Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wanna be Pigeonholed? Try Politics!

The other day I received a letter in the mail from my Member of Parliament asking me to participate in a questionaire. As one who delights in giving feedback, I was tickled. Answering was annonymous and the return postage was paid so it was a cheap investment on my part.

As I completed the questionaire, I thought about the lack of interest in politics these days. How people say that the young generation (am I still part of that generation?) doesn't get involved, that they're not engaged. I thought about the term Millenials and how it's often synonymous with "tech savvy." As I answered questions about my interest in military efforts overseas and local tax concerns, I also thought about diversity and community.

And then it dawned on me. Identifying with a political party will pigeonhole you.

For a generation now we have taught the merits of diversity and collaboration. That there is no I in team and that Together Everyone Achieves More. But when it comes to politics we still subscribe to an old mentality; there is only one leader, with one agenda and if you support the party you are required to believe and accept their whole platform. If you go out on a limb to support a party you risk the notion that you might be pigeonholed.

Remember clicking the facebook "like" button on some embarassingly silly website only to realize that everyone in your newsfeed can now see it? Cr@p!
Remember the last time you forwarded an email to a friend but then it turned out to be a farse? Doh!
Remember when the cool kids in high school invited you to sit with them at lunch but the unwritten rule was also that you could no longer hang out with so and so? Yeah, I called bs too.

But let's be honest folks, that's politics now. If I "like" your political party it means that everyone of my friends now labels me with your brand. I'm not sure I'm ready for a committed relationship. I also don't want to look foolish if I share a story about you and then you either change your mind or don't actually do what you say you're going to do. It muddies up my integrity. And if I saddle up next to your party platform will I end up being conflicted about supporting at least a few agenda items? Probably!

Political parties are a silly, old notion. I don't think that creating new political parties or trying to find agenda items and platform issues that appeal to the younger generation will fix things. I think political parties make it harder to get involved, and more difficult to take a stand. And ultimately the thing is, we all know it takes a diverse team to be great, not just one political way of looking at things. I don't want a leader who says it's my way or the highway. I want a leader who will ask his constituents what to do. I want a leader who leads me and my community, my province and my country -not their party- to greatness.

So, wouldn't it be great if I could "like" my local MP office without claiming a connection to a political party and their agenda? Wouldn't it be great if we could participate issue by issue and if there wasn't an implication that just because I agree with one issue, that it doesn't mean I agree with all the issues?

Jeremy Fisher sings "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." But I'd like to choose what I stand for and not have it imposed on me by a politcal party thanks.

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