Can We Stop Falling For "Star Candidates" Please?

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Aristotleded24
Can We Stop Falling For "Star Candidates" Please?

Something that is really bothering me, given the accusations of domestic assault against Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew and now the accusations of associating with Sikh terrorism made against Jagmeet Singh, is that despide several instances of star candidates crashing and burning after a leadership campaign, NDP supporters still managed to fall for this. I will preface my explanation below by saying that this post is in no way an attempt to recall either of them from their leadership post.

Whenever there is a leadership race in a particular political party, there usually emerges one particular candidate that the media will annoint as the Saviour of the party, and who will lead the party into the Promised Land. When deciding which candidate to support, this is for me the kiss of death right there. No one has those magical capabilities. Every prospective leader is a human being, with history, biases, hopes, dreams, fears, concerns, assets, and challenges. The problem with "star candidates" is that very often they are built up during the course of the race, and information on the candidate's less desirable attributes comes out after the vote is made. I think this is a reinforcing pattern because these leaders tend to become addicted to the popularity, and they actually believe all the nonsense people say about them. This becomes a problem when the leader has to ask tough questions because coming out of this mindset they are so used to being liked, and have a hard time imagining why anybody would question them? Popularity comes and goes, but if you have no core principles on which to stand, what happens when your popularity wanes?

Take Wab Kinew. After Kevin Chief resigned his seat, all the talk was about how Kinew was the party's Messiah. He was going to lead the party to greatness, he was going to connect with young and First Nations voters, he knew how to do selfies, is what the party establishment told us. He was effectively annointed the next leader of the NDP, and given the ridiculous delegate voting system the Manitoba NDP uses, the actual leadership vote was more of a formality anyways. So Kinew is going to save the party, and then, just before the vote was held, accusations of domestic assault against him became public.

Take Jagmeet Singh. He was the last candidate entering the NDP leadership race, had almost no identifiable public policies he was willing to stand for other than applying a means test for old age benefits, and almost no name recogntion outside of the GTA. In spite of all of this, the national media built him up as some sort of super star, the messiah of the NDP, the one who was the NDP's version of Trudeau, who would connect with young voters and new Canadians, who was just so popular and liked. Now, there are accusations of associating with Sikh extremists. To be fair, I do not know enough about that to form my own opinion on the matter, and I generally distrust what the media have to say about it, given that they generally aren't telling the hard truth about what life in this country is really like for ordinary people. Still, this is information that should have come out before the leadership vote.

In both cases, you have candidates being built up, the party membership falling for it, and then all of a sudden the party and the leaders now have to deal with issues they were unprepared for, wasting valuable time and energy that could have been used to win elections. This is especially true of the NDP which can generally count on bad press when the press does pay attention to it. Furthermore, the NDP is supposed to be the party of ideas. What ideas do we need to champion? How do we articulate what it means to be social democrats in the 21st century? Why do we keep falling for this con? Sometimes it's okay to support a known candidate with massive flaws over a relative unknown who seems to be popular at the moment, because at least with the candidate with known issues, you know exactly what the critics will say and you can effectively plan to address that. But if you go with the popular candidate and then a bomb lands in the party's lap in the closing days of the election, what do you do then?

Pondering

Singh supporters haven't pushed the savior narrative the right-wing press did that. Singh made no secret of his politics. You don't know people's reasoning for voting for him and you don't know that this will be a problem longterm. 

Singh's focus is on inequality. He seems to be alone in that. 

JKR

I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think that it would be better if elected members of parliament and the candidates chosen by party members to run for election but lost in the previous election, chose the parliamentary leader. Under this system the party members would still directly choose their local candidates. I think this kind of system would work better within our system of responsible government.

josh

Tell that to the NDP insiders and the political columnists who listen to them.

Pondering

JKR wrote:

I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think that it would be better if elected members of parliament and the candidates chosen by party members to run for election but lost in the previous election, chose the parliamentary leader. Under this system the party members would still directly choose their local candidates. I think this kind of system would work better within our system of responsible government.

You mean the members wouldn't have a direct say in choosing the leader of the party? Caucus and failed candidates would decide?

Aristotleded24

josh wrote:
Tell that to the NDP insiders and the political columnists who listen to them.

The membership had a choice to buy into the star power or think critically. They chose the former. That is who this is directed at. We have seen the script of stars burning out time and time again, and it just boggles my mind that people still fall for it.

JKR

Pondering wrote:

JKR wrote:

I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think that it would be better if elected members of parliament and the candidates chosen by party members to run for election but lost in the previous election, chose the parliamentary leader. Under this system the party members would still directly choose their local candidates. I think this kind of system would work better within our system of responsible government.

You mean the members wouldn't have a direct say in choosing the leader of the party? Caucus and failed candidates would decide?

Yes. Party members would choose their local candidates who would choose and also be able to remove the parliamentary leader. I think our current system gives too much power to political leaders. I also think caucus and candidates representing the party and running for office are in a better position to select and remove leaders as they deal with the leader more closely and on a more regular basis. Most importantly, I think the inability of party members to remove their leaders gives leaders too much power.

Quote:
As Canadian historian Christopher Moore convincingly maintains: “A Canadian political party today is little more than a leader flanked by a bagman, a spin-doctor and poll-taker; everyone else is just saying aye and pounding signs.

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/douglas-todd-five-reasons-opp...

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:

I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think that it would be better if elected members of parliament and the candidates chosen by party members to run for election but lost in the previous election, chose the parliamentary leader. Under this system the party members would still directly choose their local candidates. I think this kind of system would work better within our system of responsible government.

