Much of our news is taken up by reports or opinion about politics — for good reason. Politics after all is about decisions and events that affect us in one way or another. But understanding how politics actually works is a different question all together.
That’s not only so in Alberta or Canada but in all jurisdictions in the world. Take for example the debate about the long census form that the federal government in Ottawa wants to abolish or the international and provincial issues about the oilsands development in Fort McMurray, or the question about the future about the Edmonton Centre Airport.
Opinions both pro and con are often plentiful. That in itself could result in confusion. There’s much to know, often little time in busy schedules to find out and be well informed and no energy or time to become meaningfully involved. And yet all these issues affect us in one way or another, in our pockets, in our jobs, in our communities and our way of life.
Sometimes we suspect the motives of politicians, saying that a politician, for instance, has made a decision purely for “political” reasons, meaning that there is some bias in a decision or action, that goes counter to common sense; common sense being the notion that we can arrive at a point of view through evidence and logic. Or we generalize beyond that individual politician saying that a party, or government or a political leader have made a decision for purely “political” reasons meaning that the biases of a group or leader goes counter to common sense, counter to evidence and logic.
Politics however in the real world is ultimately about power, the capacity to control and implement a decision or policy. Unless you are in power you have limited control on a decision or policy made by politicians. Much of politics is about gaining power and staying on power, not a bad thing in a democracy, if you follow established democratic principles.
All of this makes me really wonder how calculating politics can become. Politicians, I am sure, sit around planning how to gain power and to stay in power. That clearly is a reasonable assumption, but would they actually challenge evidence and logic to maintain power? And what would a reasonable electorate think of politicians that would challenge evidence and logic?
How reasonable would it be to elect politicians who do that?