The only thing worse than a political strategist spouting theories on how to beat the competition is a blogger discussing a political strategist’s theories on how to beat the competition. But Ms Soapbox is going to do it anyway because the events of the last few weeks made her cranky and she needs a good laugh.
Last week I attended a webinar hosted by the Manning School of Practical Politics, an offshoot of the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education, founded by Preston Manning, the father of the Reform Party and the man responsible for saddling us with Stephen Harper.
David Rosen, a Washington based strategist, believes that political psychology is as powerful as Big Data when it comes to winning elections. In his opinion, data engineers do nothing more than confirm what political psychologists discovered decades ago.
What they discovered was this: there are six political personalities and the politician who understands his opponent’s political personality can use this insight to attack his opponent and capture swing voters who apparently are more influenced by politicians’ personalities than decided voters.
Rosen says no politician fits neatly into one personality type, most display a primary and secondary personality type.
With that caveat in mind let’s run Mr Prentice through Rosen’s analytical model and see what we come up with.
Narcissist: Charming, likable, entitled, an accomplished liar, good at projecting empathy even though he lacks its. Sees others as objects to be used, discarded, scapegoated. Thrives in political and executive roles.
Obsessive/compulsive: He‘s detail oriented, serious and formal. He likes complexity and abstraction. He can be counted on to do the right thing.
Paranoid: He’s fearful, suspicious, secretive, defensive and edgy. He rejects evidence that disproves his views and harbours doubts about the loyalty of others. He holds grudges and thrives in a climate of fear. Paging Mr Harper…?
Machiavellian: Strategic, sets agendas, accomplishes goals, but is emotionally detached because he cares about power, not people. Exploits the interests and personality flaws of others.
Authoritarian: He’s concerned about rank and status. A rule oriented “kiss up and kick down” kind of guy.
Totalitarian: Fanatical, charismatic, governs through fear, awe and gullibility.
And the survey says…
When Mr Prentice ran for the leadership of the Tory party he downplayed his experience as a federal cabinet minister and a highly paid bank executive in favour of the small town boy from South Porcupine, Ontario.
Thrives in political and executive roles.
He promised Albertans the world—ethical, transparent, fiscally responsible government, billions of dollars for schools, hospitals and roads and no new taxes.
Is charming, likeable, projects empathy.
The minute Mr Prentice was sworn into power everything changed. He benched The Old Guard (Hancock, Horner, Horne and Callas) who steadfastly supported his leadership bid. Others, like Ken Hughes also vanished. (You remember Mr Hughes, a dear friend of Mr Prentice, who dropped out of the leadership race and offered his seat to Mr Prentice in the by-election).
Uses people and discards them when they’re no longer necessary.
In no time Mr Prentice lit the fuse on his secret plan to “reunify” the conservatives and enticed 11 Wildrose MLAs back into the fold.
Exploits the interests and personality flaws of others (Danielle Smith’s ambition and lack of loyalty made her an easy target). Emotionally detached, welcomed the Wildrose MLAs with open arms—the abuse they’d hurled at the Tories over the years was forgiven.
Instead of unveiling innovative solutions to the $7 billion hole in the budget, Mr Prentice prefers to frighten Albertans with Armageddon-like warnings about the drop in oil prices (“we’ve never seen anything like it”) to soften them up for an austerity budget that would make the Greeks weep.
Will exploit the fears of the people to justify a spring election notwithstanding his own law that sets the next election in the spring of 2016. The fact that the opposition parties are unprepared is a bonus.
Hmm, would Mr Rosen characterize Mr Prentice as a Machiavellian narcissist?
What to do
Political personalities look very much like non-political personalities. The only problem is that political personalities have tremendous control over our lives whereas non-political personalities can be divorced, grounded or ignored.
So what are we to do?
Rosen has a plan of attack for this personality type.
Interestingly he starts by saying a politician should never attack his opponents’ personality, but rather focus on his record, his behavior or the behavior of the nutbars he associates with to create the feeling that there’s something wrong with this guy.
At this point it’s difficult to focus on Mr Prentice’s record because he doesn’t have one, having achieved absolutely nothing in his first term in office. Scaring people half to death doesn’t count.
