“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” — George Orwell
Oh, elections. Love to hate them, right? Even those passionate over politics can easily find themselves disillusioned with it all. Just this morning I found myself shaking my head over the latest political ‘gotcha.’
This time, the media bombshell wasn’t brown or black, but green. In an image posted on her party’s website, Green Party leader Elizabeth May had been holding a disposable, though biodegradable, coffee cup. Nothing wrong with it, right? Well, ‘someone’ on her team thought otherwise and later altered the image to show her cupping a reusable mug with a metal straw instead.
The last straw
Who are the great investigators uncovering such things, I wonder? Amazingly honed detective skill to the pettiest of levels. What triumph! Geesh! Is this really the level to which our elections have been brought to? Literally grasping at – and over – straws, of all things?
I get it, though. The core issue, of course, wasn’t the biodegradableness of the mug or the åfact that the photo-shopped-in straw could potentially last longer than a drug store-bought tube of ugly orange lipstick or possibly set the world afire setting a good example for Internet gazers. It was about honesty and integrity, a standard we seem to have raised trophy-high, not for ourselves, but for our elected officials.
There was a time we held no standards for those we selected to govern. Sneaking around and womanizing was almost celebrated in the Kennedy era. And boozing? Also expected. Anyone who’s ever been involved with an election in this fine province of ours knows the bar tab from any political soirée darn near equaled the provincial debt. Politicians were above the law, beyond reproach and societal rules did not apply.
And lying? It was accepted of and expected by, our politicians, often for our own good. Take the existence of a Party Whip, for instance, a position once held by our own Judy Foote. Its sole purpose is to enforce the lie that a caucus is in agreement to move votes forward in the House. Surely, it isn’t always the case that ‘everyone’ supports ‘everything.’
Hillary Clinton once admitted as much, sharing that she sometimes takes public positions that could be at odds with her personal beliefs. In essence, she lies. She isn’t the exception.
In politics, call a lie what you will; hypocrisy. Doublespeak. It’s simply a tool to be used for good, or for evil. A lie can be helpful for national security purposes, or harmful for personal gain.
Either way, like hovering extraterrestrials, the truth is out there and if someone is dogged enough, they’ll find it. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
While a photoshopped image of May’s straw or a high school drama teacher-turned Prime Minister’s Halloween costume wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, be their sole downfall, every politician needs to know that with every action comes this reminder; these days, there is always a proverbial straw out there big enough to break any camel’s back.