Thursday, April 13, 2017

Political balance

It must be a challenge to be a politician. I'm not being funny, I'm serious.

The biggest challenge politicians face, if they even bother to accept it, is having to balance the views and values of their constituents against their own views and values. Our Prime Minister got a taste of this balancing act lately when, after promising that the government would be reforming the electoral system from first-past-the-post to something more representative of the population, gave up after both not getting a consensus within government, and rejecting the idea of a referendum to help decide. I've actually written a Liberal MP asking for an explanation, and got one that explained why the decision was made. I don't necessarily agree with their conclusion, but at least I got a decent answer. The big picture problem is that the PM is placing his own fears, doubts and views over those of the populace. It seems that most Canadians don't really care about the doubts, they just want it done. After all, it was promised during the election and people took it to heart. It also seems that even if people can't agree on what the new electoral system should look like, almost everyone agrees, we need to pick something and try it. So what's a poor PM to do?

It doesn't end there. The balance that must be struck is actually between the politician, their constituents, and their party. If my MP is Conservative, and believes with all of their heart that government should take a certain stance on an issue, but their constituents don't feel that way, shouldn't the MP listen to the people? What if the point of view is that of the party, but not the majority of the people in that riding, and/or the MP themselves?

That's a hard question to answer. But I do believe there are some fundamental guidelines that politicians could follow to help make the decision. To start with, if an opinion or value is based on religion, then it should be discounted. Not every person in a party or a constituency shares the same religious values or beliefs, and some don't have any at all. So for someone to foist their values on others based on a belief system is unfair to say the least. The decisions that politicians make should satisfy one common requirement - it is respectful to the people.

I won't delve into more controversial topics as an example, but if we revisit the electoral reform topic, what path would be most respectful to the people? In my mind, that would be the path that gives more people a voice in government. And that, logically, is the reform that is most representative, even if it includes minority extremist views. I am firmly of the belief that when people are allowed to be heard, two things happen. The people speaking feel respected and their hostility diminishes. And the rest of us actually get to hear ideas that differ from our own.

Because only getting to hear 2 sides of an 8 sided concept doesn't provide enough information for creating solutions that last.

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