Justin Trudeau’s campaign team claimed to have signed up 171,000 people for his leadership bid. All the Liberal party candidates signed up 294,000 members and supporters combined.
But, even after a special deadline extension, only 127,000 of them bothered to register to vote. That’s just over a one-third turnout rate.
And who knows how many will actually cast a vote — the final step. It will almost certainly be less than 100,000 people.
In a country of 34 million.
It’s embarrassing to the Liberal party, but especially so for Trudeau, who boasted of connecting with young people and ran a fashionable but content-free campaign.
Trudeau’s people never tired of pointing out the number of his followers on Twitter — 195,000 — as if he was a Hollywood B-list celebrity, proving he still has “buzz.”
But apparently clicking “Like” on a Facebook page isn’t the indication of commitment Trudeau and his party hoped it was.
Even worse, an analysis done by reporter Joan Bryden shows that of the 127,000 Liberals who actually did register, 60% of them are over 50 years old.
Only 8% are 25 or under — the students, graduates and young families Trudeau claimed was his base.
No, his base is aging baby-boomers who are trying in vain to recapture some of that 1960s magic Trudeau’s dad had.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Trudeaumania was essential, because it was all that Trudeau offered. His was not a campaign of ideas, nor of experience — the man has little of either. But a mystical connection with young people, and that sense of cool, was supposed to make up for all that. Just like Obama did.
Except it didn’t work here.
Worse than that, it flopped. Only 127,000 people registered amongst all the Liberals combined? Last year’s NDP leadership race had 131,000 registered voters.
Boring men like Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp created more of a mania than Trudeau did. And the NDP caucus is far younger than the Liberal rump that remains in Parliament.
There is the obvious lesson here: Don’t believe the consensus media’s hype. It was unanimous on Parliament Hill that Trudeau was a saviour.
Sorry, that wasn’t reporting. That was wishing.
Another lesson is that Canadians actually value substance. Whatever one thinks of Stephen Harper or Mulcair or Topp, they are men of accomplishment and ideas. The last allegedly sexy Liberal leader — Michael Ignatieff — was an electoral disaster, too.
Another lesson is that slacktivism is not civic engagement. In fact, it’s a placebo — a way people can pretend to have done their civic duty, to excuse them from actually doing something valuable, like joining a community group, going to a town hall meeting, or going to a real polling station to mark an X.
Justin Trudeau didn’t inspire young people to get involved for any idea; he anesthetized them, telling them symbolism and style was enough. After all, it was enough for him, right?
The prescription is not to make voting emptier and easier, as Marc Mayrand, Canada’s eccentric chief electoral officer, proposes.
In 2011, Mayrand wrote he “is committed to seeking approval for a test of Internet voting in a byelection held after 2013.”
Why? I mean, other than empire building, budget growing and legacy buffing? Is it important that someone who doesn’t care, and chooses not to care, can click “Like” on their smartphone while they’re surfing cat videos on YouTube, and we call that “voting”?
Justin Trudeau would benefit from it. And so would China’s People’s Liberation Army, which has the world’s most aggressive hackers, like the infamous Unit 61398 in Shanghai.
China hacked Nortel for industrial sabotage. They hacked into the Pentagon’s computers, despite billions of dollars in security. Last week, North Korean hackers shut down three South Korean TV stations.
But Mayrand, like Trudeau, values fashion above all.