Also it’s unlikely that the people Mr Prentice threw under the bus would be willing to speak up—at least not while Mr Prentice is on a roll.
However, Mr Prentice’s actions provide numerous examples of less than laudatory behavior. He undermined his support of transparency by engineering the defection of the Official Opposition leader and her cohorts, a covert version of his “United Alternative” proposal to unite the federal Tories and the Canadian Alliance.
He demonstrates a lack of empathy by approving the rebuild of the Kananaskis Golf Course ($18 million) while stopping work on the long overdue Calgary Cancer Centre.
His social policy is in tatters as a result of his bill to make it practically impossible for children to create gay-straight alliances in some schools.
There is much in Mr Prentice’s behavior to create the feeling that he is a politician focused on the pursuit of power at the expense of everything else.
And as much as Ms Soapbox would enjoy a little chuckle at the end of a bizarre week in Alberta politics, this is no laughing matter.
I would opine that the ’56 T-bird, “because it was made the same year I was born” in Prentice’s words, is a solid indication of narcissism
Reminds me of when we moved to the States and my birthday fell on American Thanksgiving. I told the kids that everyone in the country had taken the day off in honour of my birthday. They thought I was nuts.
Susan, correct me if I”m wrong, but I’m beginning to get the impression you don’t support Premier Prentice! What should I do?
Phil, just ask me about Harper, that will take the heat off Prentice for a little while. 🙂
Thank you for an article on personality types and power. As a jester and holy fool I know it can be dangerous to point out the obvious. Jesus tried to point that out to the leaders in his time. A study of the picture might provide clues. What to do in the future?? Well if one tended to look closely the answer may already be in the genes and how the future will unfold. Personality types is one theory. Here is another theory to consider. Predestination and reality may come together. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1216678/
Type A personality, stress, hypertension that comes with the job as party leader may not be suited to genetic make – up. My wish is that the people at the next election will allow for time with loved ones to avoid the fates that await. After all in Alberta it is science that helps us make the best choices when it comes to environmental, health, and well – being.
One more consideration as to type of leader and qualities:
This may not be a laughing matter which if such is too offensive as it is your blog you can choose not to post.
Holycow, thanks for the fascinating article. If predestination plays a role in politics (who runs and who votes for whom) wouldn’t that pushes us closer to a world where our genetic information (which is finding its way into the ether with alarming frequency) would be even more valuable than Big Data or psychological analysis. Frightening–and all the more reason for the jester and the holy fool to continue to poke fun at those in charge regardless of the risk. (Of course that’s easy for me to say sitting here in my cosy den, isn’t it).
I saw a famous Canadian comedian last night. She said that she would like to meet Steve Harper, pluck out one his eyeballs and shove it up his rectum so he could see what an asshole really looks like. Much laughter ensued. I think her opinion of Jim Prentice would be much much the same.
Oh and Anonymous I hadn’t heard this song before and now it’s stuck in my head.
You know I respect your views Susan, but when I’m forced to look at the alternatives to Mr. Harper, I’m left fearful at what may ensue if anyone other than Harper is elected.
Rick, with all due respect, it appears you have already drunk the Kool-Aid.
Relax. The sun will still rise without Harper, and a better day awaits -no matter which alternative may become PM
It’s not that simple ABCanuck. We’re in a “better the devil you know,” kind of situation. I don’t think Harper has been stellar by any stretch, but what do the other guys bring to the table? Mulcair and the NDP are too left wing for most in this country and, outside of his name, Trudeau is an unknown commodity. Nobody thinks the country is going to fall apart if anybody but Harper is PM, even his most ardent supporters, it’s a matter of what’s the alternative?
I’d MUCH rather see you as Prime Minister than Justin Trudeau! Kool-aid or not, he does not inspire confidence nor it seems, can he articulate policy of any substance. I will never base my vote on little more than “celebrity status”.
This is more than his “celebrity status”: Former Conservative MP Eve Adams joins Liberal Party [http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics]. Wonder how, and where, Eve Adam’s nomination will be secured?
Carol, Eve Adams’ defection stopped me dead in my tracks. Why any party would agree to accept a Conservative MP who was banned from running in any Conservative riding anywhere in the country is beyond me. If Trudeau intends to get the dirt on the Conservatives from Adams’ fiance Dimitri Soudas he’d better tread carefully because Harper will sue the lot of them. Did you notice the similarity between Eve and Danielle’s explanation of why they defected–the party left them, they didn’t leave the party…yeah, sure.
