Liberals need to support liberals
Liberals need to support liberals, across divisions in government and separation by geography. The silo-ing of liberalism has been one of the worst trends in the last quarter century, where people focus on being one type of liberal rather than another type. The levels of government are fundamentally arbitrary and the people, split between all three, shouldn’t close themselves off to just only one sphere of the political system. We ought to allocate time to help those in the Liberal fold at whatever level of government they are seeking. If we don’t we do a tremendous disservice to ourselves and others.
Case in point? In the last civic election I tried my damnedest to help two Aldermanic candidates and a mayoral candidate get elected. These guys were Liberals and liberals–party members and ideologically inclined to our positioning–and they weren’t being helped. What they had to rely on was the personal loyalties alone to help them rather than a bloc of people willing and able to help them. What I saw were Liberals running to and fro, competing against one another, and hurting their organizational capabilities. Liberals were even running against each other as candidates and between organizations.
The competition between Liberals was most apparent when Kent Hehr was running for mayor–Liberals were being split between he and Higgins. I have absolutely no idea why–I can barely even fathom why–liberals were helping Higgins in the race. To this day I can’t explain why she was being helped by liberals or about to be voted for by the liberal establishment whilst they held their nose. She openly stated she was a conservative (albeit with a “heart”) and liberals in the legal/business professions were lining up to give her donations. Funnily enough, it was only when Nenshi was endorsed by Hehr, Higgins was shown to not be engaging voters, and Nenshi peeked over the 8% mark a week before the vote did liberals turn to a single candidate and work in tandem. My facebook, twitter, and my small platform on this blog pushed to get him elected after Hehr endorsed him after pulling out–and so did the efforts of many other Liberals. Election day my twitter account was pushing Nenshi–I even coined the word “Purplify” to describe shading one’s twitter icon into Nenshi’s chosen colour–and so were many others.
I saw this focusing of energy around this one candidate and I noted to myself that it could be done in other races. While not every Liberal turned towards Nenshi, and the focusing of support wasn’t solely by Liberals either, I think there’s something powerful here that can be pushed into use in other areas of politics. In the next five years there will be a provincial election (2011/2012), another civic election (2013), another school board election (2013), another federal election (2015), and then another civic election (2016)–in each of these races liberals and Liberals need to look at the field of candidates, spot the ones they know, and start talking about helping those campaigns. And then actually help those campaigns. The great thing is about this community of interests is that success will build upon success, shared lists will grow, loyalty to each other will increase, and a candidates will support other candidates in other areas of politics.
Without a doubt this can happen and grow. Without a doubt the links between people on this liberal chain can grow stronger and more vibrant. All that it takes is to do the following four things: (1) point out other liberals, by talking about them and speaking well of them, (2) chose not to suffer mediocrity in candidates and fight for the ones you believe would be the best liberal choice, (3) follow, at least in principle, my ten rules for liberal debate, and (4) budget every year a portion of your income to donate to liberal causes (I do 5% of my income).
I know of several liberals who have been fighting for other liberals for years. Darryl Raymaker has been a foundation block of liberals for half a century. Laurie Blakemen, current ALP leadership candidate and Liberal MLA, has been mentoring young women across the province by giving them advice, lunches, and being there for them. Josipa Petrunic in Calgay East has taken on mentoring several young liberals. Bruce Payne, another Liberal leadership candidate, has been helping in Lethbridge for Liberals, civic politicians, unions, and faith groups for longer than I have been alive. Neil Mackie, ex-communication director for the ALP and long time Liberal organizer at all levels of government, has been building up other liberals and running campaigns for them for many years. Dawn Litzenberger, Calgary co-cahir for the federal Liberals, has been trying to build this interconnected-ness and mutual support on the federal level for at least half a decade. These things are happening, there are leaders amongst us doing these fundamental activities, and many, many are working hard.
I know at least three liberals running for school board and for sure two candidates for councilor in 2013 in Calgary. I know this because they’re starting collecting IOUs from people, working on other people’s campaigns, and supporting other liberals. I can spot about a half-dozen liberals who are ongoingly courting support for something. They’re building these personal links of loyalty–but they need more than this to secure the support to not only win but to build a wellspring of liberalism. This requires you and me. And this requires everybody.