I don’t let politics get on my blog much. Once in awhile I might let go a little rant on this space, because in real life I have strong opinions about social and political concerns, and everyone who knows me knows pretty much what my stand on things is. That stand hasn’t changed much in the 40 or so years since I started to pay attention.
But I decided a long time ago that this space isn’t going to be about people I don’t like. And I’m sorry to say, I don’t like most politicians, and I sure as hell don’t like what politics has become.
Public service is an honourable calling. Politicking turned it ugly. These days you rarely see an elite politician behaving honourably; it’s all about the win. Politics has become a tool of power, and those who get it will do anything to hang on to it, even if it means fucking over the people who have hired them to govern. The recent debacle over the debt ceiling in the US is a spectacular example of that.
For one day here at home today it wasn’t ugly. Today politicians of all stripes and people of all beliefs mourned the loss of Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, who died of cancer early this morning. Despite that he looked emaciated and weak last time he showed up on TV a month ago, everyone was shocked.
Jack was widely liked and respected for his principles and determination. He was fearless and unrelenting in his message and people were inspired by that. You never felt like he was playing you. Don’t think this popularity came up in his death; in the past four years, he took a party that clung to a few measly seats, hanging on the brink of irrelevance, to one that swept past the most dominant party in our history to become the official opposition for the first time in history.
Jack made us remember people like Tommy Douglas and Ed Broadbent and how they connected to people; he made us look past the conservative rhetoric and think “well yeah, it CAN be done.” Jack made us remember that it was the NDP that shaped a large part of who we believe we are. He was another feisty NDP leader who rose up out of seemingly nothing against the bigger, older, louder, more moneyed old school parties. The right and extreme right parties in this country might have merged their money and forces and won a majority, but we yeah we also got an opposition with balls to keep them in check. We sure felt a lot better than we would have if the lamo liberals had taken that spot.
This afternoon my dear New York pal Sheryl posted on my facebook: “I wish we had more like him here.” I replied that I thought it was sad that politicians who actually inspire people are rare anywhere.
Jack’s not getting on my blog because he’s dead. He’s getting on my blog because of the message he left with Canadians in life, and in a letter he wrote in these last dying days:
“…consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
That’s the kind of political messaging that gets on my blog.
Now go say something nice to your neighbour.
(A country coming together to celebrate a true public servant and inspiring leader: beautiful thing number fifty nine.)