Interesting conversation about Harper. Aside from the typical concerns a non-conservative would have with the conservatives, I can now add the worry that Harper is going to play the terror card in the next election. We moved to the US just before 9/11 and watched Bush, Cheney and crew bulldoze civil liberties and work the population up into fever pitch whenever Bush dropped in the polls. Good lord I almost came to blows with my American co-workers over the WMD fiasco. The experience was corrosive.
So what’s the alternative? I’m willing to give Trudeau a shot, failing which I’ll go with Rick’s suggestion and ask ABCanuck to run.
It terrifies me to what would happen if Trudeau gets in. He’s an idiot!
You know, there is still one federal party left.that yet seeks to represent Canadians, rather than either the Bilderbergs, the Desmarais, or both. Though you wouldn’t know it, judging by the dearth of media coverage of them and their policies,(see Bilderbergs and PowerCorp), they actually made the ‘official’ opposition last time around! Indeed, they only lost the popular vote by a million or so. If 80% or so were to show up to volunteer their mandate this time around it could make all the difference in the world (Eg. Iceland regularly has >78% eligible electorate turnout)
I mean, we’ve kept them around this long, maybe it is time to elect a gov’t who are not, in the words of the late Jack Layton, “too close to the banks”
Goinfawr: Jack Layton nailed it, but I don’t know how many people get it. Mind you if Prentice makes more speeches like the one he gave to the US Chamber of Commerce it may become clearer to Albertans that the government is run by a Milton Friedman acolyte. He told the Chamber that he’s an unabashed free trader and that it’s his fundamental responsibility as Premier to fight to integrate the economies of Canada and the US especially for the energy sector. And here I thought his “fundamental responsibility as Premier” was to look after the public interests of all Albertans, not just those who run the energy sector…silly me.
The lack of democracy is attracting these characters to our political system which requires the highest possible predators to win the throne. The results are obvious and dangerous. The day Pipeline Prentice accepted princess Danielle with open arms I knew exactly what kind of person we have running the show. Talk about fear – we now have austerity and fear in good times because government is always too big and in bad times because we have to cut taxes for corporations and the rich so that they can invest. What a circle of joy we have created for ourselves.
The fear as reached levels bordering anxiety attacks and we now say things like – The NDP is too left wing for most Canadians – when we should be saying that Harper and Prentice are too right wing for us to be able to have any kind of life under their rule.
Take heart CB, right now we may still be at
“The newspapers said we were going to socialize everything, that the government would own the farms, the corner store, the barber-shop, and the beauty parlor, and that everybody would be working for the state. ”
but there is still time yet for,
“When that didn’t happen, they had to give some explanation. So the explanation was that we had betrayed our principles, we were no longer Socialists and we were now reactionaries, having departed from our original ideals. In effect, we were now traitors, because we didn’t do the horrible things they promised we would. They had built up a straw man and now they were knocking it down.” TDouglas
Again, if Canada can get ~80% to show up to register their mandate things will change for the better one way or another, I guarantee it.
I know what you mean Goinfawr but it is shocking to me that we Canadians, a fairly educated society has such a problem with the government owning everything but we have no problem whatsoever with half a dozen owning more than the other 3 billion. We have no problem in allowing our own government giving away our resources for nothing or putting the interests of foreign conglomerates ahead of ours. We have no problem with companies exploiting people to extreme levels as long as it is not us. We have a problem with Fidel Castro’s Cuba but not a problem at all with China which is as bad in political terms, but China has money. China believes in free trade.The list goes on and on and on. I just hope that we do not get to the point when, just like the Americans, we start asking out loud why they hate us.
Carlos, with respect to your last sentence, I was just looking at Harper’s anti-terrorism speech. It starts with the ominous warning that “a great evil” is descending on the world (violent jiadism), builds up the crescendo of fear with with phrases like “Canadians are targeted…for no other reason than that we are Canadians. They want to harm us because they hate our society, and the values it represents” and ends with the “Daddy will take care of you” assurance that he’ll protect us with his new Anti-terrorism Bill.
