On the 2023 Alberta elections

A long time ago people said that if Steve Jobs was filmed walking across San Francisco bay, the systems industry media headlines would all scream "Jobs can't swim!", and that's really what's going on with major media coverage of Danielle Smith and the UCP too: the people involved generally know almost nothing about economics or governance but continually tell each other they're experts and that, combined with the left's assumed moral superiority and the federal government's massive subsidies to approved media organizations, is what powers their current campaign against Smith and anyone else who dares think different.

In reality, however, the Mac was the better product, Trump was the better president, and Danielle Smith is the right premier for Alberta.

To prove the latter the UCP must first win a full term and that probably requires them to nearly sweep Calgary while remaining true to their largely rural and smaller community origins and supporters.

To do that the UCP has to do more than run the traditional personality based contest because that strategy assumes the voter's information environment to be be little worse than that created by the traditional media reluctance to air conservative viewpoints. In today's reality, however, the media have all but formally abdicated their responsibilities to the voter to silently assume, instead, the virtue of all things left and thus focus entirely on explaining the moral and intellectual limitations of conservatives to voters. As a result the NDP's main strategy in 2023 will be to say almost nothing about their own policies, wax loudly indignant about the stupidity and corruption of conservatives, and present Rachel Notley as a cross between Jesus, Peter Lougheed, and Mother Teresa.

The primary UCP strategy should therefore focus on getting the voter to understand the reality and consequences of past and present NDP policy and so force them to openly admit to, and then campaign on, those policies. One way to do this might be thought of as political jujitsu - turning weaknesses into strengths.

Three tactical examples:

  1. Use media hate to broadcast UCP messaging

    Go heavy on quick response and reasoned debate in appearances and alternate media while encouraging the traditional media to attack Danielle Smith personally, and the UCP generally, for saying things that are obvious to everybody outside the progressive echo chamber but anathema within it.

    Bottom line: they can't attack the UCP for saying things like, "masks don't work"; "the homeless crisis is a drugs crisis"; "there are only two sexes"; "there is no climate crisis"; "Oil and Gas powers the world"; or "wind and solar power your bills, not your home", without also reporting what is being said.


  2. Defang the NDP on healthcare

    It is obvious that the NDP/media complex plans to campaign on "defending our healthcare system against the corrupt capitalist NAZIs in the UCP" but the issue can be taken largely off the table by creating a commission to investigate health care options for Alberta and committing to a referendum early in the next term on any significant changes the commission may recommend.

    The key to success here is to set up the panel to produce both a majority report demanding more money and control to continue the status quo and a minority report recommending radical change along the lines of having government pay the bills while the patient decides who earns it.

    To achieve this, have one of the usual credentialed experts chair the commission but put both a UCP MLA and someone nominated by the NDP in as co-chairs, have the bargaining units for the physicians, nurses, and EMTs nominate one representative each, balance those three with three formerly prominent figures known for advocating free market solutions, and set a significant total budget while also giving each member discretionary control of a relatively small research fund.

    The rationale for this comes in three parts:

    • the proposed structure should be difficult for the NDP and their backers to refuse because it plausibly gives them majority control while the three troublemakers all have histories that the left will see as easily exploited against any minority report they may produce;


    • however, the combination of an NDP majority commission now and a referendum later takes away the media/NDP opportunity to attack the UCP on healthcare without having to commit to any policies of their own - effectively reducing the media/NDP to ad hominem attacks on the UCP while both defending the status quo and demanding more money for it;


    • a 2025 referendum fought between proponents of status quo continuation and the freer market options the minority report produces will take healthcare out of the political equation for the 2027 election - aligning UCP policy with the provincial majority while reducing the NDP/media complex to attacking the implementation process for whatever was approved in the referendum.


  3. one of the weaknesses the NDP has identified with respect to Danielle Smith derives from her role at the Calgary Public School Board where her willingness to count the teeth on sacred cows permanently antagonized both the board's administration and the ATA. Rather than let this fester quietly in the background the UCP can simply accept the reality that senior players at the ATA, the school boards, and Alberta Education will all act to support the NDP no matter what the UCP does - and then drive a wedge between this club and actual school staff by making primary and secondary education reform a major electoral focus for 2023.

    It will be difficult to expand on existing UCP member driven policy ideas to develop and field test key electoral messaging on primary and secondary education in Alberta before the election - but one way of getting it done would rely on constituency boards across the province. Specifically, each board could be asked to choose some parents with kids in schools from among its members and task them with organizing both public and private meetings between front line staff and the local MLA or nominee accompanied by either a cabinet member or the premier.

    Although non teaching staff usually vastly outnumber classroom staff almost all of these meetings should be either unstructured between politicians and the parents involved or structured and between politicians and teaching staff including EAs with, in every case, a focus on a pre-defined list of specific debatable questions like "under what circumstances does the social pass do more harm than good?", "should schools provide free lunches to all students and staff?", "who gets the money we spend now?", "what should PD days look like?", "How can remote learning be reconciled with the two income family?"; "how can government help private and home schooling?", and "should we formally institute the A,B, D, and shop class form of streaming?".

    Listen, during these sessions, most closely to what teachers and non-certified classroom staff say in private - work out the resulting messaging in caucus, and then test it using both rural and urban focus groups made up of parents with kids in schools.

    The rationale for this is that I expect the meetings to show that those parents and teachers who care about the school system often mouth but do not generally share the views required of them by school board administrations, the media/NDP, and Alberta Education. If so, giving them an opportunity to discuss their concerns both privately and directly with their MLAs and senior members of government could lead to better policy and highly effective electoral messaging aimed directly at a core NDP constituency - but whether that's right or not the meetings will challenge automatic teacher support for the NDP; not antagonize anyone who might otherwise vote UCP; and strengthen the constituency board member skills, confidence, and connections needed for the local MLA or nominee to win election.




On the future of Education (2020)   - https://winface.com/node/17

and, from 2015, on using Education to reduce the size of government:  https://winface.com/oldwin/smith/smith4.html


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