Scudding the mud

It’s a tough week for federal politicians.

It’s a tough week for federal politicians. While they’re busy knocking on doors and kissing puppies in a frantic bid to convince Canadians that election fatigue isn’t covered by health care, the voters are more likely to be tuning into the NHL playoffs or deleting the election debates off their PVRs to make room for the impending Royal Wedding marathon.

How does one compete with a do-or-die Game 7 and the pomp and circumstance of the one thing the UK still does better and grander than anyone else? The solution it seems is: if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The main parties are already off to a good start with a bombardment of Scud missile attack ads and Patriot interceptors, which is the political equivalent of standing behind a wire fence at the edge of the playground and calling your arch enemy “Fatty, fatty, fartsalot.” It doesn’t matter if your enemy is actually a blubbery flatulator or not — throw enough mud and some of it is bound to stick in the mind of the cute blonde you both have your eye on.

In sports, they call this style of psychological warfare ‘trash talk’.

In politics, it’s called ‘going American’.

In civilian life, we tend to refer to it as being a jerk.

But it works. For every person offended by this style of attack, the parties must manage to sway enough voters to their message to make it worthwhile — otherwise, why would they bother?

With the trash talk working the fan base into a lather, the next step is to convince everyone that your team is the true underdog. Everybody loves to cheer for the underdog. After all, it’s the underdogs who make sure they listen to the special interest groups from the legalization of marijuana to environmental protection and the increasingly important right-to-die debate.

And once again every party is able to point the finger at another party and say it’s their fault we’re heading back to the polls — that really they’re the downtrodden and if we could just give one of them a majority, then all this silliness would end and the pageantry can begin.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t. Despite the frustration of another election, a minority government is good for our country. It keeps the governing party on its toes and allows the voters a chance to have a meaningful voice. Too often, a majority government becomes complacent and ignores the people it works for — a minority government can’t.  M

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