Think about it for a bit. It was not when Nixon's secretive corruption was simply obvious that his popularity waned in the public eye. It was only when the secrets themselves were exposed that people reacted against this man who was so blatantly evil. Anyone who was paying attention at the time knew that Nixon was up to no good in Indochina and that he was doing dubious things at home. But his so-called 'silent majority' were comforted by Nixon's secretiveness; it made them feel as though their leader was behind the scenes acting on behalf of their interests in ways that would be difficult for him to do openly. It was only when the secrets began to be exposed that people realized, of course, that Nixon was not very interested in 'the people's' interests but was just another (slightly mad) sap who was conniving and grasping in his own bizarre self-interest.
I believe that the same phenomenon is going on here today. One would have to be blind or simply stupid not to see that Stephen Harper is conniving and grasping man who is up to no good. At the very least it is obvious that he has created a government pattern of, in one official's words, "obliterating" public accountability. Slowly the pattern has emerged of a government that is trying to shut down all avenues of information surrounding what the government is doing at every level, from the use of public funds to the actions of our armed forces. And like all good Orwellians, the government actually constantly talks about their openness and accountability while doing the exact opposite.
But in the struggle to understand why Harper has maintained a certain degree of popularity while acting so secretive and ethically dubious, I have concluded that it is this very secretiveness that is maintaining him in the eye of a certain group of the public. As long as the secrets that he is holding do not suddenly become exposed there are many people that are comforted by his secretive approach of denial and cover-up. It is only after his exposure and ouster that people will say "Oh my God, this man was dismantling decades of democracy building in which we have created institutions that are supposed to respond to the people's needs and the people's will!" And then there will be a period of shock and grief much like there was after the Nixon years or, to a different degree, when the population of Germany, Spain, and Italy, had to come to grips with the fact that fascism had actually been very popular in those countries for a time.
We are like children who, when very young, look at the mysteriousness of our parents with awe and are comforted by the power we believe them to have. It is only when we begin to grow up that we see that they are human like everyone else and that they sometimes have feet of clay, that we begin to demand a degree of accountability and reciprocity from them. Every citizenry eventually matures out of a period of fear and vulnerability and begins to ask the questions. Wait for it.