August 12, 2010

Why We Will Never Have Decent Leaders

It's easy: because decent people would never, ever want to be politicians.

Politics at every level is a soul-sucking compromise. And because you must be all things to all people at all times, it is fundamentally impossible, like sneezing with your eyes open.

Gail Collins is awesome today in the NYT. She delves a little into how stupid things keep good people from becoming elected, while the electorate blithely looks away at some true travesties. She's funny, too. Go read.

The press is stupidly not helpful, of course. I really would love to find out who the hell cares, in this day and age, if someone smoked pot in college. We punish people for being too smart, but never for being too stupid. We allow soundbites to become platforms, and freight throwaway lines with import. All those people in Toronto cheering for that imbecile Rob Ford, who just says 'I won't waste your money', but has yet to figure exactly how he's gonna do that? Here's how: he would have constituents all living like Lord of the Flies. Yes. You can be Piggy.

Voters believe what they want to believe. They believe that who a politician sleeps with is more important than his ability to negotiate, research, know her history, know the constituents, be aware of coming demographic trends, and truly strive to represent all voters, not just the ones who voted for him or her. No, we want to know what time their kids go to bed.

My favourite barometer was the one with former U.S. president George Dubya. People voted for him because they'd most 'like to have a beer with him'. ARRRRGHGHGHGGH.
If I let the people I most like to drink beer with run a country, a province or even some little redneck town with one blinking stoplight, everything would explode in a ball of bad. These people are fun and entertaining for a reason! They do not have their fingers poised over any important switches! If you ask them for a decision about something, they're likely to ask if you're gonna blindfold them and spin them around three times first. I mean, it's a game, right?

If a politician tells the truth, he will not be elected. When he lies, he must do it artfully, so he can undo it later. It must be like one of those boat knots I can't figure out how to tie, that look like a series of loops and secure knots, but you just gently pull on edge and the whole thing unstrings. That is a politican's statement.

Let's talk local politics for a second. I got up close and personal with some examples of that earlier this year. Quite frankly, never again. But as times change rapidly and we're mired in archaic structures that serve no one, leaders are truly only cover-your-ass-ers. Take a boo at Mississauga. Yeah, tough crowd out there who blindly voted repeatedly, no questions asked. Where's that blindfold?

Municipal politics is gross. It's the stuff that matters most in people's direct lives: building codes, dog poop, garbage collection and noise. Yet who is happy? I'm not. Truly decent people venture out onto the stage, and risk being bashed away by preening narcissistic entitled trough hogs who have learned to speak in the soundbites we crave. We get what we deserve. And the problem I have now? I don't believe anyone in their right mind would willingly put themselves forward for such punishment.

Which means we are voting amongst the addled.


Anonymous jmd said...

And to put the rancid icing on the cupcake, Levi Johnston is running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and will probably win.

Abandon hope.

August 12, 2010 11:02 AM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

My father in law was elected the MP for Oakville in 1974. He ran because he truly thought he could make a difference. If nothing else he is a man of principle (although he did burn his wife's car to the ground by attempting to charge his electric toothbrush in her car using his camcorder charger. While camping. Ethical but lacking in a certain... shall we say... um... street smarts.) He quickly found that there is no room for ethics in politics. He was ushered into Pierre Trudeau's back benches for daring to say "I think there might be a better way of doing this."

But he still gets a Christmas card from the PM (when he's a Liberal) and we get to eat in the Parliamentary cafeteria. There's plenty of room at the trough.

August 12, 2010 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The customers of Mr. Ford's business, Deco Labels, are satisfied. I have been told that it is a profitable enterprise. It would be a nice change for Toronto taxpayers to be treated well by their Mayor. At this stage, in Toronto, if all anyone in office did was not waste money that would be a success!

August 12, 2010 10:04 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

I must admit that over the years I have bought a great deal of product from the Ford family business. Doesn't make me a bad person...

August 12, 2010 11:00 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Politics is the only field I know where a candidate has to fulfill every one else's Maslow's Needs on the speculation that they will vote for him or her! Maslow's Needs is a Pysch term describing the basic demands required for proper human development. They are categorized as physiological, safety,love-and sense of belonging,self esteem and self actualization. This puts a huge toll on anyone involved in such a ludicrous enterprise. This vampiric activity of the candidate by the voters can only mean equally savage retaliation to replenish the candidate's official's own physical, emotional, safety and self actualization needs. (I'll make sure your slush fund is topped up if you convince your union employees to swing the vote) At some point during the process, the symbiotic relationship goes feral with the candidate going corrupt whether elected or not. It can benign, like the famous "John Turner Shield" to malignant like Brian Mulroney. Put it this way, would you volunteer to infect your body and soul for the betterment of others?

August 13, 2010 1:25 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

See, I think you can safely park your assumptions about Mr. Ford based on his family business, frankly.

The best mayor for Toronto would have been John Tory. Mr. Tory and I have rarely seen eye to eye on several issues (I've called him out in my column before), HOWEVER, I absolutely believe he is intelligent, principled and has a vast amount of expertise in the business of running a city.

And to kind of prove my theory, he has (thus far) refused to join the circus.

You are picking the best of a bad lot.

And don't mistake me here. I would totally love for Ford to get elected. From a blogger/writer standpoint, there would be nothing better. But don't you be mistaken either. He is totally unfit for the job.

August 13, 2010 8:32 PM  
Anonymous B1 said...

I spent a lot (far too much) time consorting with pols of all stripes and at all three levels of government.

I came to believe that anyone (with a few exceptions) who wanted to run for elected office should be automatically disqualified.

August 14, 2010 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really sorry that John Tory has decided not to run, and agree with you on Rob Ford. When you look up "buffoon" in the dictionary . . .

August 16, 2010 7:40 AM  
Blogger Nursedude said...

I dunno...I don't think I would vote for any of the current candidates for mayor of Toronto. Although not a Liberal I actually liked Smitherman as Minister of Health for awhile. But he trivialized the issue of inadequate care standards in nursing homes and started arguing about Attends (incontinent briefs) by saying he would wear Attends and see how it felt to go around urine soaked. I'm pretty sure he never did.

On the whole we get the elected representatives we deserve.

August 16, 2010 7:52 AM  

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