As we’re on the verge of an election call, the buzz on the streets is that we’re also on the cusp of a major shift in the political landscape in Alberta. While I’m all for that (it’s sort of why I’m running :)) I think it’s time for the populace to engage in some serious reflection and introspection about that it is they want as an outcome of this election, and as a reality for the next four years. Where are we going? What is it we want?
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I find so distasteful about politics is all the game-play. It’s like being at the carnival, where the hawkers try to draw you – and your money – in with their bright lights and loud whistles and promises of the most fun you’ve ever had and dangling the prospect of winning a gigantic stuffed giraffes and dogs (because really, you can never have too many of those). And at this particular carnival the hawkers actually go an extra step, not only dazzling you with their glitz and glamour, but working diligently to convince you that all the other game stations are at least a rip-off and even downright dangerous.
You know what I mean? It seems like most of the parties spend their time yelling, trying to get your attention, like… a carnie. Ringing bells and flashing lights and bright promises. They also spend great amounts of time – and money – convincing us that the others (especially the party in charge) are very,very bad. Often, after I spend a day listening to all the political clamour, I feel just like I feel after a day at the carnival: disappointed and drained. The reality doesn’t ever seem to live up to the hype, and all the jousting and jockeying and wrangling is frankly exhausting. I look at all this and think, “No wonder so many people have checked out of the process and don’t even want to vote. Does this stuff really represent our values? Is this really who we are?”
In no work place in my community would it be okay for professional people to heckle, name-call and insult one another in meetings, or even to shout across the room. In the business world, if you make a bunch of promises and people buy your product and it doesn’t meet expectations, you don’t stay in business very long. And I can assure you that a marketing plan that involves constant diatribes about how rotten your competitors are is not a winning strategy. Yet this is how it is in politics. Is that weird to anyone else?
Most non-political Albertans I talk to are disgusted by the nastiness and feel insulted by the manipulative tactics. What we see displayed in the political arena in terms of conduct is not representational of the values and principles by which Albertans live. The people I know, my friends and neighbours, are caring, giving, honest and forthright. They go out of their way to help one another. I know people who have very little, but would literally give someone in need the shirt off their back. They work hard and live by the code “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. I grew up in this province; those are my people. These are the values I know; this is my Alberta.
Anybody can tear down; tell me what you want to build. Not the empty promises of ringing bells and flashing lights, but paint me a picture. Give me a vision to share. It’s easy to point fingers and I guess all the players have been told this is how the game is played. I don’t want to play the game. I just want to serve my region, my friends and neighbours, these wonderful, decent people I admire and respect so much. I will, of course, issue challenges when it counts and I won’t back down from fighting for what I believe in, but I couldn’t care less about the game of politics. If I needed to make someone else – a fellow Albertan – look bad in order to make myself look good, I feel I’d be saying more about my lack than theirs.
So, as we go headlong into the campaign season, I hope you won’t see me bashing the other candidates or being catty and cruel. If you do I give you permission to give me a smack (or perhaps a snack; it could just be low blood sugar – haha). Let’s send a message to the Leg and say this has gone far enough. It’s time to raise our standard of behaviour to a level that reflects the values and principles of the people of Alberta.