Except for Dave Hancock and Ed Stelmach it seems every other candidate is someone that more and more people are becoming increasingly afraid of for whatever reasons. Some reasons are legit and some are fabricated. If you believe some of the commentary in the blogosphere about the so called Dinning 14 Whoppers – even the fabricated reasons were “fabricated.” The conspiracy goes that his supporters are doing this to divert attention from “other issues” they “presumably” don’t want to be exposed. Smoke, mirrors and pockets full of petty mumblers is mostly what I am seeing. Politics by misdirection and misinformation! Pathetic isn’t it!
Will anyone emerge from the campaign pack with personal character, qualities and values that actually gets us engaged in thinking about the future possibilities and potential of Alberta for the benefit of all Albertans? Instead we see the emergence of the not entirely unjustifiable fear, in some cases, of some candidates who are self aggrandizing power-mongers, or narrow minded ideologues, presumptive and assumptive obvious winners, or the simply hapless and hopeless. Only Hancock and Stelmach appear to be above all this and seem to personally grasp the true essence of the leadership role in a representative democracy – that is of being the servant leader.
We campaign and govern by the systemic discouraging of debate, dialogue and informed dissent. Just go to the newspapers tomorrow and visit Garth Turner’s blog and see what happens to free speech and democratic discourse in regimes of centralized top down message controlling mean spirited leadership. We centralize power in party leaders and their entourage of unelected, faceless and yet enormously powerful political advisors. For the sake of efficiency in power politics we forsake citizenship and representative democracy as a consequence.
I am tired of the hypocrisy and the systemic self serving side of politics. I want someone who aspires to leadership who will give me a reason to believe again…not naively or pseudo-intellectually – but rather a sincere hopeful belief that is brimming with enthusiasm, curiosity, authenticity and imagination. I don’t expect some super human capacity as a precondition of leadership. I expect humility and human decency as my precondition for leadership.
I want someone to lead Alberta with a view beyond the next election cycle. Some one who can listen to gather information and opinion and then synthesize the information to make it useful and accessible to me. I want them bright enough that they can know enough about an issue and can explain it in context. I want someone who knows how to be reflective, thoughtful and is able to comprehend and evaluate alternative inputs and then come up with useful knowledge and some workable ideas.
Then I want someone with the wisdom to make profoundly important choices – not perfect choices - but who will be able to pick an alternative with sound reasons and actually know why they make the choices they do. Then I want them to feel obligated to explain the choices and reasons behind them to me and, if necessary, take the time to try to convince me that they have done the right thing and for the right reasons. For me the right reason includes doing the most good for the most people with the least damage to the environment while enhancing our social cohesion as a province and a country.
Then they have to be forceful enough and able to push and pull the levers of government to create a plan to achieve the objectives and have the skills to actually execute the plan. Is that too much to expect? It appears to be – but it better not be. Seeing what Harper has wrought in 8 months as pro tem Prime Minister and looking at giving someone 2 years of virtually total control over Alberta before they have to face an election means we best take this PC leadership selection process seriously.
Finally, we desperately need to attract a better quality of person into politics and have them come to serve for better reasons than merely gaining power. To get that better quality person we all need to start treating our quality elected people much better. A little respect would go along way, but only for those who deserve it, obviously. A little more trust and the benefit of the doubt would be nice for who consistently work to earn our respect. That would be nice too. I remember as a lawyer, virtually every time the phone rang it was going to be a dispute or problem. It wears on you after a while. I never recall anybody ever saying to me “Gosh, what a great day I’m having, I thought I’d call my lawyer.” I expect politicians feel much the same way.