“Say it louder.” That’s the almost-universal impulse of defeated political parties: “The voters didn’t like what we had to say? Say it louder!”
You lost by nominating Hubert Humphrey? Nominate George McGovern!
The pattern continues into our own time. It explains much of Republican politics since 2008, and almost every choice made by Britain’s Labour Party since the retirement of Tony Blair.
Say-it-louder politics seldom (if ever) works. That never matters. As parties shrink, their support intensifies—like a glass of orange juice in the sun, evaporating and concentrating at the same time. Which is why parties are seldom content to lose just one election. Oftentimes, it can take three defeats before hard-core partisans begrudgingly allow change.
Canada’s Conservative Party will be more strongly tempted than most defeated parties by the say-it-louder option. Its defeat in the country’s general election earlier this month was due above all else to the slowdown of the Canadian economy since 2014. Canada suffered less than most developed countries from the U.S.-led financial crisis of 2008, but it is being hit harder than most by this year’s made-in-China commodity-price recession. On October 27, for example, Royal Dutch Shell announced the cancellation of a big oil-sands project in Carmon Creek, Alberta—a casualty both of declining oil prices and America’s shelving of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. As oil has tumbled back to the prices of the early 2000s, so has the Canadian dollar, squeezing the purchasing power of all Canadians in a highly trade-dependent economy. The Canadian unemployment rate ticked up above 7 percent in September.