There’s an old saying in politics that the best way to lead is to find out which way the people’s parade band is marching – then rush to the front to lead the parade.
So, my general advice as we stumble from the starter’s gate for a fast clip around the track to an October day of decision is to watch your local jockeys and ignore, as much as you possibly can, the glamour-seeking leaders who have not yet decided which way the people are marching.
It must be 30 or more years since I first offered readers the general election principle of my much-admired commentator on matters of importance, Dr. Laurence J. Peter. And, I don’t think I’ve missed many elections – municipal, provincial or the big-tent federal – without at least one reminder from Dr. Peter that: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time – and that’s good enough to win election.”
A sad comment, but a true one, and fostered to a large degree by “The Press” which includes everyone from die-hard supporters of Gutenberg and print to the never-ending talking heads of CNN. We all seem to get a little silly come election year, and we started early this time with our prime minister openly confessing he had played his favourite game of photo-op a few times without considering down-side complications. Said he didn’t think it untoward at the time to change natural facial colours to a darker hue for theatrical reasons, but could understand today’s critical comments and courteously apologized for bad behaviour. Damage control? Maybe a bit late for that. Who knows what his un-countable famous “selfy” shots might reveal.
Maybe, as we get a little deeper into the campaign, we shall see emerging some old Canadian stature, the kind of political thinking we were proud to advance in the early days of the United Nations when Canadian peacekeepers were sought by troubled nations. I’m not sure just where we lost our stature on the world stage, but lose it we did – abroad and at home – when Lester B. Pearson retired.
Our last BCprovincial election ran on high promise from incumbent Liberals; hungry for power New Democrats, and the Greens ready to scavenge for any crumbs that fell from richer tables.”
It ended in shambles with a Lieutenant Governor’s decision required to declare the NDP winners and made so by the surprise Greens winning three seats and swinging them behind the NDP on all crucial votes.
A few days ago, Israel voted itself into a similar position with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz’s Centrist Party lacking enough seats to govern. At the time of this writing, Netanyahu has suggested Gantz bury old enmities and join him to govern. Gantz has said he couldn’t serve with Netanyahu as P.M.
And then there’s Brexit and Britain. Great Britain was once regarded as the most powerful naval force in the world with a powerful army to enforce gunboat diplomacy wherever it was required in an empire on which the sun never set. Until a couple of years ago, the UK remained one of the most stable nations in the world, despite an undercurrent of concern about membership in the European Market. The younger generation loved the freedom of movement, place of residence and ease of marketing that membership brought.
Many seniors thought old England was being swallowed by dark forces in old Europe. The Conservative government in power asked the people which way they wanted to march and seniors answered “out” and disaster followed proving once again that wise humans are not always right, nor do the aged always understand the best course in life to follow.
In the next few weeks, all party leaders in Canada will – I hope – be climbing out of the gutter they have jumped in early and telling us clearly what their plans are to make life a little better, a little more secure. Listen to them via their local candidate but think hard before voting, while taking small comfort from the truth of another Doctor Peter law: “Today if you are not confused, you’re just not thinking clearly.”