Thursday, September 27, 2007

Evolving from Old-Fashioned Politics and Attitudes

Having a strong, vocal, analytical, constructive opposition should ideally be a positive thing for a governing party. In fact, it should be desired by them. Let's dream in technicolor and imagine that we have evolved to a mature standard, where having a "wonderfully large" majority is not seen by the majority party, as an ideal governance structure for a province, but rather, as making them more prone to err, and rule recklessly.

For example, a government of 48-0 or 46-2 puts all the pressure on the majority governing party to be correct on all the big issues and developments facing the province. When there is a huge majority with very little oppoistion, what can follow is an outward attitude of pomposity, and an attitude of appearing falsely and misleadingly confident. That is old-fashioned politics. It's time to transcend the idea that once you're the government, you're right.

There may also be the short-sighted attitude that "we are so powerful with so any MHAs in government, that whatever we say, goes... and we will be seen as being correct in every decision until such time, and after much historical digging has taken place, that we will already have been lifted to a pedestal from the accolades of the people."

Certainly each party leader will wish that their party's candidates, whom they would have befriended, will, just because of being human, want that candidate to get elected.

Unfortunately, there has to be unsuccessful candidates in elections. Let's hope that - well it's simply going to be Danny Williams this time again, that he and the PC party, hope that there is a strong and constructive opposition. Why? To make the government think twice on issues, to offer different perspectives on proposed deals, to question government initiatives, and policies, to suggest alternatives, to simply criticize for the sake of doing what's right for the province.

Objectively looking at opposing party's perspective, and accepting that wisdom can come from any wise person, should give the governing party more confidence to sign deals, that is, when doubt subsides, and rational deliberation has lead to a stronger consensus among all parties.

The evolved political attitude towards an opposition party should be one where, they are seen not as an opposing hockey team competing for the annual cup, but a group of constructive and necessarily critical watchdogs, who are appreciated (albeit likely to be on the q.t.), by a thankful governing body, to have a second set of eyes, opinions, information, and options.

Craig Westcott on CBC's Here & Now last evening, also suggested that a government without any opposition can be dangerous. Absolute power can and unfortunately do corrupt. There can very well be a false sense of bullet-proof righteousness when there is no one in opposing positions to take shots (and not insulting shots, but shots aimed to help immunize the province from missteps). To err is human. Being human, people also do not like to admit it when they do, so they will swagger as if their position was infallible - that is old-fashioned politics, just like the deceit in the spending scandal is an old-fashioned tradition. Now that that Pandora's box has been opened, future politicians will hopefully learn, evolve, and transcend that tradition.

A government which possesses a more evolved political attitude ought to be thankful to have a strong oppositon so that there is a rational, objective, and a comprehensive analysis of major developments and financial deals, before dotted lines are signed.

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