Advice for aspiring politicians

Take this with a grain of salt but….

After almost two decades of watching politics in Canada and the US with most likely a little more intensity than the average Joe, I have come to one major conclusion:

The most successful politicians are those that go into the thing with a clear idea of what they want to accomplish. With real dragons to slay. With a passion to change something/anything and that is what compelled them to get into the game to begin with.

These restless lawyers, bored teachers and career minded city councillors that want to get into politics to ‘make a difference’ or because they are just plain seduced by politics (not the money in most cases ).

Consider our current Premier. Now, I am not qualified to serve up biographical considerations here. Nor do I claim to be an expert in Lord-icity. But that poll out last fall was a clear indication that I am not alone in having no clue what his legacy will be. What drives him? What compelled him to get into politics in the first place?

After the 200 days of change, we have seen government-as-usual. No burning passion to change anything. So we drift along sliding, ever so slowly, downward and we get served up marketing pablum to keep us happy.

But in the end, what will we/they say about Bernard Lord. Well, he didn’t crash the thing like Bob Rae. He didn’t try radical experiments. He didn’t try much of anything really. Just incrementally cut expenditures that are not about health. Just plow all new dough into health care and education.

Just exist.

Think about Paul Martin. Cripes, right up until the election, they were still lauding his slaying of the deficit. That was a decade ago. They had a passion and mandate to get that done and they did it. After that it was mostly just move along.com for years.

That’s harsh, and probably based on a narrow view of the world so let me cut to the ‘advice’ part and leave the ‘history’ to historians.

If you want to get into politics. Have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish. Have a passion that drives you to get into the game and then fight for it your whole career in politics.

It’s just too easy to get into politics and ‘exist’. Do budgets. Kiss babies. Cut ribbons. Have Question Period. Make changes to legislation. Do government.

But in the end, good bureaucrats can ‘do government’. They can keep the wheels moving. What we want from politicians is ‘leadership’.

What are the key issues of the day? That’s where we want the politicians to spend their time.

I used to think that ‘one issue’ politicians were the problem.

Now I see them more as the solution.

I am hoping that a few guys/gals from Harvey, Minto, Tracadie, Woodstock, Bathurst, Edmundston will get in the game with a passion to transform the New Brunswick economy. Not incrementally make the EI system more lucrative. Not to spend ten bucks more on tourism. Not to try and slay a dragon with a squirt gun.

But to come in and hammer away at that dragon with a great big cannon for 8-10 years or how ever long the public will put up with it.

Let the bureaucrats ‘do government’. Politicians should be about trying to salvage the very future of the province.

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0 Responses to Advice for aspiring politicians

  1. Anonymous says:

    Leadership like Irving tax breaks, Bennett, Nackawic, Forestry bailouts, hospital closures, the lowest minimum wage, removing no fault divorce, massive environmental degradation.

    That IS leadership, the problems always arise that only those who like their decisions call it leadership. Take a poll and for every great ‘leader’ considered by one person, an average hated politician is evident.

    Paul Martin certainly isn’t ‘praised’ for slaying the deficit. Oh, by SOME he is, now Canada is the only country with a surplus, meanwhile the US is deep in debt and their economy is going gangbusters.

    The same is true for Mulroney, Trudeau and Chretien, one opinion of a ‘leader’ is anothers view of a corporate toady, or worse.

    Keep in mind just how low voter turnout is. The fact of the matter is, a good percentage of the population is lookign for a REPRESENTATIVE, not a leader, because this is supposed to be DEMOCRACY, not a dictatorship. People like me want politicians who listen to what the people want-you won’t find that at too many levels of government in Canada, which is perhaps why politicians are so despised in the country and virtually nobody is happy with their government. Again, go research Switzerland and see how people talk about a government that actually serves them.

  2. scott says:

    Great post David.

  3. David Campbell says:

    You and I, Anonymous, disagree about the term ‘leadership’. Irving tax breaks, Bennett, Nackawic, Forestry bailouts, hospital closures, minimum wage, no fault divorce, environmental degradation are not ‘leadership’. They may be tactics of a specific strategy but I define ‘leadership’ in the political context as having an end objective, usually one that requires significant effort and risk, and having a clear-eyed focus and effort to achieve that objective. Bennett, et. al. were just discrete actions – typically in a reactive mode – designed not as part of a grand strategy.

    Now, in fairness, hospital closures, one could argue are part of a broader plan for health care. But leadership, in this area and in my opinion, would be about leading Canada in some innovative delivery or financing model. Or it might be about leading in the are of preventative. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    As for ‘massive environmental degradation’ you might argue that this is ‘leadership’ but that would presuppose the government is boldly and deliberatly degrading the environment with some end objective in mind – which I think is a stretch.

    No, I am afraid we will disagree on this.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree what you mean, that Lord is not ‘leading’ but just following the orders of his corporate masters.

    However, in a position where you have a very slim majority it’s pretty tough. In their first election clearly they were surprised they won, then things evaporated after that. It’s easy enough for McKenna to ‘lead’ when he holds every seat in the house and has no worries, that’s a different case. Likewise, Martin (or Chretien) could ‘lead’ all the way to a surplus and the lowest spending since the fifties because the opposition was split.

    However, McKenna’s legalizing gambling, and the feds radically cutting services, may be ‘leadership’ for some people, they are horribly dictatorial for others.

    The real difference is whether a person wants ‘a leader’ or a ‘representative’. I think we’d be far better off with representatives actually doing what they are elected for, not what their delusions of power, or in this case, Irving, UPN etc., tell them to do. You may want leadership in a certain economic area, but Irvings profit margin, and the Saint John Board of Trade seem agreed that Lord is ‘leading’ economic development in the way they want-wealth creaton.