Politics. Does the word make you weary? Frustrated? Angry? Indifferent?
The word and its reality cannot be avoided, these days. If you live here in Ontario we are about to undergo a provincial election, with the prospect of yet another federal election threatening the near horizon (once the Liberal party sorts out its leadership) and to the south of us, the great battle royal in the US – the seemingly never ending presidential election.
I admit I’m tired of it all. Not politics itself, but the posturing, the speechifying, the tattle taling/name calling scandal broth of it all. I’m frustrated beyond measure at the irresponsible way the press has of covering the news – and I mean this about both sides of the political spectrum. I’m disappointed in the way people have of talking about and writing about politicians, as if the fact that they are politicians gives us permission to shred their character.
When discussing politics and deciding how to cast our vote, it isn’t necessary to turn nasty. We may not like the candidate we aren’t voting for, but let's remember the dignity inherent in every human being, the respect each person deserves. Let’s challenge the argument, and not attack the person. The "other side" may think - and live - differently than we do, but that doesn't make them stupid. I'm tired of wild, inflammatory talk. The issues at stake are far too important to be treated so carelessly.
Have you noticed how little public discourse there actually is about the important issues? Instead, we trade insulting quips, and slurs, and try to one-up the other side with rumours and ‘gates’ (White Watergate, Benghazigate, etc.)
This is the thing: both sides believe the other side is lying, and misguided. In reality, both sides are. Egos get in the way; desire for power gets in the way; the need to be right gets in the way. The real issue gets overlooked: governance, in service of the people. We need stewardship and leadership, not rhetoric and posturing. And along the way we have fallen into the habit of scandal mongering. It's perfectly right to disagree with a person's ideas when they differ from your own, but to malign the person for having those ideas is ineffective and can be destructive.
Differences of ideology are important. We’re meant to challenge and temper each other from either side of the political spectrum. Being socially or morally opposed to another’s ideas is not a bad thing. It is in fact invaluable to the system – it keeps the government moderate, which keeps life running smoothly, regardless of who happens to be in power. There has been enough evidence in recent history of what departure from moderation means for society. Having moderate government should allow the very conservative and the very liberal to coexist without infringement or compulsion.
The important distinction is the emphasis on questioning ideology or policy rather than attacking the individual. I'm challenging myself here as well: from now on, to respect the man (or woman) and discuss the ideas instead.