[This is a diary entry I made on 02|07|2015; Please do not email me about grammatical errors]
When the transit referendum results were released, I thought long and hard for why they lost.
First, they focused on way too many points. They tried to make it applicable to everyone, to seem as if everyone benefits. A theme throughout the campaign was that there were simple proofs that could disprove the unpowerful statements that the Yes campaign was making. For example, when you said that “it would benefit everyone, especially drivers”, obviously that was a broad generalization, because of course it wouldn’t benefit drivers that much. When they said “we have no plan B, this has to go ahead”, that was obviously false because the failure of the vote simply would be your plan B. And worse of all, when they said that “translink isn’t doing poorly, it’s a good organization”, that was perceived as evidently false because of the CEO salaries, and the compass problems.
But the solution to the 3rd point isn’t really to attack it. You can’t defend CEO salaries. But what you can do, is divert it. You can change the focus. You can say, “So what?” Stop trying to defend every point. Stop trying to be right. Just focus on the message, and stop playing defense. By saying that “Translink isn’t wasteful, it’s fiscally sound”, this statement not only immediately gets perceived as false, it puts emphasis on this issue. It makes people think that fiscal responsibility is a huge issue, it thinks that accountability is important. It’s not that it’s not important, it’s that when you try to defend this point, it makes people focus on this issue, and think that it’s important. If you don’t focus on this issue, and when the issue comes up, you just say, “So what?” That’s beside the point. It’s not about translink. It’s not about accountability. It’s not about fiscal management. It’s not about giving them more money. That’s besides the point. It’s about whether we want to build more transit. Think about it this way, each penny that you pay in extra sales tax, will be an extra penny spent on an infrastructure project. Discredit the part about accountability. Don’t make people focus on fiscal management. Because the more people focus on it, the more they will find it an issue.
Use simple cause and effect relationships. It’s usually not right, and are generalizations, but they work. The NO side didn’t have the right argument, but they knew how to argue, and they won. They focused on one issue: Translink. Just listen to how many times Bateman says the word “Translink” in a single interview. They won because they were successfully able to link the Tax to Translink (which they lathered all over and focused on Fiscal Mismanagement).
But I am very optimistic. Perhaps not about the state of Translink, but the situation of transit across the region. I hope that the transit system stays intact in its current form so that metro vancouver has a united transit system, but if slightly altering translink will improve the public’s perception of it, then I’m all for it. But I’m optimistic because clearly the province has to do something: the province has gotten the message that we really need transit. And with all the media attention on transit, and the mayors hacking on the single point, and the media climbing aboard, the province has heard loud and clear: WE NEED TRANSIT NOW. And the province won’t wait long. They have the money, and they know that they need to fund transit. Expect to get a millenium line extension very soon.
I will release a video next week about this very topic.