The political popularity problem

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: PICSFIVE / THINKSTOCK
Let's honest, politics illustrate that high school never ends.

If Justin Trudeau squared off against Neil Peart in a federal election, it would probably be a close race. Trudeau has charisma and family history on his side, but can he play the drum solo from YYZ? He probably couldn’t even get through the intro to Tom Sawyer. As ludicrous as it sounds, the fact that the average Canadian can sing along to half a dozen Rush tracks would put Peart in the running. Hell, if he promised to get Bryan Adams into cabinet, I might vote for Peart too.

The Progressive Conservative Party is in the process of selecting a new leader to replace former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Peter Mackay was a prominent member of the Conservative cabinet and he’s a party favourite to take up the mantle. What Mackay probably wasn’t counting on was business tycoon Kevin O’Leary announcing that he is considering a stab at the top job.

Despite being a keen observer, O’Leary has absolutely no political experience. The fact that a Postmedia poll ranked them evenly in popularity is because you’ve probably heard of him, and it’s no secret that politics is a glorified popularity contest.

Bear in mind that we’ve just elected a prime minister who promised everything but a pony in every little girl’s stocking, voters have the tendency to elect form over substance.

It’s entirely possible that Neil Peart could be the greatest prime minister Canada has ever seen. The same is true of Kevin O’Leary, despite his obvious lack of drumming ability.

The problem is that celebrity politicians fall out of favour as quickly as they fall into it. In light of ongoing technical difficulties with both receiving Syrian refugees and economic stagnation, Canada’s love affair with Justin Trudeau is in jeopardy.

Four years is a substantial length of time in the real world, but not in politics.

Not much changes in that timespan thanks to the sloth-like agility of the political bureaucracy. It’s a necessary evil because decisions made at the federal level have far reaching effects that must be considered before action is taken.

That being said, four years is a tight time frame to establish the legislative agenda of a new prime minister, let alone see it through.

The crux of the matter is that it can be difficult to have a stable government when the management positions have a revolving door on a four-year timer. Even within the government, MPs are shuffled through different portfolios. It’s literally called the cabinet shuffle.

On top of all that, it’s naive to think that election campaigns don’t affect politician’s ability to carry out their work. Every person in office is cognisant of the fact that their days are numbered. At the risk of endorsing a dictatorship, it’s unfathomable to think that this is the style of governance we will have in 50 years.

The prime minister campaigned with a pledge to revamp our electoral system so that Canadian’s are fairly represented and it’s an encouraging sign that the people elected someone who is willing to try a different approach. If the dictatorship idea catches on though, I think we can all agree that Peart is the man for the job.

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