It looks like a blogger that I was beginning to read on a daily basis has just picked up and deleted all of her posts. FLJ (or For Liberal Justice) has had all of her posts removed from her blogspot account and cleared any follower that may have been following her. It makes me sad, to say the least. I enjoyed her writing and her willingness to proudly broadcast exactly what was on her mind. She called it as she saw it, believes in Ignatieff, and was willing to call out Liberal bigwigs when they didn’t follow her example.
So it’s a real shame to see her stop blogging.
(I’m hoping she’s just moving over to a domain name and I’m just panicking over nothing. :) )
There is one thing, aside from Hockey, that Canadians have perfected.
It is the art of complaining.
We complain about our leaders, the economy, those damnable Americans, the atheist-statist nutters in Toronto, the fascist-zealots in rural BC/Alta., the lines at Tim Hortons, the warm government beer, the cold but chaotically priced private beer, those damnable Americans (again), Trudeau Sr. (for Alberta), Ignatieff (for the Bob Rae crowd), Ignatieff (for the Jack Layton crowd), Ignatieff (for the times when Harper needs a scapegoat), Ignatieff (for whenever a reporter has not enough time for a deadline so she rags on Ignatieff), PM Borden (for the conscription crisis in WWI), pressing ’1′ for English, appuyant sur ’2′ pour le français, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May (leader of the Greens) being tactically daft in 2008, Layton for his inability to stop being the opposition’s opposition, the weather being too hot, the weather being too cold, the weather being too wet, the weather being too dry, and so. much. more.
It is truly an art form just judging from its breadth and paradoxes.
I’m not saying that some of these people/things deserve not to be complained about. No, not at all–rather, the point I want to make is that the discourse now made by political partisans and Canadians at large are being influenced by the obscene level of this type of debate. It’s a bland mix of people hearing it all before, not willing to listen nor trust, and a poisonous concoction of unhappiness with all of those in Ottawa. (“Complaining” might not be the best word to describe this enlarging of this singular act to the many, but it’s a word that can be used to describe at least a part of what is going on.)
While, at the same time, there’s schism between expectations–of an amazing single man to swoop in and save the day–and the tempest of doubt/pessimism. Just look at the story of Michael Ignatieff over the last two years: at first he was expected to beat Stephen Harper senseless (or, at least, show the ‘country bumpkin’ what a ‘real politician’ could do), then to call an election as soon as possible, then to not call an election because Liberal numbers went down, then to call an election in the fall of ’09, and he then was swamped with “just visiting” Harper Conservative ads tearing into the Liberal party. So the opinion of Ignatieff dropped. The people, supposedly, felt cheated. Ignatieff, as it were, wasn’t a ‘leader’, wasn’t a person people saw a Prime Ministerial ‘stuff’, and wasn’t prepared for the hot seat of national governance. However, lets take a step back because something isn’t right here.
Ignatieff came in on high expectations of victory, a message pumped into the public mind by a media and by story-starved reporters. Then, when the over-estimation came crashing with reality… people, or at least the pundits, felt cheated. Their appointed Messiah didn’t oust the dastardly, anti-democratic, proroguing man in the PMO. This was when the “just visiting” ads came out and an upsurge of negativity from the Harper Conservatives towards the other parties. The negativity, that complaining mentioned earlier, and the declaration of a pox on all parties’ houses set in.
There’s a reason why there is a high level of antipathy held by a majority of voters against all the parties. It isn’t just the summer BBQs, and vacations that are pulling Canadians into a political “mleh”–this has been a trend since almost October/December of ’09. It’s an expectation, I think, for some awesome Messianic figure to come down from the mountain tops to deliver them. Someone to inspire them. Someone to spin tails and turn heads, and lead… which was unrealistic for a regular mortal.
Err.. Essentially, this is Messiah Complex. It’s the feeling, or the need, to find some figure to align with. And it needs to be ditched.
For one thing, it isn’t healthy. Flipping between leaders, not outlooks of policies, is a recipe for unmitigated disaster.
