“Let me pass, I have to follow them, I am their leader.”
~ Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin
Several weeks ago the theme at the Liberal convention was “Promises Made, Promises Kept”. The Tories reversed it to “Promises Made, Promises Broken”. We would suggest that both parties have forgotten the “Promises To Keep” they need to remember.
One disturbing common thread of both conventions was the cult of the leader. It was almost eerie to hear the words “My Leader” repeated over and over. No thinking person could help but be chilled by the echoes of “Mein Fuhrer”.
This is not meant to imply that the policies of our two major parties are reminiscent of Germany in the 1930’s. The common thread however lies in the total abdication by both parties of any fidelity to principles of universality replacing them with cloying subservience to the perceived glories of their own particularities. Party members have become complicit in their own self-abnegation through a retreat from intellectual rigour that has resulted in an abandonment of any possibility of vindicating their own consequence.
The Liberals, not content with setting up McCarthyite House Committees and Commissions of Inquiry to deflect attention from possibly questionable involvements of the Prime Minister in CSL and Earnscliffe, try to placate the populace with promises of government largesse to any group that squeals loud enough. Whether this is the proper role of the state; whether this imposes an unfair tax burden on the backs of working Canadians; whether this impinges on personal liberties in the name of legislating virtue, seems of no consequence to the Natural Governing Party. They mean to buy votes with a strategy meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of Canadians’ insecurities through a continued espousal of, and support for, all the favorite experiments of the politically correct nanny-state social engineers.
The Tories, though seemingly semi-conscious of the responsibilities of an industrialized power in the growth of democratic development in the world, remain mired in internecine squabbles of various special interests concerned with nothing more than regulating morality. Despite some brave talk on government reform, their debates, particularly on abortion, justice, language, and Charter rights remind one of nothing more than Sunday school preaching in some lonely Prairie church. Can it possibly be that other than Belinda Stronach, Peter McKay, John Reynolds, a few Senators and some back-room organizers, no one in that Party can see how marginalized they appear?
True leaders do not recuse themselves from responsibilities in order to contemplate which way the mob is heading so they can run out and lead it. Great parties of power and principle do not dash between the raindrops to avoid offending anyone and in the end satisfying no one.
Power is not given to children. Those who want it must take it. They must say to the people “Follow Me!” For too long our political elites have survived through the tyranny of bureaucratic consensus and focus group polls. History has taught us that this kind of governance is transitory.
Greatness comes from the articulation and manifestation of a vision based on our common humanity. As feckless as Canadians sometimes appear to be, they still viscerally seek authenticity and respond to those who are true. All we are missing are leaders with enough courage in themselves and confidence in the people to keep the promise of our legacy.
The promise of expanded freedom by arresting the legislation of virtue and the regulation of morality. The promise of national pride and purpose by expanding our engagement in global democratic development with a strengthened military. The promise of a secure social security safety net guaranteed by re-ordered government priorities that reduce corporate welfare and rollback politically correct vote-grabbing pork programs. The promise of freedom from financial insecurity by lightening the yoke of crushing taxation and raising the level of pensions to dignified standards so that Canadian working men and women can reach their full potential as human beings. The promise of universal health care with recognition of the worth and dignity of our healers and the needs of our institutions without pandering to the whining and bleating blackmail of provincial hacks.
These are the promises our national leaders need to keep. Tragically they haven’t even begun to recognize them. Without that recognition, without a new leadership for this new millennium, this country will never meet the future with a proud banner of progress.
Leadership does not lie on top of a fence, nor cower in the narrow gullies of parched prejudices. Leadership climbs heights. It speaks truths. Candidly proposed and clearly proclaimed. And from those heights, it remains true to the vision that the just society we all seek to build is not in heaven nor beyond the sea but is in our hearts to dream and in our hands to forge.