The election results are in and we can now try to shake the hangover of the non-stop political indignation and accusations that characterized our federal election campaign.
It was an election that Justin Trudeau described as the dirtiest, nastiest campaign ever, rife with disinformation (that’s the political word for lies).
Andrew Scheer railed against the Liberals, warning of higher taxes, fewer jobs, and less money in everyone’s pockets. The Liberals raised the social cost of a Conservative government, painting it with the brush of racism, intolerance, and greed.
In truth, neither of those parties managed to escape unscathed by accusations of racism, dishonesty and just plain meanness.
In the latter days of the campaign, as polls started fraying the nerves of the party elites, both parties turned their attention to the NDP, alternating between open threats and mealy-mouthed cajoling in anticipation of a minority government.
And the NDP was certainly not blameless. It took to attacking the Green Party with accusations that the Greens would “sell-out” to the Conservatives.
It was more than a little tiresome. Exhausting, really.
And, if that wasn’t fatiguing enough, smoke from the American political dumpster fire continued to blow over the border, threatening to spread the xenophobic lunacy of the U.S.’s executive branch to our own body politic. The overt nationalism of the People’s Party served as the canary in the coal mine in that regard.
But besides being tiresome, the degradation of the standards of behavior in politics presents another, very real danger. It breeds a cynicism that, if embraced, runs the risk of having us believe that all politicians are the same; changing once they take office.
Charles DeGaulle encapsulated that phenomenon when he observed that “In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant”.
But that isn’t always true. It’s frequently not.
That’s where the electorate has a responsibility.
Once the election hangover fades, our work really just begins. It’s our job to pay attention to the candidates who are now in power and watch, not just what they say, but what they do and how they vote.
We need to sort out the public servants from the self-serving politicians.
Any MP who, having extolled his or her concern about an issue then votes to exacerbate that same issue should be called out for that hypocrisy, loudly and often.
Next election, they should be shown the curb.