In Canada over the past decade we’ve seen the continual growth of the phenomena of the “perpetual campaign”; when the campaign never seems to stop, running one into the next until we end up with this non-stop campaign cycle. In the age of social media, that has continued apace. It’s mostly coming from the fringes of the right, or at least the most successful groups have. Those groups have tended to use social media to spread some pretty vile and misleading stuff and have gotten great penetration in the public doing so.
On the progressive side of the fence, there haven’t been as many successful examples to point to. You can look at “PressProgress” from the Broadbent Institute, but they are closer to a news/opposition research service than what is seen on the right. We haven’t really seen a progressive third-party campaign on the Federal level have that kind of success, something that has always left me wondering. It was with that in mind that this came across my Twitter feed today:
That ad from Engage Canada came up, promoting their website and starting their campaign against the Scheer Conservatives. And I’ve got to say I don’t know what to make of the ad; something about it just struck me as so different in tone and language, and not in a way that make me think “what a great ad”. Seeing a progressive group use words like “Hell” in that way or even “weakness” is just very different; honestly, it’s strong language that kind of runs counter to the polite and normally positive ads progressive groups run. Even the bobblehead image seemed a bit crass to me.
That being said, maybe that’s where the mood of the public is. We know that things are tense out there and people are quite unhappy. Probably dropping a few “Hell”s might seem to fit the bill in this environment. But is that the way to go? Is that what we want this campaign to be? Let’s face it folks, many progressives have lamented the tone coming from the further and fringe right. We’ve called it toxic and damaging to our democracy. Do we really want to head down that path? I ask the question not to judge, but out of genuine curiosity. Is that where we are today? Maybe that’s what it will take but I’m not convinced of that today.
Regardless we know that most people have been predicting a rough campaign in the Fall, and that ad falls right in line with that. It’s not even June yet and that’s the ad that’s running. What will that look like in late August or October? I don’t know if that’s what we want or if that’s the best way to go. Either way, that really jumped out at me and if I were someone who was thinking of voting for Andrew Scheer, that’s not the ad that would have persuaded me to do otherwise. We’ll keep an eye on Engage Canada and see what their approach will continue to be going forward, but if it wasn’t clear before, the campaign is now on in earnest, at least in the third-party campaign space. And the permanent campaign continues.