Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why Alberta Political Parties Remind Me Of My Old Girlfriend

If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics. - Will Rogers

There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you. - Will Rogers

I once had a girlfriend with whom many conversations often went like this:

What would you like for dinner?
Anything is fine.
Eat in or eat out?
It’s all good.
Ok. Let’s go out. What would you like?
Whatever you want.
Not in the mood.
Not really.
Fast food?
Too greasy.
So what would YOU like to eat?
Anything is fine – whatever you want.

I could never tell if she didn’t know what she wanted or just didn’t know how to communicate what she wanted and as a result, I eventually clearly articulated what I didn’t want.

Being Unable Or Unwilling To Offer Solutions

Watching the Wildrose Party this week reminds me of that old girlfriend as the Alberta Legislature once again resumed sitting.  After the Speech from the Throne was delivered, the Wildrose Party tweeted this message:

Wildrose Tweet

Intrigued, I followed the link to this press release (click to see a larger image):

Wildrose Party

It says absolutely nothing about what they like or how to make things better – just what they don’t like.  If you ask them about the strategy behind this approach, they will tell you that they don’t want to give solutions to “the other side”. Yeah – right.  They were elected to serve their constituents first and maybe then their party, not the other way around.

Along a similar vein, when Wildrose MLA Heather Forsyth outlined her concerns about Premier Redford’s family care clinic model, she noted the following (click to see a larger image):

Wildrose Party

This quote stands out:

“Once again this government is pushing ahead on health care decisions with no consultation from communities or health care professionals,” Forsyth said. “Now that it’s clear that something is broken, it’s up to Redford to fix it. When half of the doctors abruptly quit, it should send a message to the government. Things just aren’t working.”

Again, it says nothing about producing a solution and merely complains that things aren’t working without offering anyone any insight into what would work better.

Sadly this is the role of an opposition party.

Opposition parties in democracies have become less of something that offers a better solution than what a government has and more of something that merely complains, gripes and nit-picks about what they don’t like.  It doesn’t exist to solve the problems of the people but rather to establish a message that carries the opposition party into power.  You, the voter, and your needs don’t matter.

Sadly, the average voter falls for such ploys and dutifully elects opposition parties into the role of government based entirely on the opposition party’s ability to say what is wrong without offering any iota of what is right.

Is it any wonder that with each successive government in the world, debts and deficits grow larger, world peace becomes more elusive and solutions to poverty, climate change, health care and other areas of concern continue to wait for someone with the courage to solve them?

The Bottom Line

When Will Rogers noted that “A fool and his money are soon elected.”, I wonder who the bigger fool is - the person who plays on the feelings of others without offering any kind of measurable solution or the person who elects them anyway.

I think our history books have an answer to this question.  But then again, there don’t appear to be many informed historians circulating through the electorate these days.

In fairness, it’s not all on the opposition ….

Sometimes the fool may not be the political wannabe who misleads with vague promises or emotion-laden rhetoric but in fact may be the incumbent (or incompetent strategy and/or communication “experts” advising the incumbent) who don’t know how to communicate success or whose ego is a run-away train.

Most of the communication experts I see who are active within the Alberta political scene across all of the parties should be fired or retired for being unable to communicate anything effectively, whether it’s spreading good news or countering bad news. 

It is up to those “experts” to manage public perception of optics as generated by their “client”, no matter how intelligent or stupid, ego-filled or humble, their clients are.  If these experts are not smart enough to get it done, then the incumbent (or their party) have to be smart enough to correct the issue.

It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are,
how pretty you are or
what results you think you have created.

Optics and voter perception are about
how you touched the heart of the voters
in order to influence their mind …
and their ballot.

As with the case with my old girlfriend, if you want a relationship that lasts (whether it’s a new one or a long-standing one), you need to tell me more of what you like, be clear, forthright and articulate about it and moan less about what you don’t like.

Otherwise, just like my old girlfriend, I won’t take you seriously either.

Fortunately for the politicians, most voters don’t think this deeply about who they are voting for.

I wish they did.

How about you?

In service and servanthood,


PS A little fun from the good people at Despair.com.

Despair - Government

Addendum – March 5, 2014

While I was referring to politicians in my blog post, the same holds true for the supporters, followers and minions of those politicians.  As an example, this apparent Wildrose Party supporter tweeted the following in voicing his intent to prove my post wrong:

Scott Chapman tweet

In response to my wish for him to create a great day in the service of others, he concluded our dialog with this final tweet:

Scott Chapman tweet

Four claims that I am lying with nothing else offered of substance or value outside of a personal attack on my character is disappointing.

My blog post suggests that a significant issue in politics is that people rely on vagueness, misdirection and avoidance of specifics in order to counter the problem that clarity, data and facts introduce.  Many people in such situations have nothing to fall back upon outside of taunting, bullying, name calling and the like in order to drive their agenda.

When one wishes to refute the assertion that specific solutions are intentionally avoided, the best way to successfully accomplish this is to bring facts and data to the table.  Weak responses such as “stop lying” (without backing up the request with data) merely reinforce my assertion instead of accomplishing the desired intention of disproving it.

How can we expect specifics from our elected representatives when we are unable or unwilling to provide the same (and vice versa)? 

As for the person above who shared his views, the inability to differentiate between an opinion post and a statement of fact and the inability to discuss or debate appropriately is a reflection of where societal dialog is not functioning at levels necessary for societal improvement – a useful fact for politicians who have few facts themselves.

Addendum – Closing Thoughts - March 5, 2014

I offered the person noted previously an opportunity to counter my assertions with evidence or facts and if I received them, I would amend this blog post appropriately.  My request was rejected with the notion that he should not have to prove I was a liar.

The defense rests. :-)