The Three Stages of the Politician

Political Joke of the week has to go to Christie Clark, Premier of B. C. Without thinking much about it (when did she ever?) she decided it would be a cute idea to spend $150,000 of the people’s money to close the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver for a mass “yoga-in” for the International Day of Yoga.
Fair enough, except:

1. It’s a political hot potato. The Vancouver civic government has taken a lot of heat lately for closing car lanes on that bridge for cyclists and, most recently, pedestrians. Closing it for anything else is the last thing they would want. Of course, Christie Biscuit didn’t bother to ask them before she acted.
2. She neglected to check her calendar. The same day is First Nations day across Canada. Besides the possibility of offence being taken at a time when government-to-government relations with these nations is particularly wobbly, there is also the thought that such a media spectacle might be a perfect venue for the more radical to stage a protest.
3. When she got pushback in the media, she made a really silly joke about “Tae Kwan Do” day – possibly offensive to Tae Kwan Do people – which she then had to explain. She really needs to get a speechwriter. And then speak what he writes, not what comes to the top of her head.
4. Her final word on the matter was that “This has got too political. I’m having nothing to do with it.” If you can’t take the heat in the kitchen, then don’t light the stove, lady. You’re supposed to be the top politician in the province. You’re paid the big bucks to be able to take the political heat. There is an inferred expectation that you won’t cause a conflagration by mistake.

Apropos of nothing, the other night my wife, Linda, and I were watching Phryne Fisher, Lady Detective, on TV. Watching the leading lady led me to remark what life would be like dealing with someone who was that conscious of how cute she was. ‘Nuff said on that.

Back to our topic, which was leading me to muse that certain politicians can stay in power too long. How does this happen?

The Life of a Political Politician

In order to try for the top, you must have the ego to tell you that you know better than anyone else. This is the primary requirement for the job, but it must go hand-in-hand with an overwhelming desire to win, to stand at the podium of He (or She) Who Speaks Truth, the One who tells everyone What to Do. The clash between these two qualities is going to be your main problem for all your political life.

Step One: to Attain Power.
At the beginning you must suppress the ego at all costs. Keep up a cooperative, collaborative political front instead, so people will elect you. The desire to stand at the Podium of the Speaker must be encouraged to overwhelm your natural desire to say and do what you want to, because you know it is Right. When you are trying to get elected, saying what you really think is Very Wrong.

Step Two: Maintain Power
Once you have achieved power, you think you can relax the political persona, but you discover you can’t. You must keep control of your ego in order to stay in power. Thus for all your time in office, the stress of keeping up a political front, bolstered by your desire to keep winning, battles your desire to just let loose and do what you know is Right.

Step Three: Fail to Retain Power
After you have been in power too long, the stress wears away your control; the desire to win begins to wane. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is the gradual feeling that you can do no wrong. After all, here you are, still standing here, clutching the Podium of He Who Knows in both hands, in spite of the lies, the cheating, the bullying, the ignorance and the mistakes. This is your old friend the politician’s ego tapping you on the shoulder, reminding you that you can do no wrong. So you might as well do what you want to. Why not?

The Not-so-Grand Finale
So you start doing stupider and stupider things, speaking off script, flying by the seat of your pants, alienating party members and voters, and risking everything. This is a good thing, because by this time you aren’t fit to be leading anyway. You are a detriment to both your party and your constituents, and some of the things you say are a disgrace to the Podium where you stand. The best thing you can do now is resign and let someone who has a little more self-control take his chance. Of course, you never do, because that old desire to be at the top far outweighs any other consideration. So you hold on until you are dragged, kicking and screaming, your fingernails clawing scratches in the Speaker’s Podium, overlaying the scratches left behind by all your predecessors.

I think it’s time someone put in a call to the carpenters at several levels of our government, telling them to stock up on sandpaper and varnish. It’s so much more civilized than sharpening the daggers.

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