Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Long Live the Independent Candidate!

Frequent Readers of this blog are aware of my general distaste for the triumph of party politics over the common good. That being said, I recently had the honour of speaking with the Independent candidate for Calgary West, Mr. Kirk Schmidt.

Some people are going to love what Kirk stands for. Some people are not going to like his policies. That's politics. I'd encourage everyone to go and take a look, though: His website is here.

The Independent candidate has several disadvantages right out of the gate. Firstly, fundraising is MUCH more difficult. No funds means no signs. No commercials. No newspaper ads. Et cetera. The second big disadvantage can be countered, SOMEWHAT, by Blogs like this one: Indie candidates don't get the press attention that the mainstream candidates do. They also, as a general rule, don't make it into debates - those spots are saved for candidates from the "Big 3" parties. Now, the blogosphere and other alternative media can counter this effect somewhat, but the reality is that in order to win in a riding like Calgary West, a candidate would need to get in the ballpark of 30,000 votes or more. I have serious doubts that this blog has even had that many hits since its inception in December - so, although blogs can cast light on a candidate, he or she needs to get their name and policy in the consciousness of the general public to have a shot at the polling booth, and blogs by themselves can't do it.

For this reason, a well thought-out media strategy is crucial. I'm not privy to the Schmidt Inner Circle, and as such don't know what Kirk's strategy will be in getting (free) media time, but I DO know that if he can get himself in the public eye, Kirk's vision for what a Member of Parliament SHOULD be will appeal to a lot of voters, whether or not they're inclined to support his policies.

If more people showed the courage that Kirk Schmidt has, in putting his name into the ring and taking his chances against some well-oiled political machines, I think our electoral system would be in much better shape.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. This is one riding where he could win, if he is not a total wierdo. Many do not like Anders, but vote for him anyway because they would rather pull out their fingernails than vote Liberal or NDP.

I think you could get conservative-minded people unhappy with the Anders nomination process voting for "the kid".

I am curious. Whose provincial PC campaign did he work on?

Kirk Schmidt said...

First off: ES, thank you very much for the blog publicity.

Second, to anon:
I worked, actually, on a provincial grit campaign (a friend of mine, Gerry Hart, ran as the grit in Calgary-Fort). Nothing like the challenge of an underdog...

Bill Given said...

Great post, good on ya for promoting the independents!

It's a tought road to travel for sure but there are a significant number of people (of all political stripes) that would like another alternative to the parties.

Money is an issue but Kirk may be able to find quite a few friends in the Cons who are upset with the party, upset with the process and upset with Anders.

One thing to be wary of, if it looks like Kirk is making some headway, you'll see the rumour mill kick in about him being a gasp "Liberal who is trying to hide it."

But, there is truly merit in the concept of a elected official who has no one to answer to but the public and the people who voted for them. People get it. You have to explain it a lot but they get it...

... the only thing is can you explain it to enough people in the time available?

Go Kirk!

kenchapman said...

Another amazing post ES.

I am going to link Kirk's campaign site to my blog and while I can't vote for him because I live in Edmonton, I can still support him in his efforts.

ES go to the Canada 2020 link on my blog too and down load the new book just published on Progressive Governance. It is worth the read.