Interesting -- but why exclude the elected ones? Why not have leaders selected by an assembly of nominated candidates? The first problem is this creates a break from the membership, lack of accountability to members and the risk that a bias in candidates or issues with the process will be duplicated in the leadership.

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

JKR wrote:

I hate to say this but I'm beginning to think that it would be better if elected members of parliament and the candidates chosen by party members to run for election but lost in the previous election, chose the parliamentary leader. Under this system the party members would still directly choose their local candidates. I think this kind of system would work better within our system of responsible government.

Interesting -- but why exclude the elected ones? Why not have leaders selected by an assembly of nominated candidates? The first problem is this creates a break from the membership, lack of accountability to members and the risk that a bias in candidates or issues with the process will be duplicated in the leadership.

I would include the elected ones. I think an "assembly of nominated candidates" should be the body to select and remove leaders. I think an "assembly of nominated candidates" is a very good idea and that they might also be able to perform other functions very well.

Of course, party members would still be able to select and remove their local candidate between elections.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I also think caucus and candidates representing the party and running for office are in a better position to select and remove leaders as they deal with the leader more closely and on a more regular basis.

And are also in a position somewhat dependent on them.  In other words, I don't want some MP/MPP choosing the leader they feel is most likely to assign them a cabinet position.  That MP/MPP probably has more skin in the game than I do.

Pondering

What you are saying is that people are too gullible to be allowed direct democracy. They must elect representatives to make the decision on their behalf. Good luck with that. I think you will find the trend is moving in the opposite direction. Members want more of a say and so do Canadians in general. One reason for Trudeau's popularity is that anyone who wanted to could vote for the leader of the Liberal party. It was not decided by the insiders or caucus like Ignatieff and Rae were. 

I didn't even begin to support Singh until well after the clip in which he handled a heckler with the corny "love and courage" line. 

I know Angus is all upset that the old school NDP has lost power within the party. Others are upset the NDP didn't go all in on the Leap Manifesto. Generational change happens. Singh does have substance. His image grabs him attention, gives him listening ears, but he wins people over after they hear him speak.

He is certainly way better than Mulcair. Canada doesn't need a Sanders or Corbin. The lay of the land here is not the same as it is in the UK or the US. We need a genuinely progressive leader that can put inequality on the national stage as an election issue and that can focus attention on the neoliberal structure that promotes inequality. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
One reason for Trudeau's popularity is that anyone who wanted to could vote for the leader of the Liberal party. It was not decided by the insiders or caucus like Ignatieff and Rae were.

Or even necessarily by Liberal supporters.

What did a vote cost?  More or less than a ticket to the opera?

josh

Pondering wrote:

What you are saying is that people are too gullible to be allowed direct democracy. They must elect representatives to make the decision on their behalf. Good luck with that. I think you will find the trend is moving in the opposite direction. Members want more of a say and so do Canadians in general. One reason for Trudeau's popularity is that anyone who wanted to could vote for the leader of the Liberal party. It was not decided by the insiders or caucus like Ignatieff and Rae were. 

I didn't even begin to support Singh until well after the clip in which he handled a heckler with the corny "love and courage" line. 

I know Angus is all upset that the old school NDP has lost power within the party. Others are upset the NDP didn't go all in on the Leap Manifesto. Generational change happens. Singh does have substance. His image grabs him attention, gives him listening ears, but he wins people over after they hear him speak.

He is certainly way better than Mulcair. Canada doesn't need a Sanders or Corbin. The lay of the land here is not the same as it is in the UK or the US. We need a genuinely progressive leader that can put inequality on the national stage as an election issue and that can focus attention on the neoliberal structure that promotes inequality. 

That sounds just like Sanders and Corbin.

But Singh’s win had nothing to do with those issues.

JKR

Pondering wrote:

What you are saying is that people are too gullible to be allowed direct democracy. They must elect representatives to make the decision on their behalf. Good luck with that. I think you will find the trend is moving in the opposite direction. Members want more of a say and so do Canadians in general. One reason for Trudeau's popularity is that anyone who wanted to could vote for the leader of the Liberal party. It was not decided by the insiders or caucus like Ignatieff and Rae were. 

I didn't even begin to support Singh until well after the clip in which he handled a heckler with the corny "love and courage" line. 

I know Angus is all upset that the old school NDP has lost power within the party. Others are upset the NDP didn't go all in on the Leap Manifesto. Generational change happens. Singh does have substance. His image grabs him attention, gives him listening ears, but he wins people over after they hear him speak.

He is certainly way better than Mulcair. Canada doesn't need a Sanders or Corbin. The lay of the land here is not the same as it is in the UK or the US. We need a genuinely progressive leader that can put inequality on the national stage as an election issue and that can focus attention on the neoliberal structure that promotes inequality. 

Members may want more say but I think they have less say now that party leaders have more power than ever. I think things were better when caucus had more power to influence and curb the leader.

I think an "assembly of nominated candidates" could have chosen Singh to be leader. My hunch is that such an assembly would have tried to select Megan Leslie. I think Singh is a good leader but Leslie would have been a better choice.

In any case I think the concentration of power to the party leaders and moreso to the prime minister, is not a good thing.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
One reason for Trudeau's popularity is that anyone who wanted to could vote for the leader of the Liberal party. It was not decided by the insiders or caucus like Ignatieff and Rae were.

Or even necessarily by Liberal supporters.

What did a vote cost?  More or less than a ticket to the opera?

I think it was free but I also think it might have been 10$, not sure which. 

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