Perpetual electioneering or governing?

Jul 9, 2019 | Blog, Governance | 4 comments

Elections are never really over. They are perpetually the target of politicians and political parties. This is one of the fundamental flaws of our democratic governments. We should spend more time focussing on the process of governing rather than the result of past or future elections.

As I said in a recent post, the top priority of some of the people working in our current system is to chalk up political wins on the scoreboard. To them, it’s even better if your opponents suffer a political loss at the same time. This is the result of a heavy investment in the philosophy of the endless campaign. It supports an entire industry stretching from political strategists and backroom operatives to the mainstream media. The politics of politicians and political parties is a perversion of our democracy.

Checks and balances

We are elected officials. Once we have been successful in winning our seat, it’s our job to govern. All of us. We each have our own roles and responsibilities to maintain the accountability of government, we are the checks and balances. Frankly, we should not be at the whim of 20 or so of the most powerful members of the political party who can secure a majority of votes in the Chamber, no matter how they do it.

The form of governing I would like to see is an entirely different approach than we have traditionally seen in our Legislature. There has been little focus on political parties and their politicians working together. That’s until the minority government formed in the British Columbia Legislature in 2017. The idea of “working together” is antithetical to how majority governments work.

Governing a province requires its rules, regulations, policy and enforcement to be relevant for a multi-dimensional organization with over 30,000 employees and involving a complex array of social, environmental and economic factors. Partisan goal-scoring is irresponsible, if not dangerous. A committed group of elected officials should proactively act in the best interest of the needs of the organization. That’s governing. Politicians, strategists and operatives chasing votes by splashing $1,000,000 of tax payer cash on interest groups. That’s electioneering (their political interests, your money.)

Striving for fewer political casualties

In our modern democratic government, political parties focus on the result of the next election and everything builds to that day. I’m going to focus on the process of governing, nurturing relationships and good ideas, solving problems and lifting people up instead of hitting them when they are down. I believe the result will be winning more often with fewer casualties.

Image by O12 from Pixabay

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  1. Bill Irving

    Good conversation. In democratic structure there will always be challenge of representing regional needs and persuading the majority needed to make a decision.
    I recall as part of governance forum, when proportional representation was being considered hosted by Mike Harcourt, we suggested development of regional caucuses. Because province is so diverse the idea was to designate 5 regions or “counties” where all MLA’s, regardless of party, would discuss regional priorities. After reaching regional agreement, the chair – secretary of state – for that region would present their plan to other chairs who would submit priorities and budgets to ministers and then legislature. The intent was to base priorities on people’s needs and provide MLA’s more influence on budget priorities regardless of party or location.
    The idea was to bridge gap between current system and reluctance to consider proportional representation by respecting needs of each region regardless of majority party.
    Unfortunately at the time, proposed bridges and expansion of transit in lower mainland were priority which represented lots of votes so other than a discussion nothing changed. (Although after much coastal lobbying, Corky Evan’s was appointed Minister of Fisheries, to focus BC concerns over Federal Fisheries management goals.
    A short lived concession.)
    Regardless this was one idea to try to refocus centralized politics from “electioneering” to people and issues.

  2. Rodger Moore

    I could not agree with you more on this issue. Well done. One other thing that may be worth a look is the threshold for passing bills into law, I would like to see more of a consensus in the decision to bring in new laws or ammend older laws.

  3. Megan W Ardyche

    Adam, this is an excellent blog post. It is especially timely given the Federal election underway. I don’t know how to bring this change about, though. Our politics seems to be getting more and more divisive instead of less so.

  4. Lois Eaton

    Excellent observations. Cooperation is critical to saving our planet, taking care of every citizen’s essential needs like education, health care, social connectedness, and economic surety. I appreciate your leadership, along with Sonja and Andrew.


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