This past week both Canada and the United States marked the anniversaries of their founding. Amidst the celebrations, though, there are still notes that politicians on both sides of the border have lost their way. At the Stampede PM Harper decried the opposition for trying to hinder his ‘get tough on crime’ campaign — an odd point, that, because as far as I have seen putting a larger percentage of the population behind bars does little to reduce crime and nothing to reduce the cost of government. And Ignatief complained about the rather vicious attack ads the Conservatives have been running. Did anyone remember that the rising population of unemployed, the shrinking manufacturing sector and the crumbling public infrastructure are the real problems? How will any of this influence my vote and the vote of my neighbors? Well, if ‘none of the above’ is on the ballot I am sure it will win by a landslide.
On the other side of the border we have the spectacle of the Republicans working harder than ever to disrupt the Democrats attempts to rebuild the country. All the posturing against the idea of a single payer health care system is just pathetic. It is clear to many, the Prez and me for example, that rising costs will eventually destroy the country, and not that far in the future at that. The list of issues goes on but becomes boring in its repetition.
I think the central problem, if there is one, is that what happens down the road to us and our children is difficult for many if not most to conceptualize — so we seize on the little points that we can grasp. In either ‘The Peter Principle’ or perhaps ‘Parkinsons Law’ there was an example of a board meeting where a multi-million dollar project was discussed and approved in a few minutes but they debated the issue of a new five hundred dollar bike rack for hours. The point was that everyone could grasp the bike rack issue but the project was too abstract.
So too in government the problem is always leadership and patriotism to solve problems for the future good of the country and its citizens. But too often it becomes bogged down in petty bickering and mud slinging. The U.S. has done well in its new President and I am hopeful that some patriots in Congress will help the country move forwards to solve its problems and build a better tomorrow.
But in Canada I fear that building a better tomorrow is being left to chance and that the ‘true patriots’ are just words in a song, not people of vision and leadership.