Monday, September 26, 2011

The Boy Who Cried Crisis!

Hyperbole is nothing new in politics. It is used often, and sometimes it seems with great relish, by politicians and stakeholders alike to frame an issue, mobilize voters and ultimately win the day. Used properly it can have tremendous impact.

However, used improperly it can have the opposite effect. Its impact can be limited as the message simply becomes part of the noise. In these cases it is either ignored, or worse, never heard.

Unfortunately, we can see elements of this effect today. Take, for example, the use of the word crisis. At any one time in this campaign we are being told about an economic crisis, a jobs crisis, a looming demographic crisis, a health care crisis, an environmental crisis.

Taken together, it is amazing any of us get out of bed in the morning. Of course that assumes anyone is really listening.

Those who use hyperbole successfully are those who use it selectively and with the right audience. They are measured and targeted. Most importantly, the hyperbole complements their message; it does not become their message. They are heard.

In many instances it boils down to the fact that the more successful have recognized that if everything is a crisis, nothing is a crisis. Put another way, they are successful because they are credible, and they are credible because their are selective.

There is a fine line between trying to raise awareness of an issue and fear-mongering; between being watchdog and being chicken little. Today we see that line being crossed with greater frequency as politicians and stakeholders look to win the hearts, minds and votes of select swing voters in key ridings, cities and provinces.

So as election day draws closer in Ontario, P.E.I, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, challenge yourself to see through the hyperbole. There are challenges out there, no doubt. And there are crisis - either current or looming.

At this point in the campaigns underway, we have a good sense as to where everyone stands and how they are framing things. Now it is our turn. As voters we need to inform ourselves on the issues that are presented. Seek a second opinion. Ask family, friends or co-workers. Don't just stand there looking up, waiting for the next acorn to fall.

Engaged voters look beyond the advertisements and the spin. They ask their own questions and come to their own answers. And they put themselves in the position of being able to spot the difference between a credible choice and the "boy who cried crisis."

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your post. Unfortunately there isn't that many informed voters, just a small percentage. But, how great it would be if voters would engage more for everyones benefit? It will be a win/win situation!


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