Jim Flaherty has been picking with Dalton McGuinty will go down as the dumbest strategy in history, and the best thing is they can't help themselves. Dalton was just re-elected last fall with an even bigger majority, clearly Ontarians much think he's doing something right. And agitating him will only get his loyalists more active federally for Stephane Dion. Also on Ontario, the fed Liberals would be wise to support McGuinty on his fiscal fairness push.

*Stephen Harper is doing well with male voters, they're not falling in love but many are thinking he's not as bad as we'd feared. Female voters, however, are smarter and more intuitive. They don't like Harper; they can tell something is off.

*In Quebec, Harper's spooning with Jean Charest is over and Mario Dumont has proven a wet firecracker, cozying up to him was a mistake. Harper's in trouble in Quebec. Yes, the Liberals aren't doing well either. But Quebecers are strategic voters, they like a winner, if the Liberals can get momentum in the rest of the country Quebecers will sense it and join the parade.

*Bloggers that think they can really affect political change should give their heads a shake, blogs will not supplant the main stream media. The Conservatives have deliberately decided to piss off the media, big mistake. They're putting a lot of stock in the new media, they think the political discourse is happening on the Web...it's not, and it's a fundamental miscalculation by the Conservatives.

*Stephane Dion is a decent, hard working guy...and so are Canadians. Well, and gals too. Canadians will always gravitate to the person most like them, because they think (rightly or wrongly) that's the person that will best understand them. Don't try to change Dion, people can sense a phony. Let him be himself, he comes off as earnest and sincere...just to eager and in a hurry. If he can slow down a little and explain what he's about, what he's proposing, people will get on board.

*Lastly, on the Web he says it's becoming all about being visual, and video. People won't read long blocks of text (except you, you're an exceptional Canadian, rock on). Campaigns need to get into video clips, like the McGuinty Liberals did last fall. (I made an amateur attempt last week.)

UPDATE: Now with video:



FURTHER UPDATE: Aaron Ginsberg of All Politics is Local was there too and adds his thoughts. And Dan too, with the top ten list.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

6 comments:

Steve V said...

"*Speaking about the Conservative Party's obscene money advantage, he rightly noted that (as important as money is) if money was everything, Ross Perot would have been elected U.S. president. Or Steve Forbes. Or some other rich guy."

This isn't some rich guy that wants to dabble, this a well financed, entrenched organization. Big, big difference.

"*The fight Jim Flaherty has been picking with Dalton McGuinty will go down as the dumbest strategy in history, and the best thing is they can't help themselves. Dalton was just re-elected last fall with an even bigger majority, clearly Ontarians much think he's doing something right. And agitating him will only get his loyalists more active federally for Stephane Dion. Also on Ontario, the fed Liberals would be wise to support McGuinty on his fiscal fairness push."

The polls went from Conservatives average a outside of margin lead, to Liberals well ahead in a month. The biggest politically tone deaf boner of this government.


"*Lastly, on the Web he says it's becoming all about being visual, and video. People won't read long blocks of text (except you, you're an exceptional Canadian, rock on). Campaigns need to get into video clips, like the McGuinty Liberals did last fall."

If there is anything more boring than Warren pulling out groceries on video, I don't what is, so I don't see that angle as engaging. Sorry Warren, but that shit is bad :) That said, there is a full video of one of Dion's townhalls which I've tried to get posted online, and there seems some resistence, Liberals are still wary of unedited reality. When you look at what the American center-left is doing online, the Liberals are still in the dark ages, which for the life of me I don't understand. It says something about the old guard still in control, work to be done and the type of grassroots outreach which will really signal the "new" Liberal Party.

That's my two cents.

Jason Cherniak said...

I've been putting off the post for a while, but I couldn't disagree more with the last point. I don't think videos work in politics except for the base.

Johanna said...

That was really embarrassing.
I love the no pan camera technique to hide there only being 11 people in attendance. Looks like this Lang fella really has the momentum. And Kinsella must bedrawing sone huge speaking fees

Demosthenes said...

I would have been more impressed by that "bloggers have no impact on the discourse" argument if Kinsella ever looked south of the US-Canada border.

To argue that the "netroots" have had no impact would be difficult; to argue that Obama didn't build his victory on the back of the Internet would be insane. Considering the guy's a huge Obama fan, you'd think he'd pay attention to minor points like that.

(Ditto with money advantages. Is he seriously going to argue that the Dem's money advantage is somehow unimportant?)

Jason: video works, but only if it's short and preferably funny. You'll notice the "netroots" hasn't gone into video in any giant way, except for the bloggingheads stuff.

Steve: the Liberals are clearly TERRIFIED of the Internet. After the Klander affair, it's not surprising, but it is a bit sad.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Since in the post I was mainly reporting some of Warren`s comments, I`ll chime-in now with some of my own thoughts.

Steve, on money yes, that`s true, the Conservative Party is no Ross Perot, although money can buy a pretty good organization. Money is important. But I think the money advantage can be overstated. Particularly in Canada, with our cap on election spending. At least during the writ period here, you can`t buy an election. Spending is capped, and the three majors will all spend the max this campaign.

So during the campaign the Con money advantage is moot, and doing In and Out II will be a lot harder this time. It`s pre-writ, when there`s no spending cap, that the money gap is an issue. Not being able to respond to the attack ads is one thing. But, also, people don`t pay much attention to politics outside of campaigns anyway, so while not good it`s not the end of the world either.

The point that was being made, I think, is that the money advantage can, and often is, overstated. If it was JUST about money, we`d have had President Perot.

Jason,

On video, I disagree, but it needs to be the right video. I don`t think we`ve gotten it right in Canada yet. It`s not, sorry Warren, your trips to McDonalds. Nor my long in and out report. The vids during the Ontario campaign the Libs did, ToryTube, I think you`re right, mainly appeal to the base, and other partisans who aren`t going to be swayed anyway. The trick is getting something that can go viral, that will get e-mailed around by average folks. That`s harder to do, to find, and to define. But in the wider sense though, I think video does have the potential to reach a wider audience than textual blogging. Both will co-exist though. I think video use should be selective, video for video`s sake won`t work.

johanna, it was a gathering of local young liberals to hear a veteran organizer speak on the democratic process, on a Wednesday evening in the middle of the summer. Expecting 1000s is silly. If silly exageration is the name of the game, I`ll say there was 100 people there, and both our estimates will be equally accurate.

Demosthenes,

I wouldn`t go as far as the Warren on the impact of bloggers, but I think in his main point he was right: they`re not going to supplant the MSM. Here, or in the U.S. People don`t get their news only from blogs. At least, not average people. Most still form their political opinions from the MSM, from TV ads, and from family votinh history.

I think bloggers can motivate and energize the base. Within the party they can be influential, say, in a leadership or nomination situation. I think their influence, on a wider scale, relies on their ability to try to shape the MSM agenda. If the blogsphere can get enough noise going on an issue they can force the MSM to cover that issue: that`s where I see their influence at this point.

Saskboy said...

I even looked at the video after reading everything. I'm either an exceptional Canadian, or bored ;-)