Divide and rule, the politician cries; unite and lead, is watchword of the wise. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas. - Joseph Stalin
Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed. - Joseph Stalin
As I watch the leadership campaigns wind down for the PC Parties of Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta, I have to wonder if politicians have finally lost their grasp on any basic understanding of what leadership is all about (or if they have given up pretending that they had any grasp in the first place).
In my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, former Premier Danny Williams, in a move reminiscent of former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, systematically destroyed any leaders who might have had aspirations to compete against him for power. When Stalin needed leaders for military campaigns during World War II, he discovered that he had wiped out an entire generation of leadership necessary to lead his troops to victory.
By the same token, then Premier Williams gutted the PC Party of potential successors and then when he suddenly resigned, the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador was plunged into a death spiral, first with the failed Premiership of Kathy Dunderdale and the debacle that followed when Premier-designate Frank Coleman suddenly stepped down. Meanwhile, the leadership candidates currently competing for the title of “Last PC Premier For A Long Time” do little to evoke any form of confidence in much of the electorate.
Great leaders groom their successors, which didn’t happen in this case. The legacy of a great leader is in large part based on how well prepared and enabled their successors are.
In addition, the PC Party was not strategic or astute enough to see the problems that this strategy created and thus allowed the seeds of their death spiral to be planted.
Meanwhile, sitting ministers in the Newfoundland Government continue to resign as they recognize the gravy train (aka public service) is drying up for them.
Which brings me to the four types of politicians that are prevalent in today’s political spheres in Newfoundland and Labrador.
There are politicians who truly see their vocation to serve the people and do the best they can in this capacity. These are extremely rare in occurrence and need to be treasured when discovered.
There are the well-intentioned and the unqualified who step into politics with the intention to change the world but who are quickly brought into line by the bureaucrats, the real albeit non-elected power within government.
There are opportunists who jump into politics when the thoughts of certain election victories, nice pensions and the like are plentiful and easily obtained.
And then there are those who bail when the going gets tough for a political win - when said win needs to be fought in the trenches while the people that the opportunists claim to serve are crying out for solutions for the difficult challenges facing the province.
I wonder what word best describes the latter group.
Perhaps you have a suggestion.
Meanwhile in Alberta ….
In another amazing lesson in leadership, the leadership candidates are spending their time undercutting each other (some more than others) and frankly, by the time they are done tearing each other apart, I wonder if any of the leaders will be left untainted enough to lead or if the divided PC Party caucus can be rallied around the leader that survives the leadership selection process.
We are used to dirty political campaigns when different candidates tear each other apart but when the tearing apart is taking place within the same party, one cannot help but wonder if so much damage is being done that victory is being handed to another party in the next general election.
Organizations can support healthy, vigorous debate to choose a new leader but when those candidates within a single party are focused on discrediting others within the same party, they forget that they may be destroying the future of not only their opponent but themselves and the Party at large as well.
The Bottom Line
Not voting is not an option. I am a firm believer that in a democracy, the right to vote must always be exercised lest we lose that right. That being said, too many politicians appear to be intent on proving that not voting is better than voting for the lesser of many evils.
The way things are going right now, the PC Party may not offering much to choose from in either Newfoundland and Labrador or Alberta in the next general election. When the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador focused on destroying its leadership depth, they planted the seeds for their demise and are about to harvest the fruits of their labor. The Liberals will sweep to victory and the NDP will continue to wallow in whatever they wallow in.
Meanwhile in Alberta, it appears that the leadership candidates of the PC Party are still sowing the seeds of their own destruction. The crop they produce depends on how strategic, intelligent and opportunistic the other parties can be in the next general election.
I don’t know what’s worse – killing leadership candidates in advance or having the leadership candidates kill each other.
In either situation, if the PC Party expects voters to vote for them anyway, I wonder if they are expecting the voters to bring their own KY as well.
If nothing else, it will make voter penetration that much easier to accomplish.
That being said, no amount of KY is going to help if the voters resist the advances of the PC Party too much and the result will be much less pleasurable than desired by the PC Party or the electorate.
After all, there still needs to be some love in the end otherwise the people who need the love the most, the electorate, will be hurt the most instead.
I think we need better examples of leadership in a world hungry (desperate?) for strong, enabled, intelligent, selfless leaders.
What do you think?
In service and servanthood,
PS While I slagged the PC Party of the two provinces, I wonder if the other parties offer candidates or platforms worthy of replacing them or maybe all politicians are merely PR mouthpieces in front of the real people in power – the unelected bureaucrats whom we will never see.
Should we lower our expectations as low as possible to avoid disappointment?
I’m not certain - what do you think?
What I do know is that we need strategic, tactical, intelligent, unselfish leadership to solve many difficult problems right now on a provincial / state, federal and international level and that such leaders are becoming ever-increasingly difficult to find.
Here’s a small example of why this matters. According to data released on September 5th, 2014 by Stats Canada, the number of unemployed in Newfoundland and Labrador is up over 26% from the same point in 2013. In addition, there are over 58,000 people collecting E.I. and income support in the Province, producing an actual unemployment rate of over 22% when one considers a labor force of approximately 259,000 people. Those are pretty ugly numbers to me.
Factor in additional things such as the fact that Brent Crude oil prices are still tracking below what the Province needs in order to meet its budget requirements (as I explained in Newfoundland–Should We Just Shoot It And Put It Out Of Its Misery?) and the following questions come to mind:
- “Does strong, intelligent, strategic leadership exist anymore within the political sphere?”
- “Should we demand better of our political / government leaders (and if so, why don’t we)?”
- “Are today’s government challenges just too complex for anyone to solve?”.
Don’t ask me for my answers.
What are yours?