Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Tipping Point

This weekend, I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell, called The Tipping Point. It is a best seller and discusses the phenomenon of social epidemics, such as fashion trends, disease, or behavioural patterns such as crime. The gist is that sudden and sweeping change (an epidemic) may be brought about by the confluence of seemingly small factors, the right people, and the right context.

The mention of crime naturally conjured up the words Gomery, Adscam and Liberal. Social epidemics, as expressed in political terms, have happened at regular intervals in Canada's history. In Alberta, it was the sweeping in of the Socreds in the thirties and the sweeping out of the Socreds in the early seventies. More recently on the national front, it was the sweeping out of the Liberals in 1984 and the sweeping out of the Progressive Conservatives in 1993.

The three rules of the Tipping Point are the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context. If we apply those rules to current Canadian politics, it's easy to conclude that Paul Martin and the Liberals are at their Tipping Point.

The Law of the Few suggests that social epidemics are heavily dependent on people with a particular and rare set of social gifts. In Canada at the moment, we can imagine that "gift" might also mean "curse". Paul Martin's curse is that of being one who has been hanging around in much too close proximity to corruption and possibly criminal activity for much too long to plead ignorance and innocence with any plausibility.

The Stickiness Factor refers to messaging, whether intentional or incidental. When something is repeated often enough, or is catchy enough, it sticks. Even non-smokers would be able to complete the sentence "Winston tastes good, .........................". Okay, maybe non-smokers as old as I am. The incidental message that Canadians have been receiving for over a year, and particularly loud and clear in the past few weeks, is that Liberals and their government are corrupt and possibly criminal. It matters not whether it's this group of Liberals or that group of Liberals, or whether it's all Liberals or just some Liberals
-- it's Liberals.

The Power of Context says that human beings are a lot more sensitive to their environment than they may seem. Canadian voters tend to have a high threshold of pain and short memories. The key to getting people to change their behaviour is the feeling of distress that can develop in the proper context. That context today is that we simply can't accept the demonstrated conduct and attitude of far too many Liberals and their successive governments.

Mr. Martin, you are at The Tipping Point. Begging is unseemly for the leader of a country like Canada, and I was embarrassed for you last week. It's time that Canadian voters gave you the final push off the cliff of political oblivion and put you all out of our misery.

5 Comments:

Blogger Hatrock said...

Sadly, Canadians DO have a short memory. The Liberals have known this for years and it's why they've been able to stay in power and get away with everything.

Conservatives, particularly Stephen Harper, need to remind Canadians the "legacy of corruption" of this Liberal gov't. Still at 30% in the polls, this message has not stuck yet to the Liberals. With constant Gomery testimony, hopefully it finally will. And hopefully, NDP voters will finally do the right thing and vote for their own party. Hopefully, Quebeckers wanting to get rid of the Liberals don't vote Bloc.

2:49 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I think that Harper and Co. have to start creating more imagery. $100 million is a figure that most people can't put their minds around. Therefore, it remains in the abstract, as do the details of contractual wrongdoing, etc.

Paper bags with money, though, that creates a "picture" in the minds eye. To counter the Liberal created and media abetted spin about the "need to wait for Gomery", Conservatives have to create an atmosphere of urgency they currently haven''t successfully sold. They can't do it with nebulous words like "corruption". They need to be specific, and use imagery that sticks.

The words "paper shredders" should be introduced. People can visualize this, they can understand the implications of paper shredding without further explanation. And with the testimony now released, it is immune from accusations of hyperbole. The loss of documentation vital to answering questions in the gun registry, etc.' is a very real danger.

ie: "Canada cannot afford to leave this Liberal government alone with the paper shredders."

Urgency. They need to counter the spin with urgency.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Coder said...

I'm not sure people DO understand the concept of paper shredding. We need to actually add words, like "destroying evidence" and "covering up".

9:23 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

The tipping point works both ways; its concepts can be used by Conservatives to use the new media as a tool for bringing about some real changes.

The few: bloggers.

Skickiness factor: Libranos posters

Context: Blogs = democratic media that is not subsidized by the Federal government.

10:16 PM  
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4:12 PM  

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