Today, I launched a new political mini-site at IggyFacts.ca.
The site is meant to be a humourous take on the definition campaign of the Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff.
The site is meant to be integrated with, but does not require, Twitter. Random facts about Michael Ignatieff are presented and with a single click of a button, they can be “re-tweeted” (repeated) via a person’s twitter account. You can even submit your own facts.
For those that aren’t familiar with Twitter, the service is like building your own mailing list. People sign up to receive information from you at your discretion. For example, at the time of this writing, I have 3,846 people “following” me on Twitter. This means that several times a day, almost 4,000 people read my updates on a variety of topics from politics, what I’m thinking or even doing (or whatever else I’d like to write). The political implications of this are large because each one of these people have their own “following” (or list) and this presents the opportunity to spread a message. Some people that follow me are web designers, some are Democrats, some Republican, some Conservative, some Liberal, some Calgarian, some Australian, among others. A police officer that follows me on Twitter may find a message that I write interesting enough to re-tweet (or repeat) it along to his list of his police officer friends, his Vancouver motocycle club twitterers and even his fellow jetskiers on Twitter. In turn they may pass the message along too. This bridges groups and it can find a message going out beyond one particular community. Blogs are often read by die-hard partisans and not often by swing voters. Since Twitter allows you to read beyond the highly integrated political blog community, it is a powerful tool for politics.
This fellow was just off of Parliament Hill today showing passers-by a portable video playing the video clip of Michael Ignatieff saying “You have to decide what kind of America you want. Right? You have to decide. It’s your country [the US] just as much as it is mine.” The clip can be seen in the Conservative Party’s “definition” ads on the Leader of the Opposition.
Aparently, the man dressed as Uncle Sam was protesting Michael Ignatieff’s attempts to goad C-SPAN into ordering a cease-and-decist against the Conservatives for using video from their network.
“He wanted to know if we were aware if our video was being used in this way,” Collins said. “If our rights were being violated, he wanted us to enforce them.”
Collins goes on to say,
“There’s nothing legal to do with it, Collins said. “Given the way video is used throughout the world, with YouTube, it would be fruitless.”
Collins says he watched the ad and believes it falls within the fair-use provisions in copyright law because of the short length and subject matter.
“It’s the highest form of speech — political speech,” he said, adding there would be no economic loss to C-SPAN resulting from the ad.
One might have thought that Michael Ignatieff would have read the first amendment to the US Constitution protecting speech during the decades he was abroad. For someone who claims ownership of the United States as Ignatieff does, he should believe in political free speech, even if such rights are generally not afforded Canadians when it comes to using CBC and CPAC footage.
…the Conservatives would never run negative ads. Heck, we’d just surrender to a few more decades of Liberal rule.
On Macleans Capital Read blog, journalist Aaron Wherry breathlessly tells us what our betters think of the latest round of Conservative ads. Wherry headlines the article “Schoolyard tripe! Poisonous! Demeaning! Anti-American!” and proceeds to list criticism from non-partisan voices such as Jim Travers, Angelo Persichilli, the Edmonton Journal, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star! Who are these voices of reason? Reading them makes it so clear that to armchair political analysts, the Conservatives have made a disastrous misstep in running negative advertising, because nobody likes negative ads, and of course, such ads don’t work.
Thousands of dollars worth of focus groups studying the reactions of average, everyday Canadians would seem to indicate otherwise. The decisions that go into these sorts of adverts are not made on a whim. Political calculations are much more involved than started from one’s prejudices against conservatism and then spewing under-informed analysis in 750 paid words or less. There is a method to the Machiavellian madness. From the gender of the narrating voice, to its tone, to the imagery of the ads and the theme, it would seem that the Conservatives have concluded through some expensive research that Canadians seem to have a problem with Michael Ignatieff’s seeming self-serving interest in returning to Canada. “The ads will backfire”, “Canadians are turned off by negative ads”, “This isn’t the United States (oops)” are the sounds coming from the Parliamentary Press Gallery and other members of the media elite in this country. They claim to tell us what we think when it’s clear that they’re out of touch with the effect that those ads will have on us as Canadians.
The other elites — those that reside in the Liberal Party — tell us who should raise our kids, what kind of cars we should drive and whose feelings we should not offend, are of course the producers of these ads:
This may only be the first government that Mr. Wherry’s has covered, but some perspective please. The difference between these two ads and the latest round of Conservative advertising? The Grit ads were baldfaced lies; how’s your healthcare, your “scrapped Kyoto accord”, your right to choose and who was it that was prepared to work with the Bloc Quebecois? Where are the soldiers with guns in our streets?. In contrast, the Conservative ads are true. Michael Ignatieff was out of the country for 34 years, has mused that taxes will go up and the video wherein he says “you have to decide what kind of America you want, right? You have to decide. It’s your country just as much as it is mine” is undoctored. These are Michael Ignatieff’s own words. In fact, they’re so true that the only line of defense is to attack the process.
Funny that the Liberals are silent on this and it is the media who comes to their defense.