Sadly, it's come to this. In anticipation of the next federal election, the Conservatives launched an ad campaign last September with the less-than-inspiring slogan, "We're better off with Harper."
No expression of grand ideas for Canada. No glorious visions for our national future. Instead, the Tories simply decried "the dangerous ideas and empty words" from the NDP and the Liberals with the implication that voting Conservative is the least worst option.
If the political advertising bar is going to be set that low for 2015, I have a few suggestions for the contestants in the upcoming campaign.
As for the Conservatives, how about the slogan "At least we're not that bad." It plays to the electorate's fear of change and their grudging commitment to the status quo. The average voter may not be happy with the Tories but when he contemplates the possibility of a whole new government, he's not likely going to rustle up enough energy to overcome his democratic inertia.
Then again, Mr. Harper's party may want to try out the catchphrase "Do you really want to take a chance?" You might be annoyed with the current government's performance but can you really risk some other party making even a bigger mess?
As for the Liberals, there's always the old warhorse "It's time for a change." This slogan has had a long, successful history but it may be a little too positive for this election.
Probably better for the Grits to try on something like "Hey, what have you got to lose?" That appeals to the voters' tepid response to the Conservatives and demonstrates a "what the hell" attitude that might just inspire folks to turf out the incumbents.
Or maybe they should adopt a personality theme. Side by side photos of Harper and Trudeau with the tagline "Who would you rather have a beer with?" I suspect there's a lot of mileage to be gained from that one.
In this race to the bottom, what's available on the advertising front for the NDP? After all, they're currently the official opposition although it's not likely many voters are even aware of that fact.
So first up on their ad campaign slogan list should be "We're number two and it's time to be number one." Then again, there's always the risk that once voters know the Dippers are that close to power, they're going to recoil in horror and throw their votes anywhere else.
In the less-than-inspirational campaign on the horizon, maybe it's better that Mr. Mulcair and friends keep a low profile and simply say "Vote Mulcair -- he's neither Harper nor Trudeau." There's gotta be a big constituency for that middle ground.
Whatever they do, the New Democrats should probably avoid extolling their own policies (whatever they may be) and simply concentrate on the enemy. Nothing fancy, mind you; just a catchy phrase like "Remember, we're not the guys who appointed Mike Duffy."
As for the Green Party, since they haven't got a torch's chance in Tuktoyaktuk, they're free to run a principled campaign based on actual policies. They might even want to consider adopting the NDP's old slogan: "We'd rather be right than elected."
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