Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trudeau is Popular Because People Like to Feel Good About Politics

Gerry Nicholls:

But the Trudeau fairy tale is one we desperately want to believe. We want to believe there’s a leader out there who can magically make the country a better place, who can unite us all regardless of race, region or hockey affiliation, who can rise above partisan political bickering, who will let us have our cake and eat it too.

We don’t want to pull back the curtain and see Trudeau for what he really is: a likable but inexperienced, gaffe-prone politician who is probably incapable of uttering anything beyond carefully rehearsed platitudes.

To do that would force us to face the ugly truth: that no matter who is prime minister, no matter which party is in charge, politics is a messy, tough, cynical, scandal-prone business that offers no clear cut or easy answers.

Who wants to contemplate that harshness when it’s so much easier, so much more satisfying to believe in Trudeau’s rainbows and lollipops agenda?

As Oscar Wilde put it, “illusion is the first of all pleasures.”

Consequently, Trudeau remains firmly atop his celebrity pedestal, because it gives us pleasure, meaning he has a good chance of becoming our next prime minister.

And in fairness, there are a lot of Kool-Aid drinkers on the right. A lot of Conservative party members who act like the election of a Conservative government inaugurates a long awaited utopia. And when the Conservatives don't balance the budget and don't free up the market, they still treat their party like the greatest thing ever.

Or people who think Rob Ford's crack-smoking wasn't really a problem, as if mayors are never "on call" 24/7.  Could you imagine what would have happened if Muslim terrorists had attacked Toronto during one of his drunken stupors?

Elections are important. Don't get me wrong.

But sometimes I think we invest so much in elections because it's actually easier than doing the cultural heavy lifting.

We'd virtually have to invent our own entertainment sub-culture, with all the painful failures that entails. Remember Canadian literature in the 1970s? We'd have to go through that, but in all fields.

Getting people to vote is easier, isn't it?

But unfortunately, it won't make the changes that are needed.

People do like to feel good when they do politics. (In fact, I'd say that's why Rob Ford was elected, as he made many feel good) As long as there's a right-wing cultural void, it'll be a lot harder to attract people  to right-wing policies.