Now that the bizarre Circus of the Absurd that passes for our local and national elections is over, it is time for newly elected politicians to put their words into action, and finally live up to the haughty promises that flowed so freely during the thrust and parry of the campaign season.
To assist that goal, there are several freshmen politicians who are busy assembling their coterie of informal advisors – often known as a ‘kitchen cabinet’ – a trusted ingroup of counselors, guides, and advice-givers to help them navigate the perilous nexus of politics and governance.
Those who can help them determine what is possible, and, more importantly, what is not.
I know this, because a few of our well-meaning chosen ones have invited me to enter their inner circle and offer my less-than-Solomonic wisdom on the issues of the day.
Not my style.
Not my role.
I sincerely appreciate their confidence – and understand the trepidation that must come with entering the slit trench of a council or commission chamber, weighed down with campaign promises and political baggage, then being asked to perform on the high-wire without a net.
I get it.
But I simply have no desire to influence the process by whispering obsequies in the ears of dewy-eyed political naïfs – while jockeying for position among the politician’s ever-increasing circle of “friends” and cronies.
Look, it is certainly not a bad idea for fledgling politicians – who are easy targets for self-serving consiglieri with ulterior motives – to seek close counsel.
After all, the political hacks they are replacing did not listen to anyone, beyond the powerbrokers who control everything but the ebb and flow of the Atlantic tide on this salty piece of land through the liberal use of personal and corporate campaign contributions. . .
Besides, I did not start down this weird path as an alternative editorialist because I wanted to rub elbows with our ‘powers that be’ – or get chummy with the Halifax area’s uber-wealthy social and civic elite.
As I see it, my role is to observe from the cheap seats – an unwelcome voyeur watching the sausage being made – then jot down my often-outlandish opinions and pass them around for others to consider or reject.
It is what it is. Nothing more.
My gin-soaked thoughts on the news and newsmakers of the day are a glimpse at how many in our community are thinking – diatribes which, I hope, serve to let those who have ascended to political power know that someone is peering through the knothole – stimulating a broader discussion of the myriad issues we face.
If that makes our ‘movers-and-shakers’ uncomfortable – so be it – and I can assure our fresh baked politicians that they will soon come to loathe me, just as much as their scarred and hardened colleagues, the first time I take them to task for one gaffe or another.
Because I understand the one unwavering constant of government: The faces change – the “system” never does. . .
I am certainly not a journalist, and I long ago shrugged off any semblance of objectivity, but I have seen what happens when media-types (usually through a thinly veiled surrogate) take sides and meddle in the political process.
Anyone paying attention can see right through that – and we never look at the reporter, or their news outlet, the same way again. . .
In my view, if I were to succumb to the heady, and incredibly powerful, role of advising those on the dais of power, assuming the role of backroom insider, an influencer with no political accountability – lobbying for one policy or project over another, or, god forbid, swaying the flow of public funds to private interests – I would rightfully lose the trust of my readership, my Tribe.
Sadly, in my experience, some of those we recently elected to high office will slowly become everything they hated when they got into politics – infatuated with the trappings and perquisites, distracted by the sense of infallibility that is the natural byproduct of ego-massage – compromised by the exciting promise of political support from some ‘very important people,’ who wouldn’t have given them the time-of-day before they rose to high office.
So, perhaps our newly minted representatives can consider me their Dutch uncle – someone without a chip in the game who offers blunt, even scathing criticism to educate and admonish – a swift kick in the pants to get them back on the straight and narrow when they need it most.
If I have learned anything on this rocky path to enlightenment, it is that once the public’s trust is lost – it is impossible to regain.
And that is the best advice I could give any elected official. . .