Buyer’s remorse is defined as:
the sense of regret [people feel] after having made a purchase. It is frequently associated with the purchase of an expensive item such as a car or house. It may stem from fear of making the wrong choice, guilt over extravagance, or a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller.
Sometimes buyer’s remorse occurs immediately after a purchase; sometimes it takes time to sink in and that’s why there’s probably no better phrase to describe how many NDP members felt after the 2009 Leadership Race and then the subsequent 2011 provincial election which saw the NDP tie with the 1982 NDP for the party’s lowest number of seats won since 1934.
I heard the first signs of buyer’s remorse happening immediately during voting day at the convention. After the floor shows and nomination speeches were over, I overheard one person say to another: “I’ve made a terrible mistake. I voted in advance and I voted from Dwain Lingenfelter.”
There were many other members saying similar things that day – that they didn’t realise what a strong resume Ryan had. Or how much his personality impressed them. Or that they had put their chosen candidate first but wish they’d ranked Ryan higher on their preferential ballot.
I don’t have the same anecdotal evidence for what people were saying after the 2011 election but I suspect those feelings of buyer’s remorse recurred for many. (I do know it was at the forefront of my mind back then.)
Of course, my post after the provincial election imagining how things may have gone had Meili won instead of Lingenfelter was clearly labeled as a work of speculative fiction. In reality, it’s impossible to say how the results may have been different had Ryan won instead – the NDP may have done better, they may have done the same or, in all honesty, they could’ve done worse.
But what would’ve been different is that the Sask NDP would’ve had a leader in place who would’ve been well-positioned to begin re-building the party at that point rather than three years later, which is where the party finds itself now.
Re-building from a more disadvantaged position than 2011 will be the first and perhaps biggest challenge for whichever of the four leadership candidates is ultimately victorious.
All four candidates bring similar tools to the table – youth, energy, intelligence – and all are more than capable of leading the re-build. But Ryan, as the only former leadership candidate and one whose potential many only saw too late, has an advantage in this regard that none of the others do.
Will buyer’s remorse be a factor in the election this time? Only time will tell…