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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.

Saturday 29 November 2014

A Rebuttal/Call to Action for Scott Gilmore

There's been some negative reaction to Scott Gilmore's article on why women must run for office.  I can understand why; despite mentioning societal issues that discourage women from running, he doesn't address them.  Instead, much of his article reads as a lecture to women on how they should behave.

At the same time, it can't be disputed that Gilmore has some points.  Much like John Tory, Gilmore is simply offering advice to women that reflects the reality of political culture.  It's solid advice, if you want to get ahead in the game. 

This is an important fact to recognize, because if we don't we're just picking at the players instead of questioning the rules of engagement.

Gilmore has invited rebuttals in true Socratic fashion.  Upon receiving criticism, he has opened the floor for people to explain what they disagree with from what he's said.  He's offered to post criticisms (or at least refer them to : ).  In fact, he's even offered to donate his pay for the piece in question to @EqualVoiceCA for a response.

I wouldn't call this a rebuttal, so much as a teachable moment, but I'd be happy to see him make that donation regardless.  The suggestion on who should write the rebuttal comes later.

So, completely discounting the pressure of 700 words and the need to spark a conversation to build audience for my publisher, here goes:

Gilmore's approach is stereotypical mansplaning - ie, explaining to women the way the world works and suggesting they need to act, in essence, more like me to get ahead.  We'll return to this point in a second.

From a female perspective, this can be completely condescending, as could be his replies to criticisms on Twitter - "tell me where I got it wrong" is an abdication of responsibility to be empathetic.  "I'll post your piece (ie offer you free promotion in this man's world)" comes across almost as salt in the wound.

The "I'll donate my money to a women's rights cause" is even worse - it's like that scene in The Godfather where Sonny destroys a reporter's camera and then throws money at the guy as compensation.  The basic message is "hey hun, this is just business.  Tell me who to write the cheque to and move on." 

Of course, the frame of response Gilmore suggests actually is how the world works; we do put the economy before people and focus on transactions over relationships/exchanges over responsibilities.  The recommendations he lays out in his article for how woman can get ahead are equally how business and politics work - hustle to get ahead, don't take no for an answer, Always Be Closing.

This is how the world works, but who made those rules?  Men did.  They did so using their sensibilities, their priorities and more than a little of their genetic predispositions.

In general, men don't look at the world the same way women do.  Part of this is culture, but even the sociological aspects simply drive behaviour, which is emotionally-based.  Emotions are the product of hormones - cortisol gets you jittery, dopamine makes you gregarious, testosterone makes you aggressive. 

In general, women and men have different hormonal balances.  Men have more testosterone; it makes them more aggressive, more narrowly focused, more inclined to hunt and kill than to communicate and nurture.

We're back to where Gilmore's missing the point.

As rules have changed and it's become easier for women to run for office (as Gilmore himself has indicated) and occupy senior positions in the private sector, we have seen an increase in the number of women in these positions.

By and large, these women are tough, confident, focused and competitive.  In short, they're more like the average man in their dispositions.  They're interested in growing their career and willing to put in the time to do so, even at personal cost. 

How many of these women have families?  How many of them are content to pay for someone else to do their parenting for them, in true transactional fashion?  This is worth thinking about for a second. 
Is it a good thing for both parents to be at work 12+ hours a day and to be focused on work when they're home?  Do we want all children to be raised by nannies or daycare employees?  Is that the next step in laissez-faire capitalism - the outsourcing of parenthood?

With this in mind, let's look at some of Gilmore's specific suggestions:

They may be pushy strivers, but women can and must do the same.

Get out there and convince people that you matter more than they do or, at the very least, that you make for a compelling meal ticket.  Get the kiddies flocking you to hand out their business cards.  Put yourself and your brand first, before all else.

Nevertheless, it’s a simple three-step process: Pick up the phone. Ask someone for money. Do it again.

It's not about building relationships - it's all transactions.  It's like picking up at a bar; go to the pretty girl and ask her if you can buy her a drink.  Then ask for her number.  Then ask her to go home with you.  It's as simple as that - if you're a man.

Lack confidence? Find it. Sadly, men come by it naturally.

