In our society it is very easy for the public to hate politicians, to have a visceral dislike of the person that is in in office. It is so easy for people to call politicians names - liar, communist, fascist or something much more horrid that I am not going to write. This has to stop as it is counter productive and harms us all. I have no idea how to change this paradigm in society so all I can do is say how I come at it.
I start from the assumption that people get into politics because they want to make their community, province, country and world a better place. I also always remind myself that they have friends and family that love them and trust them. It is also important for me to remember that anyone elected to office is only one person and has to work within a system where they need to negotiate and compromise with others - being a party leader or Premier does not mean you are all powerful.
When I view politicians through this sort of lens I quickly see that I have common goals with virtually everyone elected and that they are just ordinary people like myself. No matter how much I may disagree with someone politically I know that we have shared experiences, that as people living in BC we have more in common than what divides us.
There is no place to question the personal self worth of someone in politics. I may disagree with a policy but that does not make the person a bad person. I may think someone does not make a good party leader but that is not a comment on their worth as a person. I am aware I could never make a good political party leader as I am aware there are many other things I will never good at, but this does not change my worth as a human being.
I find it sad when people can hate someone they do not know personally, that they base their hatred on politics and not the person. I can not think of a single politician that I can say I hate, I can think of many that I do not think should be in office but I respect their personal dedication to trying to make things better.
As an example, I came of age during the Social Credit era of Bill Bennett and Bill Vander Zalm. I can not think of an example of someone that was a worse premier in any Canadian province than Bill Vander Zalm. If Bill were to become the leader of the BC Conservatives I would move heaven and earth to try and insure he did not get elected. I would go as far as joining the NDP and working to help Carole James get elected if there was a danger of the return the Zalm. That said, I do not hate the man and would love to have him at a dinner party, I suspect he would be very entertaining, much more so than Gordon Campbell who I think has been a great premier for BC.
I know the viseral hatred directed at politicians is a big reason people quit politics. Where someone was once just a person, when they are elected as MLA or MP suddenly there is a large segment of the population how hates them and expresses this to them. Even if I could be elected as an MLA or MP, which is basically impossible as I have expressed too many opinions that no party would accept me, I have no desire to be the object of hatred for no rational reasons.
It is bad enough now when I write here or when I had the column in 24 hours, people took it as their right to hate me because they disagreed with m views. I have received some freaking nasty messages over the years from people who do not know me but have decided they have to hate me because of my opinion. I know people hate me for stating that I think Gordon Campbell is the best premier BC has had. It is my opinion and I know people do agree. If I were not to state it publicly does not change the fact I hold it but it would reduce the number of people that decide to hate me.
Hatred of politicians makes them hardened and cynical, it makes them less able to achieve their goals of a better world. Hating politicians and calling them names means we all suffer for it. We have 85 MLAs in the legislature that deserve our respect for choosing to be in politics and support for what they are doing. We may not agree with them, but it is our responsibility as citizens to treat them well and not indulge in hatred for no rational reasons.