Albertans pay little attention to politics at the best of times. Even during elections, the public shows little interest until about two weeks before the vote.
Well, here we are, about two weeks before the vote. Let the real campaign begin.
For the crafty, well-financed and nasty Wildrose party, the next two weeks is where their policies and candidates will come under intense scrutiny. Even a casual perusal of Wildrose economic policies reveals it is based on pull-it-out-of-your-ass promises about no deficits, billions going into the Heritage Fund, no tax increases, billions given away in Danielle Dollars, and no cuts to health care or education. How can you do all of that, and still save money? Something’s got to give; either the Wildrose knows that, and won’t say what they’ll cut, or the Wildrose actually believes they can give away billions, save billions, and spend billions at the same time. No one in history has manged that feat.
As the Wildrose rise in the polls, the pushback is beginning. For your consideration, here are a few examples of bloggers and reporters asking tough questions about the Wildrose.
First, Dave Cournoyer’s blog helpfully outlines a number of Wildrose candidates who are so far right, they probably think Rick Santorum is soft on socialists. Also this past week, Graham Thompson of the Journal weighed in on some of the Wildrose policies on “conscience rights” and other minefield issues. But the best opinion piece of the last week goes to Robert Remington of the Calgary Herald, who skillfully outlines everything that is scary and wrong about the Wildrose.
This is just the start. As the campaign enters its end game, the scrutiny the Wildrose will face will be intense. We’ve already seen the Wildrose defence strategy; Smith has already referred to the Conservatives as a “liberal” party, and they have issued press releases denouncing columnists they won’t like. They’ve got money, they’ve got organization, and they’ve got power within their grasp. I’m convinced the Wildrose will do anything to win, and as the attacks on the party become more pronounced, the pushback from the party will escalate. Taking a page from Stephen Harper, the last two weeks of the campaign will feature a lot of “us versus them” rhetoric, with the “elite media” coming under attack.
This may sound preposterous, and I may live to regret it, but I think you’ll see a decline in Wildrose support as the last two weeks unfold. Now that the public is sitting up and paying attention, people who casually told pollsters that they were supporting the Wildrose will start to have second thoughts. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the undecided numbers rise as tricky issues begin to trip up the party, and Smith’s past words come back to haunt her.