Exactly.  It's called testosterone.  To ask women in general to simply build more aggressive confidence is a bit like telling short people to grow taller or albinos to just develop more pigment - or to tell people suffering with depression to "just get over it."

Confidence, it must be noted, does not equate with competence.  Doug Ford is confident.  Mike Duffy and Dean del Mastro are uber confident.  So is everyone on Wall Street.  Watch The Wolf of Wall Street and remind me again how confidence is the be-all for success?

They make a conscious choice to sacrifice time with their family for time on the campaign trail. Men don’t believe you can have it all.

Of course not.  That's why the wife's supposed to be at home, watching the kiddies.  Perhaps Gilmore is suggesting women who want to run for office need to convince their partners to take on additional parenting burden.  Perhaps he's suggesting all elected officials (including trustees) should make enough to afford daycare.  Perhaps politicians shouldn't have kids at all - but then, how representative of society could they possibly be? 

Or are youth not to be prioritized in this success-first world?  That could explain a bit about our youth employment problem as well.

Gilmore closes his article with a call to action directed at women:

If you are a woman who believes there needs to be more women in politics, then do something about it.

Got it.  Political culture is the problem, women need to fix it.  The people there right now clearly aren't able to, but they're apparently not responsible for changing themselves or taking on different perspectives, either.

Write a cheque. Volunteer on a campaign.

What if you're a woman struggling to pay the bills and take care of the kids because your husband is out hustling for work and position?  You have neither the time nor the money.

Yes, blaming sexism isn't going to change things, but expecting women to play as men in a man's game isn't going to change things, either.  If anything, the laissez-faire approach taken by Gilmore - as well-intended as it may be - is part of the cultural problem that is chipping away at our society from all levels.

There is no question that our current models of politics, governance, employment, etc. are leaving far too many people shut out.  Shouting "heal yourselves" from the office towers and ivory towers doesn't help; if anything, it's merely a way for those at the top to abdicate responsibility for others.

When the unemployed give up on looking for work, when crippled infrastructure is ignored for more "low-hanging fruit" policy wins, etc, what results is a tragedy of the commons.

The solution isn't for more women to act like men to gain selfish success in a man's game; it's to change the rules of the game and start putting people before position and profit. 
Now, here's Scott Gilmore's call to action.

Instead of donating money to @EqualVoiceCA for a rebuttal of his article, Gilmore should do this.  He should do some homework and make an effort to understand why so many people are upset with the frame he presented.  Then, he should write a rebuttal to his own piece from the opposite perspective (free of charge) and then give it to @EqualVoiceCA to publish.

If he's willing to that, he'll have become part of the solution.

And I bet there'd be a host of women and men willing to celebrate him for doing so.

UPDATE 7 April, 2015

Men can certainly overplay their hand and alienate negotiating counterparts.  However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women.

Think about that for a second.

If a woman marches into the boss' office, forcefully demands a raise based on how important they and their work are to the company, odd are high the boss will think to themselves "what a bitch" and the woman in question will suffer.

We want more women as CEOs, running for office, leading boards.  At least we say we do.  When women play by the existent rules to get there, though, we find them offensive.

The answer is easy. We need to change the rules of the game.

Men can certainly overplay their hand and alienate negotiating counterparts. However, in most published studies, the social cost of negotiating for pay is not significant for men, while it is significant for women.

Remember: We Asked for This

Pierre Karl Peladeau is a success story.  He's got a ton of money, he's got a strong record of private sector success, and he's clearly hungry for the job. 
That's what we want, right?  Leaders capable of getting things done, of building an enterprise, who have the fortitude to push for what they want?  Clearly, these aggressive, win-focused types are the ones who will give us what we want to win political office, because that's the way democracy is supposed to work.
It is more than a little frustrating, but equally as difficult to change.  We look for leaders with the qualifications to be alpha males and protect/provide for the herd.  But we aren't a herd, and what we should want are leaders who are better at committing sociology than they are at tearing down opponents.
How often have we heard that our social model is broken - yet we look to status-quo leaders to set things right?  How often has it been said that our economy is broken - but instead of looking at culture change, we're trying to pressure more powerless people to act like the powerful ones who broke the system in the first place?
We practice Objectivism and, whatever we say out loud, apparently have bought into the anti-community idea of individuals as islands. 
We get mad at opportunistic self-promoters and schemers, yet we don't change the game.
When we don't get the results we want, we have only ourselves to blame.  So, if we want change, don't get mad at someone else - we have to roll up our sleeves together.


