Five Things Stephen Harper Could Do To Improve His Public Image
It’s been just over a year since the Conservatives won a landslide victory creating Canada’s first majority government in seven years. The problem with such a monumental victory, however, is that the higher you fly, the further you fall. And like a Lego-haired Icarus Prime Minister Stephen Harper flew too high and is currently on a very fast descent - His public approval rating is now the lowest it has ever been. Issues such as the F-35 procurement, voter suppression allegations, attacks on science and the environment, and a questionable omnibus budget bill have left many Canadians angry and disillusioned - primarily with the way the government has been conducting business: seemingly on an Etch-A-Sketch under covers in the middle of the night.
The pollster that conducted this public approval poll believes that Harper will return from summer break with “some sort of charm offensive” to improve his personal brand. To put it in the context of a 90s teen movie trope, the Conservatives plan to take off Harper’s glasses and removes his ponytail in hopes that Canadians will realize he’s actually been a hot girl the whole time. But that’s obviously not going to happen. I think he’s going to end up looking more like Seth Green’s character in Can’t Hardly Wait,
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are 5 things PM Harper could do to improve his personal brand without pandering to the masses and pulling a Poochie.
In the past, Harper has used his love of hockey for political gain, and there’s no faulting him for that. Canadians fucking love hockey and, for better or worse (but likely worse), they’ll believe he’s is a better guy for enjoying it too. But why not reach out to some other athletic communities. What about Soccer, the world’s biggest sport? Surely with Canada’s rate of immigration Harper could find some new supporters on the pitch. Or better yet, why not make an effort to actually play a sport and get in shape. President Obama finds time to work out, and his country is a complete clusterfuck. Surely Harper can find 30 minutes to go for a jog. Consider this, for most people around the world, the biggest signifier for an asshole is a fat, white, middle-aged, male politician. So unless Stephen becomes Stephanie, he’s going to have to hit the gym.
Try Something New
For a leader who’s been frequently described as “robotic” or resembling a “reanimated corpse” with the stiffness of “Dr. Frankenstein’s monster” (all my own quotes), showing a little flexibility both physically and politically could go a long way. Why not try yoga, it would definitely earn him some gluten-free brownie points with the west coast hippies and yoga mom crowd. Hell, he might even be able to get some free lessons from the billionaire founder of Lululemon and Ayn Rand fan, Chip Wilson. They can find their inner peace while discussing how their own self-interest is the most important thing in the world.
Engage the Public
It’s a new digital world, you don’t have to go out and shake hands or kiss babies to seem likeable. Leave the babies alone. Please. This seems like a perfect time for Harper to beef up his social media presence. But be careful, there’s nothing more embarrassing than a politician using words like “Zune” or “meme” or “hashtag fail”. And don’t try to seem modern by having your assistant provide you with a brief summary on “what’s a Grindr do”, fucking engage in the technology. Maybe not Grindr (though it couldn’t hurt), but something. Twitter is a good platform to develop your personal brand, but it can’t be cold and calculated (like Stephen Harper often is), it should sound like a real person. Try to be funny. Make a joke about farting or post a photo of your cat. Or post of photo of you farting on your cat. Just try to sound like a god damned human, Stephen! People are starting to ask questions.
Show Some Warmth
Showing an emotion, affection for instance, is a great way to to appear like you are, in fact, a human. When Harper shook his kid’s hand while dropping him off at school, that did not make him appear very human. That’s the kind of thing a sociopath would do. And while I’m sure that he and his son were just wrapping up an important breakfast meeting regarding future arrangements to pass a ball back-and-forth between each other for a still negotiable amount of time, a pat on the back would have been a little less creepy.
With all the recent cuts to Statistics Canada and scientific research, Harper is looking pretty bad in the eyes of anyone who enjoys things like facts. No one wants a Prime Minister that seems like he would walk into a school science fair and start kicking over dioramas screaming “FUCK THIIIISSSS!” He’s got to prove that he sees some value in knowledge and education. Any education. He hasn’t made an outright attack on tradespeople, but could you imagine him saying to an electrician what he essentially said to the scientific community? “Listen, your contributions have been appreciated but we’re no longer going to need your expertise. We’ll take it from here.” There’s probably a good ‘how many politicians does it take to screw in a lightbulb’ joke here but the joke is that they’d actually prefer to be in the dark.
Stephen Harper really doesn’t have to get a new haircut (though he needs one) or grab a beer with some locals to make people like him. He just has to do his job and not be such a partisan dick about everything. I think if he takes my advice he could make a few small steps towards seeming like a pretty normal guy. Or, what might just be easier, he could start governing the country in the manner we expect from politicians: Transparent, accountable, and like he gives a shit about what Canadians think. Problem solved.
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