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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.

Thursday 20 March 2014

The Political State

I remember a story I was told early on in my political staffing career as a sort of warning as to why it was important to be both mindful and cagey about connecting with the outside world.  The story was about a Minister in the Mike Harris government who'd gotten a bit too entitled to their entitlements and been caught with their hand in the till.
The story was about this Minister being hounded from the Legislature, down the tunnel between the Leg and Whitney Block and right to his office by reporters asking if he was a pig at the trough.  The fella's kids were apparently teased at school, the wife looked at with derision when out and about in town.
This was a story told almost with relish.  No surprise it was told by a war roomer who may or may not have played a role in pushing out the negativity of the story to the degree it was.
That's the thing about highly aggressive, elbows-up politics.  It is a bloodsport and if you are thinking of participating, be ready to get bruised and expect a little collateral damage.

Which is not to say politicians don't do things they should be held accountable for.  But as the case with a constantly-punished child, if you don't feel you can do anything right, what's the incentive to try?
Not a very welcoming environment for someone less interested in partisanship than policy, is it?  Or pols with families who want a division between personal and work lives?
It used to be the case that there were open and closed doors when it came to political sniping.  You could disagree with someone's actions or opinions, as it were, without demonizing their character.  As politics becomes more partisan, more focused on the win than policy, this is changing.
People don't matter.  Individual talent is judged only in its ability to serve The Party.  The Party -
not the constituents, not the Parliamentarians - hold the reigns. 
As such individuals are thrown under buses, are character assassinated, are subject to false, overblown and cherry-picked claims by opponents that long to see them bleed.
Nothing personal, don't you know - it's just business.
I understand very well that this is how politics functions and know all the argument in favour of aggressive, cut-throat partisan bickering.  I just also know that this is why politics isn't working and why we have a democratic deficit.
The aggressive, competitive, kill-or-be killed partisans aren't preventing a problem in their attempts to demolish their opponents - they are the problem.
At the very least, it's something to think about, no?


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