Politics as Service


A couple of days ago Belinda Stronach had an option piece suggesting that public service might be better as a term of service rather than a career. The comments were equally interesting — one suggested that politics is an art form requiring a lifetime of study (at the public expense one might note) to acquire the correctly nuanced skills. There may be some truth to that notion, but I digress.

The American Founding Fathers held a similar view — politics, or more precisely public service, was something that one engaged in after a successful life as planter, business man or military leader. One did their duty to the country and then retired. It is hard to see how someone coming to Ottawa or Washington for a few years would be motivated to cultivate a network of syncophants and campaign contributors in the manner that today’s career politicians do. And to some extent it really does bother me that the career politicians on both sides of the border seem to march to drums different than the apparent needs of the country. In the old days, as my father advised, one simply tried to vote for the person who would likely steal the least. But in the current atmosphere of disinformation and spin that kind of decision is getting harder than ever to make.

Personally, I would prefer a system where my lifetime of business experience solving real world problems could be put to work assisting my country. Or that any successful person could at least have the option to serve at the end of their careers. But the role or citizen-advisor is already filled with career pols and favored consultants with very little room for a concerned citizen.

So I continue to watch things go down the drain, in wonder as decision after decision is made for reasons that are quite opaque. But as one poster to the Stronach piece observed — politiicans are smart and their lifetime in the system gives them a viewpoint different from the rest of us. Problem is that I know and that makes it hard to sleep at night.

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