“No one wants less power; everyone wants more.”—Robert Greene
Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose party, put her leadership on the line after failing to capture any seats in the four Alberta by-elections. Her leadership review was to take place in mid-November, well ahead of the leadership review scheduled to occur after the 2016 election.
Ms Smith’s decision appeared, at first blush, to be a risky gambit. However when analysed in the context of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power, it was an act of political survival.
The Laws of Power
Greene’s best seller, The 48 Laws of Power, analyses the actions of powerful people (strategists, statesmen, courtiers, seducers and con artists) over the last 3000 years and distills them into 48 immutable laws.
The premise of the laws is this: certain actions increase one’s power; other actions decrease it and those who bungle it completely are ruined or dead.
Danielle applies the laws of power
Three laws of power are relevant to Danielle Smith’s decision to seek leadership review on the heels of her party’s failure to win any seats in the recent by-elections. These are:
Law 29: Enter action with boldness. Danielle turned the rout of her party into an opportunity to solidify her mandate as leader. Some considered this unnecessary in light of her 90% leadership approval rating in 2013, but the only way for Danielle to crush speculation about her ability to lead was to put it to the test.
Law 31: Control the options. Get others to play the cards you deal. Political strategists, party insiders and the media relished the thought of spending the next few weeks debating a single question: is Danielle capable of leading the Wildrose to victory in the next election? Danielle changed the conversation…and pundits and politicos who expected to play a game of 5 card stud found themselves at the blackjack table…with Danielle as the dealer.
Law 35: Master the art of timing. David Taras, a Calgary political scientist, described Danielle’s decision to seek a leadership review as a pre-emptive strike, noting that by getting “ahead of the curve” she demonstrated good political instincts. If nothing else, she certainly caught her detractors off guard.
The Wildrose party explores the laws of power
Anyone hoping to unseat Danielle Smith in a leadership review would immediately recognize the need to tread carefully—failure to obey the laws of power jeopardises the political careers of those who’d like to become leader one day and, more importantly, threatens the existence of the Wildrose party itself.
Law 10: Infection. Avoid the unhappy and unlucky. A leadership review would embolden the unhappy hordes harbouring past grievances. Danielle’s decision to side pocket the party’s evangelical social policies is one example. In the game of power miserable people make tactical errors that could seriously damage the party.
Law 27: Play on people’s need to believe. Wildrose party members need to believe that their defeat in the by-elections was simply the result of poor campaign strategy and inept execution. They need to be convinced that their policies continue to resonate with Albertans and that with a lot of hard work the Wildrose will form government in 2016.
A leadership review would shatter this belief by exacerbating the friction between the ideologues and pragmatists and driving members further apart instead of bringing them together to work towards success in 2016.
The laws of power are immutable
Robert Greene says the 48 laws of power are timeless and definitive. They dictate that no one will unseat Danielle Smith. In fact they won’t even try.
On Nov 2, 2014 Robert Greene was proven right.
Rob Anderson, the Wildrose Opposition House Leader, put forward a resolution to withdraw Danielle Smith’s request for a leadership review. The Wildrose caucus voted on the resolution and were united in its support of Danielle Smith as leader.
Nicely played Danielle, nicely played.