The all-at-once political platform

In 2005 Stephen Harper's Tories began the election with the announcement that they would cut the dreaded GST tax to 5 per cent from 7 per cent. This headline-grabbing statement (made in a consumer electronics store), was followed up with almost daily policy announcements. In fact, it soon became clean that the Tories' election strategy was based on releasing their entire platform one trickle at a time, with well-staged photo ops.

This worked brilliantly. And, frankly, I think it's good for democracy. For as long as elections are covered by TV (or its new-media variations) photo-ops will be necessary. For years, these photo ops felt like exactly what they were: bad, vacuous theatre arranged by political handlers. To have a photo-op be tied to a policy statement -- ie. an announcement of a potential change to life in Canada -- provides these photo ops with some meat. And by stretching out these photo-ops over weeks, reporters, intellectuals and the rest of the voting public can digest all of the policy they may or may not vote for.

After Harper beat the unbeatable Martin, I predicted that this would be the status quo for Canadian elections henceforth. 

It seems I was wrong. The NDP and the Tories are both set to release their policy books next week. We, the voting public who are influence by policy, who are trying to care about this election, and who are also stretched so many ways, will be asked to vote on fat books of policy presented all at once, and likely poorly read or summarized by time-constrained journalists. Sure, eventually these red books, green books and blue books will be fully digested by policy-minded people, but by then they will not be new and thus not news. And when something isn't news, it doesn't make the news, limiting the number of people who receive digested versions on this policy.

This is bad politics, because we're back to vacuous photo-ops. And this is bad for democracy because we're back to voting for the man or woman we hate least.