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From Principled to Instrumental

Once the writ was dropped the NDP shifted its orientation from principled leadership to instrumental conformity with the other major parties. I believe once the primary objective of the NDP became the instrumental goal of winning the election; their currency in the collective in image003telligence began to shift, leading to an eventual decline in the polls. As the opposition in Parliament they had a reputation for principled opposition. Pundits acknowledged them as the best opposition in years as Mulcair reasoned against the bad behavior of the Harper regime even when their opposition was statistically unpopular as with Bill C51. For four years they led a consistent narrative, “Harper had to go” while the Liberals floundered using their fast thinking to habitually do the politically expedient. The Liberals readily voted with Harper and his fear mongering. The NDP were clearly established as the best alternative for a Non-Harper Government. The polls indicated this and it seemed to be the dominant opinion in my discussion circles.

Once in campaign mode the NDP frame of reference changed dramatically. They transitioned from principled opposition to a focus on elect-ability. Beginning with Jack Layton, the NDP leadership opted for elect-ability over a principled campaign. They thought principles were only effective if they got elected, so they had better focus on the instrumentality of getting elected. Their ideology of elect-ability became they had to occupy the middle. They wanted to occupy the space they perceived was occupied by the Liberals. With the Liberal defeat in 2011, some were encouraged to aspire to replace the Liberals for all time. Inured in this strategy they had courted allies from Team Obama. In successive policy conventions they hosted first Marshal Gantz in Halifax. In the Montreal 2013 convention they hosted Gantz' associate, Jeremy Bird. Bird was featured in Isenberg’s The Victory Lab: the Secret Science of Winning Campaigns as the get out the vote strategist and innovator for Team Obama. (Issenburg, 2012, pp. 78-99)

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