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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 28 October 2013

Patterns of Evidence


I was never a fan of sitcoms growing up; it never struck me as funny, watching people back into completely avoidable, completely pointless conundrums of their own design.  It's probably the same reason I cringe when I see political advice taking the form of "avoiding risk" when it comes to providing answers or the whole thing around playing word-games to frame convenient truths.

There's a sort of geocentric logic to this, certainly; if you refuse to recognize a problem or never clearly connect yourself to it, you will always have the plausible deniability excuse to fall back on.  If self-preservation is your goal, it's a good medium-term fix, but a medium-term one only.

Obfuscation joins "but they did it to" and "but look what they're doing" as the childhood throwbacks of political discourse.  The people have short-term memory, as they say in politics; they vote against, not for.  Attack ads work, no matter what anyone says about them, which is why they remain popular.  Politicians needn't run faster than the bear, only faster than their opponents.

But there's that niggling pattern of behaviour thing.  Nobody wants to be fooled twice - no, correction, nobody wants to be played for a fool twice.  When we hear through scandal after scandal that nobody knew, it isn't a big deal and various repetitions of "we are smart and ethical, they are dumb and immoral", we eventually grow tired of being treated like imbeciles.  There is a certain element to the Senate Scandals that after ten years of taking inches, Canadians have finally decided to deny Harper the full mile.

Alas, it would be short-sighted for the Opposition Parties to suggest that Team Harper is the embodiment of this pattern of wanton bad-behaviour and cynicism; to do so would be to deny a bigger pattern that is emerging and set themselves up for a similar fall from grace.

When it becomes about winning exclusively, hypocrisy is inevitable; in politics, so is the ensuing additions to our democratic deficit.  Few Canadians still trust political righteousness, which is why they're turning out of politics entirely.

There's the rub; politics is about control, victory and self-preservation.  Leadership, on the other hand, is about empowerment, trust and communication.  Both trust and communication require a willingness to accept fault and to amend one's positions, which in turn means an admission of vulnerability.  In politics, weaknesses among your opponents are opportunities to exploit, rather than admissions of humanity which remind us we all stand upon common ground.

Which brings us to another emergent picture; our democracy is not well.  From all levels, there are many who are willing to let it go, or would rather undermine the people within the system than try to make it work.  It could all turn out so differently, if we were willing to make the effort, if our leaders were willing to internalize the concept of sacrifice they demand of others.

And there's nothing funny about "if only."

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