COMMENTARY

The Politics Of Expectation!

On October 19th last year, the Trudeau-led Liberal Party swept to power here in Canada.  This followed a lengthy campaign that was initiated when then Prime Minister Stephen Harper had parliament prorogued on August 4th by the Governor General.

inside politicsPolitical pundits suggested then that a lengthy campaign would leave the opposition parties financially strapped, giving the then-ruling Conservative Party the edge.  It did not work out that way, and the then governing party lost the elections.

Despite all the negative ads directed at its relatively young and inexperienced leader, and despite a long campaign that was supposed to dim its lights, the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, vaulted from the third position to the first position in the polls.  The then Opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), was relegated to the third position.

So, what’s so novel or noteworthy about this?  Maybe nothing at all!  However, from before he was sworn in as the new prime minister, many had high expectations of Mr. Trudeau.  Indeed, less than a year in office, many still have high expectations of his government.  Some are still expecting him to fix most or all of our problems.

Shouldn’t we have some serious expectations of those who hold high office?  Of course!  But are our expectations reasonable?  Do we expect more of them than they can reasonably deliver?  Can we realistically expect them to address most of their constituents ‘concerns?  Do they tend to promise more than they can deliver?

There was a time (and probably still is) when we expected our political leaders seeking high office to be squeaky clean.  Now, some of them say anything that comes to their mouth, and we praise them.  Yet, others do not get the same privilege.  Are we showing double-standards in our expectations?

And as if this were not odd enough, we often seem to be looking for messiahs who can solve most, if not all, of our problems.  Have we not learned from history?  How much are we willing to surrender in order to crown them with all of that power?  Have we lost touch with the realities and complexities of life?

So, on the one hand, we seem to have high expectations of conduct and behavior of some of our political leaders, yet on the other hand, this seems not to be a prerequisite of others. Similarly, on one hand, we expect them to solve all our problems, yet on the other hand, we are not prepared to face the demands on our lives that some of these solutions bring.

It is this contradiction of expectations that confuses me, and I have just scratched the surface of this contentious issue.  This is not just a North American issue; it seems to be running wild in every continent and subcontinent of the world, with varying degrees of oddity.  Have we entered a new Era of political consciousness, or are we just confused?

At the time of writing, the Republican National Committee has just completed its conference, and I cannot help but wonder how Donald Trump would keep his promises if he were elected president.  He seems to think he can fix all that ails America.  What will the expectations be for Hillary Clinton?  What do the British expect of Theresa May?  How long will the Trudeau – Tracker continues in Canada before we give up?

To be fair, at least some people have high expectations of their political leaders, however unrealistic, or even misguided.  Unfortunately, some people in some jurisdictions do not seem to have any expectation of their leaders at all.  Frankly, I am not sure which is worse.

Burchell Hanson, Readers Bureau, Contributor 

Edited by Jesus Chan

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