I can tell you many things, but the one truth I will share with you today is………… This blogging thing is turning into a humbling experience for me.
I’ve been on Facebook this morning, and, of course, the great majority of comments that I’m receiving about my blog are from friends on Facebook. A very few from outside my Facebook circle, but then again, its early days so we’ll see.
Naturally, some of those friends are family, so they’re used to my yammering on about all things political in this and other countries. After all, I’ve never been shy about expressing a political opinion, and my family (immediate and extended) were always the first victims of my unfiltered opinions.
A fair number of my Facebook friends are “political friends” – some Progressive Conservatives, some Conservatives (and yes, here in Canada there is a difference) some Liberal (yes, I have many Liberal political friends) and some New Democratic friends (of which I have a few). If you spend your adult life working as a professional political organizer or as a professional political staffer, it is impossible not to make friends in all political circles. So, I have a goodly number of political friends of all political stripes, and I have nothing but respect for those who take an interest, or participate, in the political process. In today’s Social Media environment, and with our 24-hour news cycle, those of us who put ourselves out there to perform public service are fair game for all kinds of abuse, and it takes considerable courage to put your name on a ballot for public office. I don’t agree with my political friends in all things, all the time, but I have nothing but respect for them, no matter their political affiliation.
Another segment of my Facebook friends is really an extension of my political activity, I think. I mean I have worked (and moved my family to) Newfoundland, Ottawa, British Columbia and now Ontario, and I have been politically active throughout the years, but my family and I have always been lucky enough to be accepted into a host of different social and church circles, always making lifelong friends that I stay in touch with.
And, of course, there are my childhood friends that I’ve re-connected with on Facebook. In some ways, that’s been the most fun of all. Oh dear, to be back in high school, where all we had to worry about was who we were going to take to the dance this weekend, eh? Or when we’d get to play our next game of basketball.
I’m grateful for my friends, and I’m thankful that Facebook and other social media outlets have given me a platform to express an opinion. But it is humbling, and here’s why.
As I’ve mentioned repeatedly now, I’ve spent the whole of my adult life (or most of it, anyways) working in a political capacity, and politics is if nothing else a partisan, team sport. Everything that I have written over the years – speeches, press releases, policy positions, government White Papers – has been done for the benefit of the politician or government that I was working for. Some of my work was considered very good, some merely good enough, and some very bad (depending on the politician or election campaign that I was working for) but I was always working for someone else.
I’ve written speeches that I’ve poured my heart and soul into, but I have never given (that) a speech that would have advanced my personal political views. I’ve written press releases announcing government policy (or whatever), but that has always served different governments’ collective interests. The same can be said for policy position papers and the like. Everything is produced, announced, distributed, promoted and defended in a collective way, and that’s the way it must be in our democratic, parliamentary system of government.
So, what am I saying here? I’m saying that I’ve always been the team player, writing, advancing, announcing, promoting and defending political positions – some of which I believed wholeheartedly, some I believed most of but not all, some I believed were total BS but needed to go out anyways, and some of which I totally disagreed with. But in the best interests of the politician and/or government that I was working for at the time, it went out. Period.
And now, here I am, an older version of my much younger politically active self, and for the first time in my life I’m publishing my own words under my own name, and I must own every written word. I have nowhere to hide, and reaction to my blog has been mixed – mostly good, but some critical and damning. Never the less, I’m encouraged.
I will not pretend that I’ve had “hits” in the thousands. That would be an impressive lie, worthy of Donald Trump. But for someone who has 264 friends on Facebook, the response has been positive, and I am encouraged enough to keep going.
The most prominent question I’m receiving, repeatedly, is “How can you be objective?”
Well, perhaps I can’t be objective given my history, but I’m going to give it a try. I can tell you that I am no longer a card-carrying supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada. In simple terms, and sort of paraphrasing Ronald Regan referencing the Democratic Party in the US, I didn’t leave the Conservative Party of Canada as much as they left me. It seems to me that the new Conservative Party’s ideology has left me behind. I am no longer a Conservative, but nor am I a Liberal. If I had to describe myself right now, I would say that I’m an old-fashioned small l liberal democrat.
I no longer like to call myself a Conservative for several reasons, none of them attractive I’m sorry to say. Certainly, the rise of Donald Trump to the top of the political world and the Republican Party in the United States is a big factor for me. I am appalled with the political stupidity of the American people who support Trump and all that he has come to stand for. Where has the Party of Lincoln gone?
Conservative movements ALWAYS flow across the Canada/US border, and we are already experiencing some of the negative effects of Trumpism here in Canada. We are starting to feel an anti-immigrant sentiment; we are starting to see the beginnings of a negative blowback to the #MeToo movement; and I believe we are experiencing incidents of racism towards our Jewish, Muslim and Indigenous communities, but we are too politely Canadian to really call it racism. We prefer to call such racist happenings “isolated occurrences”. In other words, they happen, but we don’t really mean for them to happen.
So, I will continue to comment in what I consider to be an objective way, and I welcome your feedback in whatever form you wish to share. I will be responsive to your views, and I will be humbly apologetic for any offense I give. But humble I will be.
Above all else, thank you for your interest.