Hey, why no better candidates!
With three big elections heading our way, political conversations are everywhere. Two common topics: why don’t we have better people in elected office? And why don’t we have better people running for office? (Excepting our local deputies.)
Both questions share a few things: first, both candidates and deputies are members of parties. As for deputies, well, they don’t represent us (as in “advocate for’ or “put first”) as much as represent their party to us, and only incidentally on our behalf. Our political system has created these dictatorial entities (parties, I’d say, are democracy’s big cancer). I think we’d all hyperventilate if our MP or MNA were to publicly cross his party on an issue crucial to us. That’s not criticizing them; that’s how the system works.
Parties serve so many functional purposes that what could replace them? Parties have evolved to fill needs. What would fill those needs?
However, the question of better candidates is different entirely. The reasons why we don’t have more capable people running are much more mundane.
Assume you’re considering running. You’d do the math – a family to support, bills, your job within your family. (Who does it when you’re stuck in Quebec City or Ottawa?) Your employment. You give notice before the campaign even begins, and that tells your employer you’re not as committed to the job as had once seemed.
So you work it out with your spouse/sweetheart, family and others, give your notice, hopefully get a leave-of-absence, and start learning the ropes. You beg and borrow money from institutions, family, friends, and your kids. “This isn’t the real me,” you tell them.
You win the nomination! You’re excited, exhausted, but now the race begins. Your life is public. No skeletons? No nasty ex-partner? Maybe a prostitute who soiled a bed for you, all hushed up, but you’re nervous. Your funds are evaporating! No sleep, no romance, no ten minutes for a sunset. You get a cold, swore at, chased by dogs, chased by the romantically inclined, preached at, insulted, pontificated at (editorial-writers the worst), and, by gar, you win!
Two weeks, maybe, of glory. The papers want your photo, comment, your Faceplant posting’s actually read. Then you begin the long race -- before you have to do all this again.
The pay looked good, but the hours, visibility, debts, expenses, my God, the expenses! End of the year, you have less than on your old job.
For four years, everyone says you’re wonderful, but would you mind doing things differently? You get lists every day. Your staff gets crabby. The media hires robot-interviewers. You get to a briefing with a grocery list, not briefing papers. You sleep in airports, office couches. You hate stiff shoes. You hate shoes. You have a dream of living on a desert island and loving it.
That’s the start ... and you, my friend, wonder why we don’t have “better” candidates? Listen, they’re wondering why they don’t have a better public, one actually informed.