Realpolitiks with . . .
When they’re in office, politicians seem to speak in rhetorical redundancies that might not make sense, but it’s time we stop and actually listen to what they say.
When I was a young kid I used to think of a politician as a super important job and it took a special kind of person to take up the leadership of a country.
Now when I watch politics all I see are two people in suits yelling at each other with their fingers in theirs ears.
They do it all the time as well; like when Stephen Harper stood up in Parliament against Libby Davies for her support of Palestine, or when MP Abel Leblanc blew up in the House over slanderous remarks made about his colleagues.
My favourite is the recent attack ad against the Winnipeg mayor: “Sam Katz: he kicks children in the face.”
Every time a politician decides to belittle their opponent in an advertisement or in Parliament, it’s called an ‘argumentum ad hominem’ or the argument against the man.
The way it works is if you discredit a person’s character, then their political ideals will inevitably be discredited as well.
It is especially easy while you are on the floor of the House to attack opponents, because you’re allowed to say pretty much whatever you want about someone while you have the floor.
In essence, it’s easier to say your opponent likes to club baby seals than to tear apart his policy reforms because most people don’t really care about the politics; they do care about baby seals, though.
Canadian politics might be a little childish at times, but I am truly thankful I don’t live south of the border.
American politics reminds me of Jersey Shore; nobody likes it yet it still gets major attention on TV. It’s become a full-blown circus of attack ads and useless rhetoric, and the American people love it.
When I saw the Tom Campbell ‘demon sheep’ ad, I couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it was. Then I realized there were going to be people who took it seriously, and it scared the daylights out of me.
Politicians have to understand what they say has an effect on people.
After all, we did elect them to represent us. People might believe Sarah Palin had nothing to do with the Arizona shooting and her attack map was merely coincidence, but that’s like saying Bush had nothing to do with torture; I’m sure he didn’t intend to harm anyone, but he still gave it his stamp of approval without any forethought of what was to come.
Rudyard Kipling once said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” and I wholeheartedly agree with him.
People become mesmerized by the promises of the campaigns and the drama between the two parties, but it’s all just a show.
A job in politics is just that, a job. They’re able to sit down at the same table together and have a beer at the end of the day because they’re still like you or I.
The only reason politicians continue the ad hominems against each other is because they bring in the most votes, so it’s up to us to say enough is enough. We need to start seeing them as equals instead of leaders, because a democracy is led by the people.
Kevin Penny is a 21-year-old, second-year journalism student at Grant MacEwan University. As a tenderfoot journalist, he looks to give some straight sense in the world of politics by defending truth, justice and the freedom of choice.
In the aftermath of the Arizona tragedy where several Arizona citizens including US congresswomen Gabriel Giffords, were allegedly attacked by Jared Loughner, political pundits primarily from the left, have been calling for a change in the tone of our political discourse.
In connection to this, some pundits have advocated that political operatives and candidates be held accountable for the rhetorical comments they make while on the campaign trail. This is sensible when it comes to policy accountability but sadly this is not the case in this situation.
This of course, is tied directly to the nonsensical accusation that Sarah Palin was responsible for the shooting because her website had a target over congresswomen Giffords’ district. The target was placed not to incite violence towards Giffords, but because Giffords was vulnerable to lose her seat over the health care bill. Yet some media and politicians have attempted to show that Palin somehow provoked a wild man to take up arms and kill several innocent people.
While the Arizona shooting is a tragedy, a political tragedy is also taking place with the outlandish charges that political rhetoric during the 2010 midterm elections and Sarah Palin have a connection to Loughner’s actions. Yet the cries for civility in both the United States and Canada’s political arena’s have been loud.
Civil debate between politicians should be expected and encouraged by a country’s electorate, but a problem arises when civil debate and political accountability are confused with a politician being overly partisan and too passionate in his or her arguments.
Politicians from all political stripes should always be encouraged to work together on policy when the possibility arises. This is especially true in a situation like Canada’s minority federal government.
It is common decency to show respect while discussing politics but what is not healthy for a democracy is when calls are made for principle driven ideas to be eliminated.
When pundits and politicians start lambasting officials and parties for being too ideological or partisan there is an issue. Watering down ideas and opinions in national discussions does not bring about the best policies and decision making from our governments.
Rather, it is through thorough and rigorous debate, with multiple opinions being presented that the best ideas come forward. Like in a market, the elimination of fringe ideas can occur and democratic societies can maintain an even keel, not swaying to far one way or the other.
While politicians should be held accountable for what is said while campaigning and in office, society should not blame vigorous political competition for the result of tragedies that are clearly the result of mental issues and not principles.
Politics in itself is a passionate battle, one that can be carried out in a civil tone.
However politics should be an exciting battle of ideas, strategy and philosophies so that the electorate has options when making their ballot box decisions.
Mitchell Cooper is a 22-year-old, third-year Grant MacEwan University political science student with ambitions to attend law school. He’s worked two years in government, and on several political campaigns. He hopes to have the privilege of holding public office one day.