Goinfawr is right when he says we can change this by getting the vote out on election day. If enough voters turn up we may be able to overcome the unfortunate vote splitting that invariably occurs. Or if Trudeau continues to do silly things, the progressive vote just might say, enough already and vote NDP. Who knows.
I would say that Mr. Prentice is Machiavellian. But he is a very poor Machiavellian sort.
Machiavellian: Strategic, sets agendas, accomplishes goals, but is emotionally detached because he cares about power, not people. Exploits the interests and personality flaws of others.
He doesn’t care about citizens.
Why should he?
He has been hired by the oil and gas industry to represent them.
He is a fiction put on the stage to ensure that the public stays sheep.
And he is a fiction created to ensure that the Progressive Conservative Party stays as an oil monarchy of the eternal sort.
The only goal he has is to advance the agenda of big oil and he is already following the Redford calendar of running to the Obama guy to get the pipelines done.
The Keystone XL pipeline business will be pushed through.
And the Prentice will get the credit for the work done by the major players in the USA.
Mr. Prentice has been myth made into a competent leader.
Actually he is not a competent anything.
I can’t seem to recall his work at the federal level.
He seems to be able to talk nicely to the First Nations to get them to agree to some things but what I am not sure.
He worked at a bank. But so what? How does all this background make him capable of getting Albertans out of the fiscal mess created entirely by the Tories themselves?
Their magical thinking and lack of savings habit has caused this crater of a fiscal mess.
But we are to believe the myths that these unleaders will save us all.
These folks have only one good skill set and that is the generation of baloney.
The myth making machinery of the provincial and federal Tories is very good.
But the myths themselves are dangerous. Citizens who don’t have the time to investigate the validity of the crap they sprout would be taken in and being the gullible sort would vote these clowns back in.
I guess voters are lazy and want daddy figures in power.
The sad thing about all these unleaders Susan is that they are fictions created for the purpose of soothing citizens back to babyhood. We are given these myths and we believe them. The fact is that these folks don’t have any mental muscles working and in addition to the failures of thinking ability in our unleaders– we’re also stuck with average or less than average electrons buzzing around the nuclei of the leaders. We have a Prentice team and a Harper team that aren’t very bright.
Mr. Prentice is Ms. Redford, is Mr. Stelmach all the way back to the Klein error–inventions of the very good myth making machinery of the provincial Tories. And Mr. Harper is a pretty good invention of the federal Tories’ myth making machines. It’s pretty neat how they have scrambled the minds of the already less than bright ordinary citizens to put fear and terrorism at the root of their twigs.
We have a bad business in this group of folks.
I don’t think we are going to be relieved of their worm burden any time soon unless we take the medicine of thinking right now.
But that’s fine.
Let the Tories be re-elected.
Let Albertans experience the purges of the Klein error again.
Let Albertans get the message in triplicate if need be.
It will make for interesting politics in Alberta and in Canada.
I want to see how the Pipeline Prentice is going to make Alberta that next energy leader as oil goes down and down. The Harper guy will bleat about terrorism now that energy superpower chatter won’t burnish his faded star. When Mr. Harper has to use Mrs. Harper to make us feel that he is a family man and a viable alternative to just about anyone else, it’s a sad day in politics.
But who knows? The terror laws might convince the dumb bunny citizens that big daddy Harper works for us. The terror trick might work with the ignorant folks but even there, how long will this issue work to get voters on board? In my mind–it won’t work because the terror issue isn’t an issue other than in terms of removing the rights of citizens.
Jobs are the issue. The jobs are the most important matter for citizens. When you don’t have a job, you can’t pay your mortgage. When citizens walk away from their houses, the housing and construction industries hurt. Then the repercussions to the downstream industries starts–we don’t buy new furniture, cars and restrict our travel. Plus with the giving away of jobs with the slave program of the TFW program we are hit with a double whammy—disappearing jobs and downward pressure on the scarce low paying jobs that are left. Canadians should be yapping to Harper and crew (Mr. Jason Kenney) about the loopholes that they have given to Alberta employers of slave labor allowing yet another year before they turf out the TFWs. It’s such a corruption of the free market that you wonder how they have the gall to preach to us about the need for the free market forces that they subvert by a flow of cheap labor to their Tory brethren.
