Wedge Politics Works – At What Cost?

I watched Evan Soloman and his pundits panel discussing Frank Graves’ comment that Liberals should wage a culture war, pitching urban against rural, cosmopolitan against parochial.  The panel discussed the whole idea of wedge politics and negative politics and whether these work.  The broad conclusion – yes indeed they work and every party does it.  No doubt.

But no one asked whether there’s a better way nor did they ask about the costs of this kind of politics.  Every year, every election sees fewer Canadians participating in politics, voting or, for that matter, caring about politics.  The oversimplifying, black and white, good guys and bad guys of wedge politics misleads and diminishes and makes politics seem like a web of lies and spin. Attack ads work – and make all politics seem shoddy.

So here’s the question:  Could somebody win an election in Canada with a “new” politics that eschewed attack ads and simplifying rhetoric, talked straight, challenged conventional wisdom,admitted that they didn’t have all the answers, and yet tried to inspire us to higher aspirations and to taking responsibility individually and collectively for our future?  Or would they be destroyed by an avalanche of attack from the other parties and the media as hopelessly naïve and not ready for the big time?  How do we break the cycle?

UPDATE: Jordan Comments

“If it’s true that either you win with divisive politics, or you elevate the discourse and lose, then there’s a powerful, morally compelling reason to choose the wedge. But, if that’s not true – and I’m not convinced it is – then losing is a risk our leaders must run if our politics is ever to improve. “

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