Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ben meeting Mike Farnworth

Yesterday I took Ben to a Mike Farnworth meet and Greet here in Victoria.  Ben, who is a member of the NDP, was the youngest person there by likely a decade. He felt somewhat overwhelmed and shy being at the event.

Ben is still making up his mind on who to support in the NDP leadership race.  He is taking it very seriously and worried that he may not be able to make a good decision.    He is 13 and is very uncertain about the world of politics but I pointed out to him that there is no wrong decision he can make and no wrong reason for his decision.   I told them many people signed up as members of the NDP without an open mind as to who to support.

Ben is working the criteria that matter to him and is learning a lot about politics, a huge amount very quickly.   He is reading the websites of the candidates and has met the three major candidates, though Adrian Dix only in passing.   He says he is leaning towards who would make the best premier for BC as his major decision making criteria.  Ben is going to try and write about his views about the candidates, but I am not pushing him because it is a lot to take in and express.

Meanwhile, my thoughts on the event.

There were about 70 people there and the room really was too small for the crowd.  I suspect if it were at a different location it could have drawn more people.  

From a campaign perspective I did not see anyone actively going through the room and asking for money and asking for people to volunteer.  There was an announcement by Rob Flemming that they needed money for the campaign.   I decided to give the campaign a few shekels to help defray their costs, but no one had set up the collection bowl/box/bin at the exit when I was leaving and I needed to ask one of the campaign volunteers where the money went.  Also no one was on hand to make sure they got everyone to sign in as they showed up.

The choice of the venue was also a problem because the time was from 5 pm to 7 pm.   There was no provision of food for people and given the size of the crowd it was not easy to order food from the pub.  Enough on the nit picking about the organization of the event.

Mike Farnworth certainly impressed me.   He seems to be the sort of modern social democrat that the NDP desperately needs as a party.   He sounds like someone that could be a leader with the Labor Party in Australia.  He is ready for power and understands how the modern socio-economic world functions.  I am more convinced than before he is the New Democrat best prepared to be premier.

What I keep forgetting about the world of politics is that I am an oddity within it.  I may have partisan views on many issues but I can see wisdom in people that do not agree with me.  I want all parties from across the political spectrum to be as good as they can be.  I also go to events from across the political spectrum.

It is when I go to events that are full of a partisan crowd that I am reminded the people that are doing the most damage to politics and political discourse are the strongly partisan members of the political parties.  It does not matter if I am among Liberals, Conservatives, Greens or New Democrats, there is always this strong vocal minority that polarizes the political world needlessly.

Mike Farnworth was asked if he was a democratic socialist - seriously.  Someone is still holding onto the  idea of any form of socialism?   I am not sure where to begin with that other than to point out that socialism is not something the public in any democracy that I can think of are choosing as a government.  It is people like that who seem to be more interested in ideological purity than having the NDP win an election and actually govern.

Another gentleman at the event seemed to be seriously asking  Mike Farnworth "Is is time for armed revolution?".   Even at my most radical at age 20 I could not have honestly said I would have supported an armed revolution.   The middle aged man that asked it said he lost his job a year ago and explained he had fallen into serious poverty now - I have to assume he was not serious but speaking out of serious anger.  Still, the very fact he could say it and people did not boo him out of the room says his view is not completely and utterly without support.

There was a minority of the crowd that was clearly opposed to the idea of capitalism and private business, people who hated the Liberals and the free enterprisers simply because they were on the other side of politics.   The good part to see is that they were the minority and that most of the people there were not of that view point.

One major advantage Mike Farnworth has over all the other candidates running is that he spent ten years as a cabinet member.   He had to make tough decisions in the 1990s, some good and some bad.  Some of the 1990s decisions of the NDP certainly did not impress the left of the party.   He also had to go out and defend those decisions in the media.   It is these two factors that set him apart from the experience that Adrian Dix and John Horgan have.    No one is more aware of the realistic limits of being a government than he is.  No matter what anyone thinks, being premier does not give you absolute power to do what you want, you have to work within what is possible.

Being there made me see that Mike Farnworth is a better speaker in a campaign setting than I had realized.   I am think he could very well resonate with the general public of BC.   What I am not sure of is if he can win over the left of the NDP.  
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