I woke up the other day to a radio report that one of the parties in the election campaign will now be ‘turning its guns’ on the leader of another party. I was filled with sadness.
Election campaigns are not war. Ridings are not battlegrounds. Politicians are not warriors. ‘Taking no prisoners,’ is not debate.
A reaction against these military characterizations would be creative and lifesaving for our democracy.
Our current political architecture debases and undermines even the best of those who present themselves for office.
Petty, rude and malicious behavior is increasing. An eye for an eye is accepted behaviour. And not only from politicians but also from voters.
During election campaigns, too many of us adopt the mindset of war.
We become taunting bullies – behavior we would not accept on our children’s playgrounds. We delight in the foibles of others, forgetting that the shoe will be on the other foot soon enough. We see evil in the heart of every politician we don’t agree with.
This language and behavior are symptoms of an architecture that is not serving our best interests. It is possible to be tough and assertive in our proposals and disagreements while occupying the high plain of civility and respect.
Aside from the issues of the day, this election is an opportunity to invest in democratic processes that future generations will need to address the tough challenges they are inheriting.
If you would like our political architecture to reflect the better angels of our nature please join me in:
- Watching our language
- Focusing on issues not personalities
- Creating the conditions for all candidates to rise to the occasion
- Blocking uncivil and cynical media, facebook and twitter comments and
- Discussing what our democracy is for.
By the way, I have worked on many election campaigns and even ran one once. If I had read a piece like this while campaign manager I would have dismissed the author not merely as naive but would have placed him in the camp of ‘the enemy.’ I still have to work hard to curb those impulses.
Civility is the enabling condition of a larger debate about the world we want.
– Mark Kingwell, author The World We Want
In the arms of the angel
Fly away from here…