Perceptions skewed by our party system

How our perception turns winners into losers in politics.

Now that the bulk of the provincial election is over and done with (as we wait to hear about The Byelection), political columnists are pondering (because that’s what  they get paid for) the future of the NDP in British Columbia and whether their leader Adrian Dix should be replaced.

I have no opinion to share on whether the NDP need a new leader. But I do have an opinion on an increasing trend to replace the losers immediately, simply because losing looks bad. And in today’s glaring media spotlight, bad looks quickly transfer to everyone around them.

Welcome to the age where looks count for everything and even political leaders can be shown the exit almost as fast as a losing sports coach.

This tendancy of keeping up appearances for appearances sake may be part of the reason why politics lose their appeal for many people.

The majority of voters identify the party by its leader. Leaders stick around through good and bad times, showing their leadership especially during the bad times.

I can name several political leaders from decades ago: anyone my age will remember them because they were strong, respected long-term leaders. Even if their party kept “losing” elections.

In my view, you can’t lose an election. You can lose your seat, but not an election, because the government is made up of every single one of the elected MLAs, MPs, Councillors, etc. You don’t have to be part of the governing party in order to be part of the government. It’s usually the role of the opposition party to keep the governing party honest.

The leader of a party gives the public a personality to focus on, to identify with (or to vilify) while promoting the party’s goals.

We place so much emphasis on winning that we lose track of the other good qualities that individuals possess, and as far as government goes, we forget that everyone in the House of Parliament, provincial Legislature, Regional District boardroom, Band Office or Council Chambers has an equally important role to play in this thing we call Democracy.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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