Posts tagged ‘US elections’

Big lesson from wee Canada

Tired of all the election speculation coming out of the U.S. these days?  Well allow this polite, humble Canadian to steer your attention north of the Canada-U.S. border to where another federal election campaign is underway – one that may be over before most of the world realizes it had ever began.

 

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that since settling at Fleishman Hillard Brussels, I haven’t heard a peep about the excitement back home, despite my religious attachment to FH Canada’s election blog – http://election08.fleishman.ca/ (yes, what a shameless plug). What with global economic meltdowns, U.S. election debates and U.K. party politics, there’s not much room in the political newscycle for wee Canada.

But gosh darn it (yes, Canadians are that polite), wee Canada deserves some attention!  After all, if you consider that the land of beavers, Mounties and maple syrup will be the first member of the G8 to go to the polls following “the worst financial crisis since ’29”, there may be a few reasons to watch and learn from the Canadian experience.

While I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting that the fate of incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a pre-cursor to John McCain’s (all told, it’s most likely that Harper will eek out a small minority government this coming Monday), both men’s laissez-faire approach have been interpreted by their opponents as “out-of-touch” and lacking compassion.  Just look at the reaction to Mr. Harper’s suggestion yesterday that the recent downturn is an opportunity to buy cheap stocks and you’ll understand how exceedingly sensitive members of the public are becoming to the current economic situation.  It seems people want both a big heart and big government in these times of need and the small-C conservatives who ignore this point, both in Canada and abroad, do so at their peril.

But then again, we should not forget that “conservative” governments, including the current Republican administration, have been at the head of some of the largest government spending projects in modern history.  No Child Left Behind, money for AIDS in Africa, the war in Iraq – good or bad, these are all record-making expenditures that precede the most recent and single largest cheque ever written by a national government in the history of the world.  Perhaps when John McCain suggested in yesterday’s presidential debate that Barack Obama would raise taxes, the Democratic candidate should have answered, “Yes, to pay for Republican bills!”.  And given the fact that an economic turnaround is not foreseeable at this point, could it be that these big spend tendencies will be reinforced?  Again, today’s support from the U.K. Tories for Gordon Brown’s £50 billion bank bail-out is but another example.

But I digress – and most certainly do so at the peril of future postings on this blog!  So let me end by revising my argument about the significance of the highly under-covered Canadian campaign.  Perhaps not only will this election be a clear reminder for conservatives, worldwide, of the need to go back to their big government roots, it may in fact represent one of the last major Western campaigns for a while where conservatives can credibly argue for smaller government.

But then again, I’m getting ahead of myself.  I am after all just a humble Canuck pining for a little world attention.

Canuckia Blair

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October 9, 2008 at 9:33 am 9 comments

Blog the news that’s fit to print

Our colleagues to the north Fleishman-Hillard Edinburgh hosted a lecture last week about the US Presidential elections and Obama vs. McCain. You can read about the event on FH’s Public Affairs Cloakroom blog and even see a short video of the remarks from Fleishman Hillard’s Bill Black; former UK Ambassador to the US Sir Christopher Meyer, currently a member of FH’s International Advisory Board; and the Right Honourable George Reid, former MP, MSP and Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

One question caught my attention. A long-term Edinburgh resident and US citizen asked the panel what sources a person could read to inform themselves about the candidates without relying on the daily churn of media reports. Bill immediately recommended blogs, noting that many bloggers eschew the claimed objectivity of newspapers, but offer much more depth and often a historical knowledge. His list of blogs to read is:

You can listen to Bill here as well.

October 7, 2008 at 12:47 pm Leave a comment

Obama and the iPhone

Image representing IPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

There is little doubt that if queues to vote for the Democrats on November 4 are comparable to queues on the release of the iPhone, then Obama will be a happy man.  Last week Obama’s team announced that the link between Obama and the iPhone ran deeper, with the creation of an application for the iPhone which encourages friends and families to vote.

The imaginatively-named ‘Obama 08 Phone App’ has a ‘Call Friends’ option that prioritizes contacts by key battleground states and asks users to call their friends in those states to vote for Obama. The software also enables users to receive updates about the campaign and set reminders to call friends on Election Day. Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign explained, “A contact has a lot more value when it is from someone you know than when it is from some random person,” said Chris Hughes, the director of online organizing for the Obama campaign.

Amid such talk, it is easy to forget that the subject of the conversation is political campaigning. Indeed, categories such as “Not Interested,” “Considering Obama” and “Already Voted,” are more suggestive of an online dating tool. Herein lies the ingenuity of ‘Obama 08 Phone App’: the obvious question as to why friends would want to sort their contacts into anything other than alphabetical lists is lost in the originality of the application.  The software plugs into the millions of American iPhone lovers and Obama supporters in the hope that the passion for the former might be mirrored in support for latter on November 4.

Obama’s use of digital tools provides interesting insight into political campaigning in the 21st Century. His website has links to no less than 16 social networking tools, as well as the now almost standard TV channel. Whilst not all of the platforms are likely to appeal to the European voter (indeed British iPhone lovers are unlikely to fall for a ‘Brown 08 Phone App’), the US election does offer innovative ideas for politicians on this side of the Atlantic.

Hatty

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October 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm 1 comment

Why is their politics cooler than ours?

Barack Obama definitely has the wind in his sails as he heads towards a possible (probable?) Democratic nomination. And an increasingly cool wind it is too. The latest foray of pop into politics sees hip-hop grandee, Wiil.i.am, front man for the Black Eyed Peas and producer of the Pussycat Dolls, lend his voice in support of Obama in the way he knows best; a pop video. The combination of Obama’s spoken words and singing raises the hairs on the back of the neck, recalling the great black-and-white orators of yesteryear, King and Kennedy, and bringing Obama a mantle of cool to which European politicians can only aspire. 13 million people have already seen this video, with one million a day logging on. What MEP would not give his or her eye teeth for that level of exposure?

For cool, also read sexy. Obama-Girl’s song “I have a crush on Obama” also gained six million hits or so on YouTube. Perhaps we will see “I have a crush on Barroso” by Barroso-Girl sometime soon, but somehow I doubt it.

As we head towards the dog-end of the second Bush administration, and as the US election battle becomes the greatest show on earth, there is no doubt that their politics is much cooler than ours. Annoying, but true.

February 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm 1 comment


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A blog on politics, policy, public affairs and communications in Brussels and the European Union. The blog is written by the team at Fleishman-Hillard in Brussels. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect those of the company or its clients. You will find the contact details of our team at www.fleishman-hillard.eu

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