Another thing, the reliance on ‘big men’ to guide parties guts the institutional strength of both the system, the parties, and the government. Just take the retirement of Chretien: the internal deficit of leadership warped the Liberals, irrevocably harming it.
Thirdly, the leader cult allows for one-man dictatorships to arise. Although curtailed in our current constitutional system, the ongoing centralization of the government in the PMO under Trudeau through to Harper has made this bulwark signification weakened. This allows for abuses against tradition (prorogation), truth (the census fiasco), and justice (G20, our versions of the American’s PATRIOT act). I think everyone can agree that this is a bad trend that is exasperated by the Messiah Complex.
Fourthly, it devours fresh, promising leaders. You cannot compete if you’re not a target of that complex while others are–and you cannot compete if you are considered a beacon but not capable. Ignatieff has been targeted to be devoured from this schism between Messiah and the complaint-morass of negative politics.
Then the solution?
Listen to Ignatieff. Judge him for what he says and how he backs it up. Watch him go on his tour this summer–listen to his words, attend in person, and make your decision. Ditch the willingness to imbibe in chants of partisan pride, and pay attention to his messaging.
Next, understand that Ignatieff isn’t the Liberal Party: he is only a part of it. You–yes, you–have a local Liberal candidate. Meet her (or him). You have a local Liberal Electoral District Association: meet them. Listen, get involved, donate (if you can), and push for a more inclusive, more dispersed sharing of political power by virtue of everyones’ involvement.
This advice also pertains to Harper and Layton.
Following both of these very personal acts there are public things to do as well. Firstly, turn off the overly-emotional, mouth-frothing partisan attack dogs, thus allowing a return to politics of facts and not emotion, by either stop buying papers that peddle in such things or by stopping the writing of those articles (good luck, journos). Secondly, turn off the spin and seek truth: there is a truth out there and several decent (not perfect) was of solving problems. Just like there’s no perfect leader there’s no perfect solution: you need to pull ideas from everyone to lead appropriately.
… A trend over the last few decades was to wait for a single man (and it has always been a man) to waltz in and solve everybody’s problems. This is neither sustainable or correct. It is also an inappropriate way of viewing the world and Canadian politics seeing that such a superman does not exist on any portion of the partisan partitions.
In accommodation to this reality there needs to be a re-examination of the role of the citizen by each citizen. There needs to be an active engagement, a pulling to the grassroots the powers held by those ‘above’ (whatever is ‘above’ the grassroots), a pulling away from American-styled “hitman” politics, and a re-examination of the guiding principles of justice, truth, and tradition in our political system.
And in no particularly political order here are a list of books that I’ve read that I think everyone should read in preparation of an election or campaign. These are plucked from my shelf so it isn’t a complete list, albeit this list is one I’m very familiar with seeing that I’ve read each of these front to back more than once,
- Parliament through Seven Centuries, Hansard Society
- Memoirs, Rene Levesque
- Memoirs, Brian Mulroney
- My Years As Prime Minister, Jean Chretien
- Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper, John Ibbitson
- The Hidden Games of Organizations, Mara Selvini Palazzoli
- How to Run For Local Office, Robert J. Thomas
- The War Room, Warren Kinsella (Must Read)
- Leaders and Lesser Mortals, John Laschenger (Must Read)
- Words That Work, Frank Lunt
- Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare
- The Prince, Machiavelli
- Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
- The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (Must Read)
- The Art of Always Being Right, Schopenhauer
- Harper’s Team, Tom Flanagan (get the 2010 edition–it has an extra chapter in it)
- Uses and Abuses of History, Margaret MacMillan
- The Armageddon Factor, Marci McDonald (Don’t read it for its argument or ideological opinions–rather, read McDonald for her name dropping and information on political-religious organizations.)
- City Politics, Canada, James Lightbody
- Shredding the Public Interest, Kevin Taft
- Finance and Accounting for Nonfinancial Managers, William Droms (For Financial and Official Agents everywhere.)
- Get Smarter, Schulich
- Smart Women Finish Rich, David Bach (Ignore the title–read the book.)
If you think any other books should be listed just comment below.