Positioning – or lying to win votes. Are we falling for it?

It is (municipal) election time in my part of the world and the campaigns (including the mud•slinging ones) are out in force. To play the straight guy is to risk losing these days. So go out and smear your opponents with the smelliest shit is the mantra it seems. And while you are at it, make sure that all those skeletons in your own closet are firmly locked away behind an unbreakable door and that the key had been buried deeper than even those brave miners in Chile.

This is also a time for slanting the truth, or “positioning” as they call it in marketing parlance. If you look at some of the larger issues that have been positioned recently it makes my skin crawl.

My favourite is the one on US vs. Canadian Medicare. My US colleagues, so bombarded by ultra•right fear•mongering, surreptitiously ask me if indeed our Medicare is “death ordained by the government”? When I laugh and ask them in turn whether their (sick peoples’) deaths are not determined by profit•seeking insurance companies instead of a deficit•happy government, they scratch their heads and say, “Oh, didn’t think of it like that!”

And the Long Form Census is another one. “We will not know who is living in this country anymore,” says one group, “Facebook has more info on us than the LFC,” says another, “It’s a violation of our human rights” says yet another, even though the Charter of Rights came into being in 1982 and the LFC has operated under its aegis all this time.

How about that other “long” one • the Long Gun Registry? The Tories, wanting to get rid of this burden on their tax revenues, insist that the registry is a duplication of information already held by the police. The police deny this and say that they need the LGR to keep tabs on the bad guys. Then a former top cop of Toronto himself, wanting to grab a seat on the Tory bench, decides to relegate his former colleagues the lair of liars and goes public stating that the LGR is a waste of money. At this point in the debate, my neck is developing a crick like an umpire’s at a tennis game watching a rapidly rallying ball across the net.

All this “bog” only serves to remind me that writers must be failed politicians, those who jumped off the political bandwagon in order to “lie to tell a higher truth” through their fiction, while leaving their erstwhile colleagues to “lie to win more votes” through their positioning.

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