Junior high, high school and
even university are places where self-expression and acceptance
are highly valued. Attempts to assimilate into the crowd
and be accepted by a certain group can be seen everywhere.
A quick look around would reveal attempts by young people
to define themselves and gain acceptance and approval through
their physical appearance. Due to the beginning of the school
year, autumn is the true season of change. And it is only
fitting that as teenagers remake their appearances once
again, provincial politicians do the same.
What a paralleled world we live in.
In fact the whole idea of an election has an adolescent
theme running right through it. This is not to say that
the policies being presented to the people of Newfoundland
and Labrador are immature or undeveloped, rather all I am
suggesting is that the idea of an election is all about
acceptance and moving forward with change.
The party inspired ties, massive DRL buses and smiling leaflets
listing candidates children’s names and favourite
extracurricular activities remind me all to well of the
attempts to boost ones own popularity. In fact the attempts
to win over our province are similar to the idea of getting
your license first to impress your friends, only now it
is about devising the most popular policy booklet. Looking
at the actions of politicians and political parties can
reveal a lot about the younger generations.
The idea of an election as a chance to reinvent a party
or candidate’s image is nothing new. In fact this
is the popular card to be played by many players during
election time. Consider the Progressive Conservative slogan
of “Real Leadership: A New Approach.” It suggests
a flaw in the past leadership and an ability to make strength
with what was once weakness. The play on charisma and personal
success is not only used in the public realm but also privately
in schoolyards everywhere. People use their own strengths
to contrast the weaknesses of others, although doing so
blatantly will get you cited as a person who puts others
down to improve your own self image.
In similar regards the teenagers who wronged in the past
– perhaps got a failing grade in the past year –
use the summer to remake themselves, to wipe the slate clean.
They want to focus on the future and encourage us to “take
a closer look” to see that in fact their past actions
are forgivable and that their future plans make up for their
mis-doings. The Liberal party is using this notion to try
and win back the government they could potentially lose.
New Democrats on the other hand suggest that it is time
for “real change.” After all if you want something
different from the right or the center the natural place
to look is the left. This is the tactic used by kids who
don’t try to create head on competition, so they push
the individuality envelope. They may be different, but you
want different. Or so they want you to believe.
Each of these slogans is effective, in that they minimize
the weaknesses of each party and attempt to play up the
more favourable aspects. Despite the fact that they are
all playing a slightly different angle they are each using
their public relations to try and paint the most effective
These parties are not immature or adolescent. In fact their
marketing campaigns are often very complex. It is simply
interesting to look at how the parties’ actions are
similar to the tactics used by young adults in the ‘rat
race’ of adolescence. The intense pressure of high
school and the pressure to succeed in what is becoming a
more competitive job market lead many people to become very
competitive when necessary. The climate of an election does
This comparison explains more about human nature than it
does about the individual character of young adults or politicians.
People simply resort to extreme tactics when faced with
stressful situations. Everyone wants to be accepted and
the best way to be accepted is to appeal to the masses.
The problem is each party sees the masses a little differently.
Politicians were once adolescents and some of the candidates
are not that much older than I am. This allows me to feel
confident in my notion that competition leads people to
seek positive public relations whether it’s in the
government or in the cafeteria.