Tuesday, April 16, 2009 was a very big day here in Alberta.
We went to the polls, we voted, and we elected a new government with a strong mandate to reset our sail in a new direction.
The four-week campaign has been described as the most bitter and divisive in the history of our province and pitted friends against friends, neighbours against neighbours as the warring parties fought furiously to tar each other with the brush of incompetence and prejudice.
They demonstrated that democracy is a blood sport and that no blow is considered to low to constitute foul play.
Winston Churchill said, “Many forms of government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried from time to time.”
One of the competing parties was so convinced that ugliness was the path to victory that its entire campaign made little mention of its record, instead directing all its energy into impugning the character and reputation of the leader of its main opposition party.
Our Own Neighbours
Our neighbors to the south continuously demonstrate the politics of polarization where anger towards and hatred of the other party have led to elected officials and party members being harassed in restaurants and citizens being assaulted and brutalized in the streets.
And we, traditionally polite and courteous Canadians, have chosen to adopt this stance as part of our political norm.
Although thus far, to my knowledge, we have not yet resorted to gratuitous violence.
Baruch Spinoza told us, “What Paul says about Peter, tells us more about Paul than about Peter.”
And I couldn’t agree more. Personally speaking, each commercial I watched, or statement I heard that was a personal attack on a politician from an opposing party served only to further devalue my opinion of the person/party voicing derogatory statements.
Political campaigns should be about healthy and vigorous debate, opposing viewpoints and, to me, the true character of a politician is demonstrated in the way by which they enthusiastically share their plan for brightening our future or whether their time and energy is spent trying to convince us of the unworthiness of their opponents.
It is time for all of us to throw our support behind our new government for if it succeeds, we all succeed and if it fails, we all pay the price.
That is not to say they get free reign. Our job as voters, and the job of the opposition is to hold government accountable, and if we Albertans, truly love and care for our province as much as we say we do, then it is time to unite in our resolve to once again make Alberta the envy of our country, and to do so by respectfully debating our differences while always seeking the best path forward for all our citizens.
It is said that everyone brings value even if only to serve as being a very good example of a very bad example.
Let’s Be Better
Let us resolve to never become as vehemently and violently polarized as our American neighbors and let’s use their bad example to inspire us to become a great example of how to use our differences as the driver that unites us all.
What say we give it a try?
Till we read again.