RED DEER, Alta. Feb. 28, 2017 /Troy Media/ – Politics (and the nonsense perpetrated upon society by and about politicians) has become an obsession in the western world.
We can’t get enough of the bad choices our leaders make, the provocative and twisted things that they say and do.
We can’t get enough of the seemingly random, uninformed thoughts and acts of those around us – on social media, in newspapers, on television – about politics and politicians. And by politicians.
We’re obsessed with the invective that spreads like an infectious rash, the protests, the plummeting or skyrocketing polls, the threats, the litigation (and threats of litigation), the posturing and the belligerence.
Buried under all of that should be real issues, real areas of social concern, real need for reform and improvement.
But we don’t seem to notice. We’re too infatuated with the inflammatory to consider the fundamental, and the need for enduring solutions and reforms.
And so many of our leaders seem caught in the same whirlwind of rhetoric. They just don’t seem to get to the details. They don’t seem to solve the problems. They don’t seem to follow through on promises. They don’t show the kind of focus and intent needed to accomplish much of anything.
Government seems neither timely nor committed enough. One step forward, two steps back.
So we languish.
Part of that, of course, is the nature of politics: always trying to soothe the voter, looking to the next election. Rarely just doing the right thing – now – for the ultimate good of society.
But 21st century politics seems so much worse. So much more insulated from action and progress.
In Alberta, much has been made of the New Democratic Party’s revolutionary arrival. And there are noteworthy things on the landscape that weren’t here two years, like an intent to curtail carbon emissions.
But in my community, as an example, there are glaring examples that fundamental responsibility has been deferred, delayed or ignored. For example, a desperate need for an expanded regional hospital – despite repeated government reports recommending such over several years – continues to be ignored. Lives are lost, others fundamentally altered and diminished, because someone, somewhere, can’t or won’t make an essential decision. Or doesn’t care enough.
On the national landscape, Canadians were led to believe that democratic reform, massive infrastructure rebuilding and a new health-care funding deal, among other things, were all both essential and imminent. We’re still waiting, more than a year after the new Liberal government was elected.
Do we blame Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley, vanguard leaders who still haven’t demonstrated they have enough substance to legitimize the veneer?
Do we blame Jason Kenney and Brian Jean, who seem so intent on reviving an archaic era that they can’t see modern social reality?
Do we blame Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary, whose vitriol is designed simply to attract the lowest common denominator, not to address issues?
Do we blame Brad Wall and Christy Clark, whose every utterances seem driven by a political pragmatism that drops principle like so much roadside trash?
Do we blame Donald Trump and the Brexit movement, as so many around the world want to, for selfishly sculpting political edifices fashioned from a myopic visions of society?
No. Blame yourself.
We’ve conceded social knowledge and commitment too easily simply so we can join the parade. We don’t look closely enough at the issues, we don’t consider deeply enough the consequences, we don’t include empathy in the equation nearly often enough.
Albertans understand how tough times can prompt questionable choices. It wasn’t inspiration that led us to Danielle Smith, Alison Redford and Ed Stelmach. It was desperation and a lack of preparation.
Some already think the same of Notley, and that’s fine.
What’s not fine is how that disappointment and concern manifest themselves. In 2016, there were 412 security incidents involving Alberta’s premier. Twenty-six were deemed serious enough to be forwarded to police for investigation. Those numbers are unprecedented – and appalling.
I’m disappointed and disheartened by the behaviour and performance of leaders near and far. We should all be. They had taken their franchise for reform and turned it into licence to prevaricate.
I’m far more disappointed and disheartened by the actions of far too many average citizens. Spend less time on Twitter, Facebook and searching out alternate facts on the Internet. Spend less time venting mindlessly. Spend a little bit more time gaining some awareness of the facts and the possibilities.
We’ll all be better served by being less obsessed with the nonsense that passes for social discourse in the modern political world.
John Stewart is editorial vice-president with Troy Media Digital Solutions Ltd. and editor-in-chief of Troy Media. John is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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