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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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Dearth of leaders doesn’t bode well given the way we vote

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Steve Kannon
Steve Kannonhttps://www.observerxtra.com
A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

Much of the bloom is off the rose where Justin Trudeau is concerned. Much of that is of his own doing, issues that go beyond the much-ado-about-nothing blackface mock scandal. There are far more serious concerns about reversing course on electoral reform, rampant spending and business-as-usual corruption such as the SNC Lavalin affair, which is an actual scandal.

Luckily for Trudeau – but not the Canadian electorate – none of the other parties and leaders is exciting the imagination of voters.

We suffer from a dearth of good leaders. Even passable ones.

That’s true from the federal government right on down to the local level.

This is not about charisma or the ability to give rousing speeches – think of former U.S. president Barack Obama, for instance, who was brilliant at that, but he was a poor leader because he and his party betrayed the grassroots movement that first got him elected, though the period looks much better by comparison to the current occupant of the White house. No, proper governance means looking out for the public good rather than the interests of the a few, whether that’s the donors, the lobbyists or the self-serving politicians and bureaucrats themselves.

Trudeau hasn’t managed to turn his initial popularity into anything more than photo ops, platitudes, an endless string of apologies and spending designed to buy votes from a gullible populace. And that without the obstructionist political system in the U.S.

He, like all the other party leaders, is busy flinging poop, hoping for something, anything to stick. Unfortunately, instead of dismissing all of it as useless vote-buying nonsense, we give credence to the endless stream of promises, half-truths and blatant lies.

The result? We end up with much less than we deserve, in part because we like to think we make intellectual choices, using our brains, but invariably default to our guts and our hearts.

That’s not to say our impressions aren’t important. We want politicians with real messages that resonate with us. Then there’s the beer test: who could we see ourselves sitting down and having an enjoyable conversation with?

That also presents something of a conflict, in that we want our purported leaders to be better than us on some level, but not act as though they are. When politicians routinely act like they know better than us, that really gets our collective goat. Worse still, they start to believe that they are better than those they govern.

It’s an imperious attitude – and actions that show flagrant disregard for the public good, as we’re seeing now from most governments – that has historically led us to be perfectly fine with watching leaders get what they deserve, often with extreme prejudice.

A revolutionary spirit – the willingness to do away with those who have lost any moral claim to power, despite attempt to hold it by force (see the rise of today’s police state here and in other countries) – that defines our modern democracy. Only that kind of grassroots movement is likely to affect any real change.

Sure, things are much worse elsewhere, including in the United States, but we’re not immune to the unresponsive governance that shows callous disregard for the public good and consistently poor decisions federally, provincially and regionally.

It’s important to remember that democracy is not the default situation – it was hard fought, and we’re very much guilty of letting it slip away.

The current campaign hasn’t generated much interest, but there’s no reason to be complacent. The candidates may not want to talk about real issues – and they definitely don’t want to talk about their own shortcomings and lack of ideas – but that’s no reason not to get informed. Nor to vote on something more than the party line.

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