Mr. Prentice is a politician who is very crafty like Mr. Harper. You never know who or what he will use to get to the end of the dynasty. I’ve the feeling he’s trying to be the next Harper. The Danielle Smith woman seems to be the premier-in-waiting (the oil and gas industry likes to have replacement premiers handy). I think once Mr. Prentice has “solved” the problems of big oil (if he can) he will be competing with Mr. Jason Kenney for the topdog job at the federal level.
He starts with us.
And then he gets a promotion to the prime minister’s job.
It’s pretty neat.
But let him get rehired in the next provincial election first.
I’m curious how he will tax the populate that hates taxation.
I mean why would we pay more taxes when it will go to pay for a dumb golf course that will get washed away in the next flood? Why would we subsidize the Katz Arena and the Galleria of the rich and famous in Edmonton? Why are we to be the donkeys of the 1%? It’s best that Prentice get rehired so that he can teach us a lesson that we don’t forget so that we get immunity to the Tory virus forever.
I am especially curious how he will convince us that we need to pay for the Tory party entitlements when they don’t fund the Child and Youth Advocate so that he can investigate the crimes in the area of the foster kids who have died and continue to die under the lackluster “help” of Inhuman Services. Kind and gentle this guy ain’t.
Julie, it’s gut wrenching to open the newspapers each day and see Prentice ratchet up the threat level against Albertans. I think we’ve hit “Code Red” and we’re not even in March yet.
The latest announcement that the 9% cuts won’t impact our most vulnerable citizens because it will spare two programs (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and Persons with Developmental Difficulties) is laughable given that Health, Education, Advanced Education and Human Services are on the chopping block. Aren’t school children vulnerable? Aren’t the sick vulnerable? Isn’t a post secondary education the key to lifting everyone out of poverty?
And the Health Minister and the Education Minister, brave souls that they are, are nowhere to be seen. How’s that for representation and accountability?
If I had the brains to think well and the writing abilities of a good English writer I pretty much would say what is in this post. The reason I am posting this URL is because of the discussion on the ‘we can do it’ that Goinfawr and Susan seem to believe way more than I do. I personally think that Harper is going to get the government again and if he does I personally blame it on the Liberals and the NDP because they are acting irresponsibly and not in the interest of our country. It is all to do with power. I have always believed that and I have expressed that here more than once and honestly I was glad that I am not alone in my thinking after I read this blog.
Due to the voting system we have, we do not stand a chance of getting rid of Harper and his Putin style strategy of destroying what we are as a country and build another cynical, destructive, money oriented, elite building, fear prone country. He is doing very well and as far as I am concerned he is on schedule and another 4 years will be the end of Canada they way we know it. I am glad I am getting old.
The last entry is tilted ‘Which will the NDP put first: party or country?’ and this is the one I am talking about
Fair comment Carlos. In my very limited experience as a candidate what I’ve observed is that each party thinks that this election will be their break-out year. Everyone who ran and lost says that if they just had another 2 weeks to campaign they’d have turned the tide and been victorious. This is nonsense and as Dobbin notes they put party, not country (or province) first.
So what can we do? Even if all of the people who are politically engaged voted NDP as an example, that wouldn’t be enough. What we need to do is convince those who never vote to vote with us. I think this is Goinfawr’s point. Get the 80% out to vote and it will make a difference. And this leads me to Julie’s point. The 80% won’t show up until they feel the pain of Harper and Prentice’s “protect our rich friends” policies. We’re starting to feel the pain in Alberta, but I don’t think enough voters are feeling the pain federally at this point.
This maybe totally off topic, But I have a question. When someone takes an oath before they take their job, who is that oath between EG: premier, minister, cabinet, opposition leader, etc., Who is that oath between and who can go after who if that oath is broken.? Is that oath taken for The Government, The People, or the Crown. I mean if someone takes the oath, then smashes it all to chit and walks away and still is basically employed and paid by the AB Govt. how does that work. I worked for the Prov. Govt from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s and we had to take an oath and sign a contract that included the code of ethics, code of morals and a code of conduct before we started. If any of the codes or the oath was broken, that was rights for dismissal.