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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.

Friday 17 January 2014

When Your Only Tool Is a Hammer...

What's the key part of this statement?  

From where I'm sitting, it's the "take seriously criticism" part.  Team Harper has a long trend of not taking seriously criticism, period - on environmental policy, on economic policy, on the way they treat veterans, on a national healthcare strategy, on how they treat scientists.  They have criticized and disparaged pretty much everyone who disagrees with them; it doesn't matter whether it's their own staff, well-respected NGOs or even foreign associations and dignitaries.

If you don't share their point of view you are dangerous, dumb or devious and quite likely all three. 
Harper's CPC feels it's their duty to point this out through attacks in the House, on the hustings and of course, through paid and social media.

There's a psychology behind this, but it starts with bitter partisanship, something we've seen a steady increase in from all Parties, at all levels.  Rob Ford is as much a product of this tragedy of the political commons as is the Senate Scandal.

Harper's not the first to put going for an opponent's jugular at the top of his to-do list, but he's the most egregious to date.  In this country, anyway - there are obviously worse examples in Russia, Greece and Syria.

But therein lies the problem; when it becomes about winning, not achieving, you stop building.  You stop using all the tools - outreach, consultation, diplomacy, transparency - that bring the pieces together to make something greater than what you have.

Instead, you focus on removing the obstacles around you that may keep you from finishing first.  It's a self-reinforcing habit, this; it may start with leadership rivals, then Opposition Parties, but left unchecked this inclination to tear down turns to your own team, potential allies, even unbiased stakeholders.

It's like the shrinking of the middle-class; the more you undercut the unaligned, the longer becomes your list of enemies.  That's fine, if you plan to destroy them all, but in a practical sense you can't.  We all know what happens when you try.

The solution, as always, is to look forward and put achievement first.  To build, you need additional tools and more diverse resources.  You might even want to get second opinions and accept as valid constructive criticism, which you will actively encourage.  Above all, though, you need to know where you're going rather than focusing on how you'll end.

It's not too late for Harper to alter his approach and start doing what he needs to.  There are even some big, structural wins he could tackle that would facilitate this new approach and help him build the credibility he needs to be taken seriously as a nation builder.

But of course, we all know he won't.  After all, doing this his way has got him this far, right?

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