A buzzword is a word that used to sell an item without really explaining anything about it. Buzzwords can have a very technical origin, and they might have meant something useful at some point, but by the time they are bandied about by the general populace, they’ve become vague placeholders that are meant to trigger emotion, not transmit information. Buzzwords are fantastic selling tools, because they shift the purchasing decision away from “what features does this item have and do I need those features?” to “do I feel good when I think about buying this product?”
The LPC Biennial convention was awash in buzzwords. It was buzzword-driven, really. Bold. New. Change. Modern. Status Quo. Grassroots. Insiders. These words carry connotations and implications, but they have little practical value. I can proclaim that I will boldly innovate my next meal, but that could easily mean that I’m going to put fried eggs on top of chocolate pudding. Bold doesn’t mean good, and status quo doesn’t mean bad.
Initially, I was perplexed by how the majority of attendees embraced these buzzwords without asking what practical application they would have. They grumbled about “the insiders and elite” of the party being the cause of all evil, but the two leading presidential candidates were as inside as you can possibly get. As I caught on to the sense and function of the convention, I understood what was happening. It wasn’t about logic and pragmatic decision-making, it was about the psychology of identity and trauma.
Pretend that the Liberal Party is an individual, and consider how traumatic the May 2nd loss was, especially after 6+ years of being insulted and belittled publicly. A person who suffered through an experience that challenged their ego and self-esteem so profoundly would still be affected by the event 8 months later. So the party came together to reassure itself and repair its ego. The change that they all rallied for was to change from losers to winners. And can’t we all get behind change like that?
Another huge part of the convention was reconnecting the members to the leaders, past and present. Faith in the leaders (and by extrapolation in the party itself) had become absent and worn out, and the members needed a chance to feel appreciated and listened to. Re-forging that bond between troops and generals was incredibly important, and the event was designed to do that. It was fan service for the loyal party members.
I wouldn’t want you to think that I was somehow disillusioned or jaded by the convention process. The more that I interact with groups of people and watch how they direct their own lives, the more I understand how much power emotion has over our minds. I know that the psychological element of the convention was much more important than policy book-keeping and constitutional bickering. Politics is a competitive sport, and the party had to get the fans back on side and excited.
As a side-note, I’m currently of the opinion that all human interaction is some kind of sales pitch, and that’s not a bad thing. We share information and test our knowledge by trying to convince others to adopt our perspective. So don’t attach any stigma to the term “sales” because we’re all looking for a little buy-in.