C Shannon

Great Expectations

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The words “there is no greater burden than great potential” have been in the Anglo-Geist for some time thanks to German-American Cartoonist, Charles Schulz. I would like to adapt them for my own purposes: there is no greater burden than great expectations. Politicians often build up their personal myth by promising revolutions. “All that you hate in this government will be swept away, if you but elect me!” Such is our desire for a tomorrow better than today that we start to believe these impossible promises. It shouldn’t surprise the solution to all of our problems isn’t a simple fix that the previous regime was too stupid, malicious or incompetent to implement, and yet when the case turns out, to borrow from the Who, that the new boss is the same as the old boss, often many are taken aback. The champions of their hope become the recipients of their ire as disillusionment takes hold and transmutes their convictions to feelings of betrayal. It is dangerous, politically to promise when there exists a disparity between one’s ambition and ability.

Such a disparity exists for Canada’s “social media” prime minister, Justin Trudeau. In the election, Trudeau promised a break from hard-nosed Conservative realism and a return to the mythic days of Canadian liberal internationalism; it was to be peace-keeping, social democracy and open government from here out. Like the fictional Prime Minister (then fictional minister of the fictional department of administrative affairs), Jim Hacker, open government and the idea thereof was the first to go. The sitting Liberal government has been significantly less responsive to requests for access to information than the government they vilified for too tightly controlling information. Their promises to help refuges have been dramatically underwhelming and under their projected number of refugees and over the projected costs and timetable. Their economic policy has significant discrepancies, drawing many questioning sidewards glances from independent observers. For a government who sold their cabinet as a technocratic appointment of talent, in an attempt to distance themselves from patronage politics of their predecessors, the inability to create effective policy is a telling condemnation.

The appointment of the cabinet was one in a series of publicity stunts designed to wow the voters. The cabinet was only superficially technocratic and has been revealed to be largely inept. The sitting government was very good at winning the election, but as an administration it leaves much to be desired. I scarcely imagine they will be asked to form another government, unless the political landscape in Canada remains in its current state: devoid of any appreciable talent. Had the opposition any sense, they would focus on the policies of the sitting government rather than this farce of a scandal referred to as Canada’s “Italian football” moment (Sorry Italy). We all know the sitting Prime Minister of Canada is not a bright man; he is a pretty man, he is a charming man, but intelligent? He is not. He own party all but acknowledges this because they actually arranged a publicity stunt to prove that he is not an imbecile. However, despite this he continues to cast shadows of doubt on his intelligence. An intelligent man probably wouldn’t have thought it was a smart idea as the face of his government and the sitting Prime Minister to lay a hand on another member of parliament. I have no doubt that his “manhandling” of the Conservative whip and his “elbowing” the NDP MP were completely innocent. Though innocent, the weren’t intelligent. The all style and no substance approach of the government has strained its relationship to the electorate.

The should be a lesson to all who promise the world to the public; not all countries are as placid as Canada. Whether you’re a Le Pen or a Farage, if you are unable to deliver on your promises, then expect those who hoist you up to tear you down. This should be a warning to all who, in their frustration, turn to desperation; men and women will lie to you for power. The only defence is to remember Immanuel Kant: get as much information as you can and use this information to think independently about whatever issue lies ahead. If something seems too good or people dodge your questions, then something is generally amiss. Sapere Aude.

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