A theory has arisen recently that opposition parties do not win elections so much as governments get tossed out. So the theory goes this is because governments end up taking the blame for whatever is going wrong in the voter’s minds. Economy in a funk? The government messed it up! Don’t like paying taxes? The government is wasting my money! Those other people are getting too much? The government is favoring them! Can’t get the great career I want? The government is at fault! I’m just angry at I-don’t-know-what? The government is screwing us all over!
Adherents to this theory think that if they want to gain power they only need ramp up the anger in voters’ minds and come Election Day the current government will be defeated while those who stoked the fire will take their rightful spot on the seat of power. It is easy, it works and many a current opposition politician is using this strategy.
But here is the problem. It is far easier to stoke a fire than to douse a blazing inferno. This is doubly true if your only strategy for winning was to make people angry without a plan to calm them down after they have voted those other bastards out. Just voting the bastards out doesn’t dampen the heat.
The situation gets even worse when having won power by simply by making people angry and then being a Rorhschach drawing for every angry voter, the new government chooses to keep fanning the flames to ensure that they get re-elected. Having won by making voters angry enough to vote out the previous government, the new ruling party acts to keep them angry so they will re-elect it without seeing any progress on what made them angry in the first place. Perverse logic. Let’s all hope it won’t continue to work in the U.S., Britain and Canada or anywhere.
We have our responsibilities as well. We need to turn off our outrage buttons. Take a deep breath before responding to red meat comments and dog whistles. Insist that our politicians make it clear to us what they actually plan to do about serious issues we face. Who will they listen to while in power? Themselves? Just their base? Anyone?