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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.

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Bear Catches Up


We are smart, they are dumb.
You don't need to know what you're talking about, you just need to sound confident while saying it.
Put your foot on your opponent's throats and keep it there until the day after election day - or, in this never-ending political cycle, forever.
We just need to find a horse to put in the race.
Politics is about many things - defining opponents and ballot questions, careful strategies (including the picking of fights with the right opponents) and lining up the right sales items, the right image for a given horse.
But one thing it's not - never has been - is about people.  Crafting a suite of policy items picked to woo specific coalitions of voters or provide poisoned chalices to your opponents isn't about the people - it's about playing to win.  Attack ads aren't about people - they're about instilling fear, anger or doubt.  That political narrative of righteous leaders who somehow have managed to avoid falling into the partisan traps that all their competitors (and predecessors) have isn't about the people.
Yet this is how the system is designed to work.  We can theorize all we want about ambitions and the innate nobility of humankind, but politics is about one person getting more votes than another and one Party winning more seats than another, period.  It's competition, plain and simple and as we've seen at all levels, including the Olympics, when you have a strict competition model, people will do what it takes to win, even against the rules if they think they can get away with it.
Unless it's not about winning.
The best athletes don't compete against their competitors; they compete against themselves.  The best politicians aren't about what the people can do for them, but what they can do for the people.  It's a significant psychological difference.
A focus on beating your opponent is like being chased by a bear; you don't need to be faster than the bear, just faster than your friend.
The tough, charming, conniving political chess players who think themselves better than others fall continuously into the trap of the great Political Paradox - the harder you work at winning a political contest, the less likely you are to set a high standard while in office.
The examples of this are many - take a look at any level of politics over 2013 and you'll trip over the vast number of proofs.
As Parties compete more aggressively through greater expense, more advanced tools and techniques and a narrowed focus on numbers (dollars and memberships), they're missing a very important reality.
So focused have they become on besting each other, largely by poking at each other, that they have all slowed down. 


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