Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Past Deadline: Drinking Beer with the PM

I debated long and hard about whether to drive the old Armchair Express™ around the block one more time before the election.

When is the federal election again? Oh, yeah. Next week. And then possibly again in a few months.

Anyway, I couldn’t let this week go by without some sort of rambling ramble about the goings on.

I thought a really good place to start this edition of the Armchair Express™ would be by asking a pertinent question. Which of the leaders would you like to have a beer with if he or she were prime minister?

Because yes, sadly, it seems to have come to this.

Here’s another question. Can anyone tell me what the issues are that we are supposed to be considering? Or who is promising what? I’m just wondering if we’re all keeping track.

Sure – the parties are all talking about the economy and health care and education. We’re getting promises for families, businesses and corporations. We’re hearing about new taxes and old taxes and no taxes and social programs and balancing budgets. Environment? Not so much. Certainly not in a carbon tax kinda way this time.

But what this election really seems to be about is things like parliamentary procedure, contempt of parliament, integrity, coalitions and How to Form a Government 101. All related to this is stuff like who is allowed to attend rallies, who is getting kicked out, who is using a teleprompter, who is not and who is allowed to speak to the leaders.

Which, I suppose, all comes back to the beer question.

Although it would be nifty to be able to hang with the PM and have a chatty beer, is that really what we are looking for in a leader? Sure, it’s important for a leader to be able to communicate on a variety of levels in order to reach all audiences, but I’d rather he or she be working at important running-the-country things than sitting around and making me feel comfortable over a beer.

Elections, unfortunately, are as much about optics and personalities and spin as they are about issues. The leader who can successfully convince the population that he or she can manage the important issues facing our country in terms of economy and environment and health care and education (not necessarily in that order and, arguably, all of equal and interlinked importance) while having a beer with us, is probably going to be the winner.

And he may or may not be sporting a cane while doing it.

Which brings me to one of the most interesting things that has come out of this election campaign – the rise of the NDP. Look at Jack Layton go! On the weekend he had risen to second place in the polls (which are for dogs, I know).

This, of course, gets a lot of different people excited. There’s one statistician who is frequently called upon for comment on the late news who I think has gone through a transformation since the NDP began to climb in the polls.

When the campaign started this guy looked pretty bored while talking about all the numbers, which seemed a little strange since that’s his gig. Now, however, he’s all smiley and keen as he talks about the shifts that are taking place here and there. I suspect it makes the math more interesting.

And what math it is – because even though a whole bunch of people may have decided they really like Jack and that they never want to drink beer with Steve, that could very well mean they will have drink beer with Steve anyway.

In fact, our system is such that even though most people don’t want to drink beer with Steve, if they can’t decide between drinking beer with Jack or Iggy, then they’ll be hanging out on the patio with Steve and even more Harperites than before.

I picture everyone silently drinking beer (because Steve doesn’t like his people to talk to anyone), until he comes along to play the piano and sing a song.

All this while the other band, Reckless Coalition™, packs up its gear and trudges off.


I don’t even like beer, by the way.

Published in The Perth Courier, April 28/11.

No comments: