This is the 21st in a series of opinion columns on the 2022 Ontario provincial election, written by Josh Lieblein for The CJN.
I was expecting a lot more anger this morning.
I had a fully written column in my drafts tab, all ready to go but for clicking “send,” where I outlined a step-by-step plan for supporters of losing campaigns to climb out of the abyss and back to a place where they would be better prepared for the next go-round.
I intended it to be a way of empathizing with voters with whom I disagree with politically, who might benefit or learn from the experience I’ve acquired after many, many losing efforts.
But as per usual for Ontario, the province where “bland works,” the other parties and their supporters are sticking with the same self-satisfied tone they took all throughout this (winnable! at least for them) campaign. For them, their losses had nothing to do with any lack of effort on their part, or with their own timidity in campaigning, or with their failure to understand just how much the millions of Ontarians who didn’t show up are done with politics as usual.
And for weeks, as the polls stayed stagnant, as strategists mumbled their way through interviews trying and failing to come up with some witty line… and as every policy gimmick, every pre-planned stunt, every cringey tagline like “buck-a-ride” fell flat, not a single voice was raised to question the direction of things.
Are we out of touch? No, it’s the voters who are wrong.
To win an election, you need to believe the absolute rightness of your cause and the absolute wrongness of the other causes, and live that belief—along with every other member of your team—more, deeper and harder than the others.
Whoever loses an election does so because they, collectively, believe less. The narrative of the campaign has to become the truth. And if it doesn’t sound like the truth, or if the people spinning the narrative don’t believe it, a loss is inevitable.
I like to think that this sort of against-all-odds belief is what has sustained the Jewish people throughout the centuries, and that this is how we persist despite endless looming disasters.
The tweet above is a perfect example of such a losing narrative. If even a word of this was true, then Doug Ford would never have made it to the election. But voters weren’t roused to anger by this recitation of Doug Ford’s sins because they understand that the people doing the reciting are not capable of running Doug Ford out on a rail.
They adopt progressive language, they call for change, but when the chips are down—well, the actual work of campaigning is left up to someone else. There’s always a reason why they can’t do more than tweet, post, comment, like and subscribe.
How can Jews get on social media and invoke the blessed memory of their grandparents who put it all on the line for Jewish survival and then settle for the half-baked, half-hearted, listless and feckless offerings of the anti-Ford crowd? It is a contradiction that moves many to comment, which is then duly dismissed as “bullying” and “trolling.”
Well, this critique of mine is not “bullying”. It’s meant to pop the filter bubble that led directly to an increased Doug Ford majority. Coming back to reality and facing this truth is the thing that keeps you from going down the path that leads to conspiracy theories, to QAnons, to January 6 insurrections.
But if the Ford-haters want to become the thing they say they hate most, I suggest they just keep right on dismissing accounts like mine.
Josh Lieblein can be reached at [email protected] for your response to Doorstep Postings.