Canadian history and politics #6: Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them by Susan Delacourt – 2013

Shopping for Votes traces the history that led to the current state of “political marketing”. “Floating”, uninformed and shallow voters without party loyalty are the election clinching prize for campaign strategists who endlessly segment the public at large.

It seems clear the 80’s and 90’s were the key decades in this process. Greater cynicism about politics and politicians, reduced belief in the efficacy of the public sector and a paradigm shift in marketing and branding combined with a right-turn in popular ideology to create a new atmosphere of futility.

In the 2000’s (says Delacourt) the logic of political marketing reached an unprecedented low: a brave new world where the Harper Conservatives began targeting just 100,000 people across the entire country during federal elections, shunning national polling.

This book combines pop-theory wokeness (Gramsci, Baudrillard and even Adam Curtis are cited) and well meaning small-d democratic idealism into a critique of the trends in question. The author seems to desire a categorical change in party politics, neglecting matters of degree and the brutal reality of quotidian incentives and pressures.

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