More than anything else the thing that I miss about my exit from active politics is the family that one gains from it. Since I was a boy in Etobicoke I have relied upon politics for a steady supply of great and loyal friends, or political family, as I like to describe them.
Partisan politics is a tribal business - one tribe vs. the other in competition over limited resources (seats) in the quest for power (government). That's partisanship.
Political relationships, though, are different - or they can be, at their best. Having been in countless campaigns and having spent an unhealthy amount of time around political people, I've seen teams form bonds that go beyond the workmanlike measure that some political operatives seem to prefer. I've watched strangers develop deep, personal relationships - knowing each others hopes and fears, sharing inside jokes, being there to support each other through challenges that go beyond the political arena.
Like a company of soldiers, people in politics with the right leadership and the right support become like family, with the intuitive sense of collaboration that implies. There is nothing so magic as watching a well-oiled team flow together, working an event or hitting the hustings. The mechanics of the process are so natural, so complimentary, so trusting that the work just happens and value gets added instinctively.
At the same time, when there is that deep level of trust, respect and commitment between team members, they will not be afraid to engage in interventions when necessary. They don't do this as a challenge or a threat, but out of love of the individual and the whole.
Strong, supportive individuals working together to create something that's respectful of but more than the sum of is parts.
That's what family is; that's what politics can be - and we work together, that's what society can become.