Sunday, June 05, 2005

Seven Deadly Political Sins,

Or, Why I Could Never Be A Politician

There's a girl I work with at Price Chopper who is as politically astute as anyone I've ever met. This despite her still attending high school. She has a solid grasp of political history and theory and, most refreshingly, she is resistant to dogma of any sort. Whenever I read oft-recurring stories detailing how today's youth are completely ambivalent to politics, I remind myself that there are many Kathleens out there who are setting out to make a difference in the world.
The other day, in the middle of some political debate or other, she challenged me to put my money where my mouth was and run for office.
I'd like to: I really would. But I don't think it'll ever happen. Here are some few reasons why.

1) I'm not telegenic. I'll put what ought to be the most trifling concern right up front. Lamentably, the electorate increasingly expects movie-star looks out of their politicans. Brains count for little in this era when politicos rarely have any input into their own public speeches and ten seconds of pithy wordplay almost always outweighs ten minutes of impassioned reasoning.

2) Within Canada's political framework as it now exists, I am best classed as an Independent. I reject social conservatism while also rejecting Liberal/NDP entitlement. I used to be most comfortable as a Progressive Conservative, but that party is no more. That's not to say I've adopted the prevailing Ontarian view that Stephen Harper is somehow "scary"...just that on key social issues, I don't share his vision for the country.
In any case, Independents may certainly be elected, but they rarely manage to stay for long, and by definition never make it into the governing party's inner sanctum where real power is wielded and real change can be effected.

3) As a corollary to the above, I support a wide range of ideas and objectives from across the political spectrum. Assuming for a moment that a fit could be found for me inside a given political party, I'd likely refuse to toe the party line if I felt my party had it wrong. The upshot of this is that, unless I was elected Leader of my party, I'd be cast out on short notice.

4) I am a person who would do what I felt was right, regardless of what was popular at the time. I see nothing wrong and many things right with same-sex marriage, for example. Many have tried, but nobody has convinced me otherwise. I would support same-sex marriage even if polls suggested the Kill All Faggots Party was poised for a landslide majority.

5) I'm kind of blunt when I detect bullshit, and it seems to me like all parties are busily spewing bullshit at unprecedented levels. At some point, probably about three minutes into my first Question Period, I would stand up and tell people to go stand in the corner until they remember how to be good little boys and girls. My lack of political correctness wouldn't just get me thrown out of caucus: it could very well get me lynched, just after I step on the wrong toes.

6) Shibboleths and sacred cows beware: I have no regard for you. I wouldn't outright privatize health care--the American system is at least as dysfunctional as ours, in differing ways--but I would search long and hard for new sources of funding and new methods of delivering care to patients, bleating sheep be damned.
Quebec would be told in no uncertain terms to shit or get out of the outhouse. And if they choose to shit, they would need to bear in mind they'd be walking out of the outhouse with a hell of a long string of toilet paper trailing along behind them: their share of the national debt would be the least of their worries.
Multiculturalism: you want what used to be your own culture, before you left it to come to Canada, represented? No problem! Just not on the government's dime, okay? That goes for bilingualism, too: I'd keep it where it was necessary, but you wouldn't see Red Deer Centre-Ville traffic signs under my watch, I'll tell you.
Unless Quebec decided, of its own accord, to put up "Chicoutimi Downtown" signs. Then I'd at least think about it...

7) I would never seek power for its own sake; if I ever achieved it, I would use it to make what I feel would be a positive change. This is at odds with the prevailing political attitude in Ottawa today, best exemplified by the Machiavellianations of Paul Martin. Anybody who wants power that badly should never be given it.

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