Friday 28 November 2014

Communicaiton: Wynning the Future

In one neat sentence, Paul Wells sets the scene for the culture change that's upon us.
On the one side, there are those who believe that fight makes right.  He who wins makes the rules is the political variant of he who has the gold makes the rules.  It's as true in its fashion of functionally fixed Stephen Harper as it is of ISIS or Uber - they aren't able to adapt, don't believe in dialogue and instead are trying to shut up or kill off anyone who opposes them.
Thing is, there is no other side.  Everyone who fights is crowding the same space.
Meanwhile, those who practice empathy, understand facilitation and are looking at structural solutions over individual wins are playing a completely different game.  They're changing the culture in little moves rather than killing foes with little cuts.  They're self-reflecting, adapting their approach as the times and demands of the landscape change.  They're making a point of understanding the fight guys so to know how best to approach them and find common ground.
Know your enemy.  Know your self.  Know the terrain.
If you can't negotiate with them - if you can't find common ground - then you still have the option to beat them.
That's the secret.
And it's why now's the perfect time to be committing sociology.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Super Together When We're Part of a Team

If we're waiting for Superman, it's gonna be a long, long wait. 
Wouldn't it be better to get super together?
More and more folk not only seem to be getting on this thought-train, they're succeeding as a result.
Just sayin'.

Emperors Don't Follow Laws

I know I'm not the only one who feels far too many members of the Harper government (both elected and non-elected) feel that, because they are top dogs, they rest above the law.  They make them for other people and are held to a different standard, one they themselves set.  It's reminiscent of Karl Rove:
Call me sensationalist, if you feel the urge.  I can point to many, many sources of evidence to support my argument.  They can all be summed up in one line:
A government committed to democratic engagement recognizes that Parliament, a free press and independent courts are fundamental pillars of a democratic system.  Such a government, when faced with repeated opposition to their approach, would self-reflect a bit and consider if they need to change the way they operate.
This isn't how Harper's government has ever operated.  Faced with opposition, they don't compromise; they double-down, attack, do whatever they can to get their opponents to back down so that they may win. 
Lina Keene they could can; not-for-profits they can defund; they get more ink that Carol Todd, so reframing her positions to fit their narrative and then shutting her out is easy.  The media can be side-stepped, and has been. 
And yet the Supreme Court has been doggedly defiant of the Conservative Empire.  This is problematic, because opposition to their agenda, in their eyes, makes them look weak. 
The courts, however, aren't so easily suppressed or manipulated.  At least, not yet.
And that should be of serious concern to all of us.

Love this

But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely.
What man is a man that does not make the world better?

Getting to Yes: Sales, Sex and Parliament Hill

There's no small irony that we're hearing about the awkward backroom sexual interactions of Parliamentarians at the same time they're making decisions about sex work.
One other piece to add to the mix, though - ABC.  That is, Always Be Closing - the mantra of the salesperson.  This concept of always being on the hustle is the narrative spine of Laissez-Faire Capitalism, which is the system we have right now.  You have to push to get what you want.  No doesn't mean no, no is simply an invitation to probe further and get to yes.
Ever heard of Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In?  Ever hear of senior executive suggesting female employees need to be coming all the way to them and demanding promotions instead of expecting their work to be recognized on its own merits?
How about "kids these days, they're lazy, they aren't trying hard enough to get jobs, they want everything handed to them." ?
As the economy tightens and as the people at the top consciously or unconsciously start to reap the benefits of being kings and queen's of the hill, there's an increasing amount of pressure on everyone else to do the heavy lifting.  Which inevitably means sales.
Michael Hlinka is one of those that teaches young students to hustle, to set real-world expectations and fully admits that he abuses the perks of his position because he can.  The implication of what he says is "my position shouldn't exist as it does" but the lesson taught is "I get to there, my troubles are over." 
Don't take no for an answer.  Hustle.  Be aggressive in your sales.  It's all about completing the transaction - Always Be Closing.
Good for Pacetti, right?  He kept at it; intro at the bar, convinced her to go back to his place, drinks, clarified intent, closed the deal.  Transaction made.
Maybe the lead was weak, but he got it done.  High fives in the locker room, or the boardroom for stuff like that.
That's not exactly how we want to look at sex, though, is it?  If anything, Bill C-36 suggests we think sex should be an act between an engaged couple and that sex-as-exchange is morally wrong.
Of course, sex and sales are completely different things, right?  We fully expect rational-actor adults to realize there's a difference between "it's just business" when hard-selling people for cash or votes but something sociological when it comes to reproduction.

But where are the examples of these rational actors?  If anything, the evidence suggests that the aggressively successful people are more, not less likely to act the same way in their professional lives as they do in their personal lives.  Of even worse, having recognized a veneer of civility helps make it easier for people to give them what they want.
Ghomeshi shocked a nation (more because we enjoy the notion of being shocked than any actual surprise that a celebrity would act inappropriately).  #beenrapedneverreported started uncomfortable conversations about male sexual aggression towards women while touching on the dearth of EQ there is at all levels of society (but perhaps excessively so at the top of competitive fields like politics).
Now, there's this. 
Shelia Copps kneed her attacker in the groin; a pretty clear indication that advances weren't appreciated.  I would suggest that Ms. Copps has more balls than many of the men on Parliament Hill and it's not a reasonable expectation for every woman to be as aggressively self-defensive as that.
Pacetti pushed for what he wanted and created favourable conditions (his place, his booze) to get it.  Is that much different than looking for a majority government to push through omnibus bills with?  Is it any different from a youth seeking work setting their sights on a job they want and doing whatever they can to land it?
Which could very well be what Alexandara Constantinidis did.  Or Michael Sona did, and proudly so.  Or Sebastien Togneri did, because that was the example he had to emulate.
Frankly, anyone who's scored successive wins in politics has played this game.  Adjusting policies to win votes, attacking opponents to reduce their votes or a whole host of less polite tactics are all part of getting to yes at the ballot box.
We have tried to silo our actions for messaging purposes, because that's how messaging works.  We have ignored what troubles us and focused on low-hanging fruit, because that's how quick wins get amassed.  Yet as a consequence to all this, we have waded into a tangled, messy reality that we're trying to mask with a veneer of civility that is rapidly flaking off.
There are no individuals who bear the blame; there are no innocents.  We will never get out of this sticky mess of cultural dissonance without asking some hard questions of ourselves, our environments and our expectations of life, of work, and of society.
We have to grow past a functional fixedness on short-term wins and start discussing actual solutions.  This can't happen if we focus on transactions - we need to engage in relationships.  That means moving beyond the WE want THIS from THEM framing into something more #howmightwe move forward together?
If ever there was a time to commit sociology, it's now.  Right now.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Clarificaiton of Speech

When I raised Ms. Todd’s views during my Senate appearance, Senator Denise Batters responded that she had since “clarified her views on the bill.”
So I'm clear - an unelected Senator responded that a voter "clarified her views" on a bill that said voter - the mom of Amanda Todd - has previously and very diplomatically criticized?
"Clarified" is politics-speak jargon that really means "misspoke and is essentially issuing a retraction without having to apologize."  What Batters suggests is that has had a nudged change of heart on the Conservative Bill.
That's a big step further than Peter McKay saying "look, I talked to her and helped her understand the intent in a way that may wasn't clear before."  It's essentially saying that the woman whose dead daughter is being used to brand the bill is being manipulated or silenced by unelected partisans.
Think on that for a second.
Of course, all this could be cleared up if Carol Todd could express her current understanding and believe in committee.  Which she is not being allowed to do.
Her daughter's image is being used to promote a bill with components she disagrees with and she's being silenced so as not to muck up the narrative.
There's been more than a few people silenced in recent years; it started with bureaucrats, moved to not-for-profits, and now it's taking in private citizens.
If you don't find that troubling, then Harper was right - Canadians fundamentally don't care about Parliament.  That means our democracy no longer functions as designed.
And that's a matter that certainly deserves clarification.

The P Word

Pizzazz.  'Cause it couldn't be policy - people fundamentally don't care about that, right?  They want populism, like it's an addiction. 
No doubt Doug Ford would add celebrity to the PC's race, a bit of notoriety in a format that would get more attention that Tim Hudak did.
But is that really where they want to go?

Protocols, Comms and Consciousness

Two people alone in a room after drinking.  Why were they in the hotel room, as opposed to anywhere else?
You can pick one perspective and come to natural conclusions that are completely at odds with each other.
It's the same thing as women dressing sexy - does it make them feel empowered, the way a guy might feel better about himself in a suit, or is it the equivalent to primate female indicating they're in heat by flushed bums or phermonal release?
I tend to be very aware of what people's body language says about their thought process.  I look at people all the time, on transit, in crowd, to learn and contextualize; I look at their face to know what they're thinking, their body language for what they're feeling and their feet for where they're going.
Since #ghomeshi happened, and since the Parliament Hill thing erupted, I've been more acutely aware of how those forms of physical expression relate to me.  I have a pretty intense gaze - I don't blink a lot, I'm slightly myopic, but not enough that I feel I need to wear glasses all the time.  But when I look at someone, it's blatantly clear that's what I'm doing.
So, when I look at a woman and they know that's happening, how do they respond?  Am I sure I'm reading their language the way it's intended or could I be interpreting in a way that, at some level, is more what I want?
As I become more aware of all this interaction stuff on a conscious level, I realize how unnatural it is.  We "feel" our way through situations more than seek to understand them; we follow our gut, look for our win, etc.
The primary social defense mechanisms against this inability to look at oneself through the eyes of the other are laws; it's as true of religious edicts as it is our existing legal system.  The secondary mechanism we have is trade/transaction; if we can codify human interaction in transactional form, nothing is for free and therefore some boundaries can be set.
Neither of these methods are perfect, because they still rely to some degree on that thing we are struggling with - empathy.
This is why Restorative Justice and Roots of Empathy are so effective; they're all about strengthening our empathy muscle, which in turns gives us more control of how we flex our social engagement.
We don't celebrate this.  In fact, we discourage this; in our capitalist system, it's the transaction that's supposed to lead.  It also happens that a competitive, transaction-based model favours those with luck on their side, as they have more weight in negotiations, as well as sociopaths who have no empathy at all.
But this is the model we're recognizing as unconducive to dynamic growth in the Knowledge Economy and structural solutions for our social woes.
It's embarrassing - let's say humbling - to realize there's no protocol for harassment.  Why?  Because the implication is that they people who are supposed to have all the answers don't.  It's the same reason why the Jason Kenneys of the world are so opposed to apologies; it's too much like admitting weakness, which results in a weakened hand in negotiations.
Yet the truth is that protocols are only a temporary solution, as any imposed structure is.  We need to design-think the answer, which means a willingness to commit sociology. 
Even that isn't the full picture, because there's still a margin for error - and that's just plain inefficient.
This isn't to say there's no solution; there is. 
It's not one that can be imposed from without, though - it must be grown within.
Which is another message that has been kicking around for a while.


The Fish and The State

It's unfair to make gross generalizations about groups of people by the actions or inactions of a few, so I'll try not to do that.  I will, however, point out certain observations.
Jason Kenney is considered to have his eye on the prize - replacing Stephen Harper as Leader of the CPC.  He's got his fans and his detractors, each of who can easily justify their positions.  In this particular instance, he leapt at the opportunity to pillory an opponent before doing some fact-checking.  Even now, when his source has issued a retraction, Kenney has done no such thing.
Previously, Vic Toews made a statement about being with his Party or with child pornographers, then said he never uttered any statement of the kind.  Dean del Mastro was shocked, shocked when people he'd smeared didn't have his back when he got caught out on unethical behaviour.  Peter McKay doesn't seem to get why people may be suspicious about his sincerity, especially given his penchant for hiding behind others in defense.
Nigel Wright, upstanding citizen, behaved badly.  So did Michael Sona (whether on his own or not), so did Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau, on and on.  Alexandra Constantidis, a young staffer who spent time in the employ of Rob Anders (not particularly a model parliamentarian) has been behaving in a less than ethical fashion. 
Why are apologies less than forthcoming from these individuals when they are caught behaving badly, or when the foundation of their attacks crumbles?
How they self-rationalize their positions is their business; how they actually arrive at them is another matter. 
To leap on an opportunity to tear down an opponent with over-the-top messaging is to dehumanize them.  To expect humane treatment from those you treat inhumanely is a form of narcissism.  To speak through your emotional relationship with a context - ie, Toews denying the words he actually said to Don Martin - is to react before understanding or contemplation has a chance to set in.
To fabricate an identity, lie to others and try to disappear so as to avoid accountability is a combination of all of these things.
What happens when you believe that the people have short term memories, not like yourself?  Are you setting yourself above the people?
What does it say when you suggest people don't care about the way Parliament works - and what are you suggesting they care about?  Beer and popcorn, perhaps?
How about when you use false information to get money out of your own supporters?  Is that not treating them as less clever than yourself?  Is that not dehumanizing them?
To apologize to people you consider yourself better than is to diminish in self-esteem.  It's humbling, equalizing.  Winning isn't about equalizing - it's about putting others behind yourself.
Think about this for a second.  The Tories could push their omnibus bills, close committees, choke off funding for agencies they don't like and whatnot without ever having to directly answer their opponents - just do their own thing and speak over the heads of the institution to which government is accountable (ie government) and make their pitch that way.
But they don't stop there.  They have to be tearing strips off their opponents, keeping them down like an alpha male gorilla will take swipes at young bucks who contest their authority.  This isn't a generalization of the actions of a few - these are decisions and frames that get approved by the PMO. 
They relish and encourage the administration of beatings to their foes.  They reward those who do so on their behalf.
Delivering a beating has nothing to do with the truth, with ethical practice, with democracy or transparency or any of that.  It's about domination.
Domination - only the leader can solve our problems, trust them to keep troubles from shores and reject pretenders - is not about democracy.  Democracy is quite the opposite.
Destroying any and all dissenting voice isn't democratic, either.  We know what that is.
There are those within Canada's government who act as though ethical practices are for lesser beings.  There are clearly young people, even seasoned people who are responding to this culture and acting in kind.
It's not the spun arrogance of a Liberal that should concern Canada's conservatives.  There's broad-based acknowledgement from everyone not an insider that our democracy is broken, politicians are lost and the future is more frightening than any threats lapping at our shores.
As they say, the fish stinks from the head.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Alexandra Constantinidis: Canary for Culture Change

A post I previously wrote about Constantinidis' encounter with Andrew Leslie is being much viewed today - probably due to the post above.  In my previous post, I framed that encounter as a positive thing, an example of agonoism - tough questions meant to further dialogue and explore all facets of an issue, ensuring robust conclusions and appropriate policy as a result.
I'm experienced and/or jaded enough to know that wasn't the intent, mind you - our politics is all about the gotcha moment where foes are concerned and circling the wagons in political omerta where our own tribe is concerned, throwing someone under the bus as a last ditch effort to maintain the status quo.
But that's not a frame that's sustainable and not one I want to reinforce.  Unlike some out there, I actively don't want to add fuel to our burning platform.  I'd like to think we can think far enough ahead, plan far enough ahead and be agile enough now to avoid the complete collapse of our system.
Then again, I'm no delusionally-confident partisan pitbull.  I'm the sort that fully expects aggressive tactics like the ones apparently employed by Constantinidis and built on by Kenney and co to blow up in everyone's face.
So let's step back a bit and look at this in context.
It looks like Constantinidis has intentionally gone in looking for "gotcha" moments to embarrass Liberals.  She's ready to record.  She's asking questions designed to solicit answers that can be positioned as negative and passed on to Sun News to trumpet to the world.
From one point of view, this is fine, as democracy should be - we theoretically want to be having an open conversation in which representatives and would-be representatives who impact policy decisions state their opinions so we can get a sense of who they are and how they think.
Of course, this frame of politics is naïve.  It implies that politicians want to be judged on their own merits and be chosen by the people only if they measure up.
That's nonsense.  Politicians want to win.  Political Parties want to be government.  They want to frame themselves for the win, not for public interest.  They want to control the narrative, not passively accept the public's choice.  There's nothing laissez-faire about politics.
Which leads to the other point of view - that the more we play gotcha politics, the more real opinions go underground.  We end up with carefully controlled messaging, spin and opaque policy conversations that lead to things like in camera committees and omnibus budget bills. 
These are all anti-democratic - but then, so is focusing on wins at all costs.
According to the version of the story now being circulated, Constantinidis lied to a public official so as to carry out her clandestine mission; she faked her name to get in and even said she was her look-alike cousin when called out.  It's not clear that Raynolds was the person who issued the "beer and popcorn" statement, but this fact has been ignored by the Brian Lilleys and Jason Kenneys of the world. 
From their perspective, it's not their job to tell the other side of the story - that's the Liberals' job.  Their job is to make their side stick, to frame the narrative, etc.  It's war-room politics, full stop.
Think about that for a second.  They don't feel responsible for the truth, only their version of it. 
I would argue that goes against the basic premise of individuals being self-contained rational actors, as it implies truth can only be achieved by collaborative action.  I'm fine with that.  But there's something else that I do find troubling.
How old is Constantinidis?  She looks like she's in her 20s.  Her LinkedIn profile suggests she's a student until at least 2017, provided it's a match.  Her Facebook, surprise surprise, isn't so accessible right now.
Are we to assume she acted entirely alone, lying, playing gotcha politics, etc?  If so, where did the idea of lying for a gotcha quote come from?
Are we to assume Michael Sona acted alone with the Robocall scam?  If so, where did he get the notion that such actions were acceptable?  Do we blame mommy and daddy, or is there a suggestion he's just a bad seed?
What of Sebastian Togneri?  I actually know his parents - they are kind, honest people who are active in their community.  They would never condone abuses of power, nor instil such values in their children. 
If we are to accept that these three young people were self-contained in their bad behaviour - or, better framed, bad behaviour they were caught out on - how did they get to positions of influence?  Where Constantinidis is concerned, why would she have assumed that acting in such a manner was a way to build her brand and get ahead?  Is she right on this?  If so, when did loyalty to Canada via a partisan party become more like Mafioso omerta?
Clearly, this has nothing to do with riots on the streets in Ferguson; what's happening there has nothing to do with a culture of entitled insiders playing the game for internal wins at the cost of social sustainability.  There's no need to ask hard questions about the failings of our culture; not when we don't believe in culture.
We keep hearing that politics is broken.  In fact, it's a line being parroted by tough political alphas to define themselves and hammer their opponents with (just don't look behind the curtain).  It's not their fault; nothing is their fault.  They're just playing the game as it's designed - and playing to win.
When we see youth pushing the envelope of political dark arts, it's time we step back and consider how we've gotten here, where it's going to lead, and if it's a place we're prepared to go.
Because, mark my words - this is no longer a "kick the ball down the field" to another generation thing; those leading the charge of our democratic decline are going to be alive and kicking when the consequences of their actions come home to roost.

History's actors, indeed.

We Are All #Ferguson

What's happened in Ferguson isn't about Michael Brown.
It isn't about one cop, either. 
If it was either of these things, the matter would be over by now.  If the world were truly as Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher wanted it to be - individuals as islands in a stream, no such thing as society or social systems - this wouldn't be happening.
Yet it is. 
Does this mean communists have infiltrated and are nudging the masses?  Maybe this is all an ISIS plot?  Or are, as far too many voices suggest, black people simply violent?  Or cops all racist murderers?
It goes deeper than this.  You cannot understand what's happening in one community or with one individual by looking at that individual case alone.  You need to look at context.
For the same reason, you need to look at consequence.  It was never going to be as easy as one cop getting off, or one cop going to prison.  Anyone who thought or continues to think that is deluding themselves, like the ostrich with their head in the sand.
Or perhaps a better analogy would be the corporation or party looking to grab the low-hanging fruit and move on.
That's the culture of isolationism that allows for bad things to fester, like a sickness.
A sickness of our social conscience. And where sickness thrives bad things will follow.
It will get better - but it's going to get a lot worse first.


Protests across the US

Protests across the US

Protests across the US

Protests across the US