Political Inspiration and Compromise19 February 2011
The tweet below makes me a bit unhappy for a few reasons. The first being that it is incumbent on politicians to be at least a bit inspiring. I don't mean they have to ooze charisma and have people fawning over their every word, but let's have a reason to be interested in you beyond you not being some other politician. If not being somebody else is the criterion we are using for political representation then I should be just as good as anybody else at not being Stephen Harper (in this case).
The next reason is that opposition needs to come to the debate with something to add to the debate. Opposing corporate tax cuts, while a noble pursuit, is meaningless without a position beyond "we don't approve". I am interested to know what level of taxation you believe is appropriate and, if it is not too much to ask, why that level. Once there are at least two positions in the debate there is the possibility of compromise. I would not argue that there is a probability that compromise would occur, but it is only possible when the positions differ in some aspect.
Politics and society at large are exercises in compromise. There are few issues in our day-to-day life that are strongly influenced by political ideology, be it left, right or centre, and yet we strive for as fair an outcome as possible under the circumstance. In the longer term, it is entirely appropriate to try to change those circumstances to allow for a fair outcome that is also more equal.
With that in mind, politicians would be wise to cast themselves as people with ideas in their own right and be able to defend those ideas when circumstances require them to do so. However, it is also incumbent upon them to accept that implementing ideas is not always a one to one mapping, and that compromise with other stakeholders may, in fact, improve the original idea. Casting a position in stone nearly always fails in negotiations, as it should, and this should be true in politics as well.
In the case under discussion, Mr. Layton started his pitch to the Prime Minister with a list of what he thought would improve the lot of some people in this country, and it this provided a basis for discussion. Mr. Layton did not foolishly start with "this list is permanent"; he started with ideas and it appears that some of those ideas the Prime Minister can work with and others he will not. It is not inspirational that the two can get together and talk because that is what should be happening. In a democracy, it should always be possible for bad proposals to be stopped before they get too far and for opposition parties to support good proposals.