Search This Blog

CCE in brief

My photo
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.

Thursday 22 August 2013

If You Have Democracy Today, Thank a Politician

One of the smartest things Government Relations people will tell their clients leading in to a meeting with elected officials - "thank them for something."  You want to start a conversation off on the right foot, creating a playing field where ideas can be discussed freely; putting people's backs up, forcing them onto the defensive from the get-go is not conducive to nurturing a relationship or getting results.
"Thank you" aren't words politicians hear very often - everyone has too many things to complain about to stop and recognize the things are elected representatives get right.  This is even more applicable to Opposition Parties, loath to suggest government gets anything right; that's too much like rewarding the enemy.  A war roomer once told me the best thing an Opposition Party could do would be loosing monkeys in the Legislative Chamber, creating absolute havoc and stopping anything valuable from getting done.  It's clearly a lesson Tim Hudak and his inner circle have taken to heart.
From the other side, knowing everyone is out to attack them, it's imperative for politicians to focus on what they do right and ignore what they do wrong - there's no point in giving ammunition to those looking to pillory you.  The same even goes with good policy ideas; if you put your vision out too early, it's guaranteed everyone who wants to see you fail will go out of their way to find the negatives.
What you end up with is self-congratulating politicians who refuse to admit they are capable of mistakes, governments that hoard ideas and are loathe to table anything bold and Parties that figure they will never make voters happy so instead, focus on determining the right ones to piss off to gain "vote against the other guy" support.
Gas plants, wars on teachers, attacks on foreign students and workers or unions - none of this is constructive.  None of it helps nurture a strong, united province able to compete against other jurisdictions around the world.
You can blame politicians, but that tendency is itself part of the problem. 
If we really want collaboration - if we truly are after big ideas, bold reforms and structural change - we need to change the political culture, first.  That means easing our politicians off the defensive so they can put their guard down and maybe have enough faith in the people that bold ideas will be considered and debated rather than ignored or lambasted.  Then, start presenting "how about this" ideas - don't just criticize, but give them more raw material to work with.  When Parties work together and find common-ground solutions, congratulate them; positive reinforcement works better than no reinforcement at all.
The only way we're going to start addressing the big issues is to have true debates, not a series of attack points, over potential solutions.  That won't happen as long as the public is only responding to attack ads. 
If we truly want to get Ontario growing again, we're going to have to nurture that kind of growth.
Starting with the odd "thank you" will go a long way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment