By Greg Price
They say never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table.
Perhaps that is a creed where social media is thrown into the equation.
That thought has crossed my mind as I continue to shake my head at how downright nasty it has gotten given the fallout from an NDP majority government in Alberta, and the fears the same may happen federally as well.
It seems there is no happy medium when it comes to politics here in Canada. Either we are way too apathetic or swing to the other side of the spectrum, where it’s hatchet jobs with character assassination or name calling.
I should of seen the storm clouds rolling in earlier in the election season of discontent when someone quipped at me at Wing Wednesday, ‘oh yeah, you’re an NDP lover.’
I could not quite understand the person’s comment until they pointed at my bright orange Puma golf shirt. Yes, I thought to myself, that could be the case as orange is the colour of the NDP party — or yet a better explanation could be since my youth, I’ve loved the colour orange if there were anyone who wanted to do any investigative journalism out there. My love of orange has had people mistaken me for Dutch or I’ve been adopted into the Dutch brethren among prominent people in the community.
That was just the tip of the iceberg, as I cannot recall ever in my 17 years of journalism of politics being so supercharged for the better — and for the worse, as it has this year.
It seems like the radical fringe on both sides have this to say about the other — if you are an NDPer, you must live in your mom’s basement, want everything handed to you and if the light hits you just right, it looks like you are growing a mustache that resembles Joseph Stalin.
If you are a Conservative, you must be a redneck hillbilly, or someone who would sell that same mother on the stock exchange if the dividends warranted it.
I have seen right before my eyes long-term friendships end on social media because of passionate, polarizing political views.
My sister who is one of the sweetest women in the world, and used to steer clear of anything remotely political, has jumped into the deep end of her Bernie Sandersmania, State side.
Wing Wednesday was always my oasis from the everyday journalism grind and it too had devolved into political shouting matches from time to time.
There is no mystery that I am left of centre.
But again, admitting that to the extreme right must mean I have absolutely no knowledge of how economics work, there is some tree I’m hugging right now with my free hand as I type this, and besides the colour orange, I must like pink as in Pink-O Commie.
But truth be told, I’ve voted all over the political spectrum since I’ve turned 18 years old. Progressive Conservative, NDP, Liberal, Green and Wildrose. I usually vote the person rather than the party which was what made my last vote provincially the most conflicted one I have ever had. I’m a fiscal conservative, yet liberal socially which some people say is impossible to be, but I think both can co-exist.
You can say we need social safety nets, but not spend like a drunken sailor on them at the same time with no oversight. I also laugh when people talk about the ‘evils’ of socialism, but yet enjoy socialist principles in their everyday life that they may not be aware of, that they are directly benefiting from. It was literally a 50/50 coin flip this time around for me in the provincial election.
Going by my past logic, it should have been a slam dunk for PC candidate Brian Brewin. I’ve had the honour of knowing the man over many years having covered Municipal District of Taber council, a council that has been open and transparent over the years and has been whipped into strong financial shape thanks in part to his stewardship.
But what happens when you believe in the person, but have become disenchanted with the party? Any political strategist will tell you, the arrogance of the PC party at its highest levels was showing through that it was going to be a cakewalk after 44 years of rule.
The accelerated call for an election, the ‘everyone has to look in the mirror’ speech by Prentice in which he follows it with a budget where indeed not everyone had to look in the mirror with who was affected. Were there backroom deals brokered with members of Wildrose crossing the floor?
When you have an NDP majority less than an hour after the polls closed, people were obviously screaming for change.
If not in overall policy, perhaps just a political divorce where one of the partners (the voter) felt like they were not being appreciated and taken for granted.
But who was the Alberta voter supposed to get remarried to? Wildrose? A party that proved they had wandering eyes in attempts to further their political careers by crossing the floor with some of its members?
Had those people stayed the course and stayed to their vision, would it at least be a coalition government, among Wildrose/NDP, if not an outright Wildrose majority?
It is the political ‘game’ that I have a distaste for, and it looks like it is creeping into the federal election as well, making me almost want to check ‘none of the above.’ But that in itself seems like the coward’s way out.
I do know I’m growing tired of the NDP is Armageddon in Alberta rhetoric. From mere timelines alone, are we led to believe all the problems Alberta is experiencing right now is solely because of five months of NDP rule, and there are no lingering effects globally or from the previous 44 years of PC rule? I never realized one party could be so powerful. That is not to say that the NDP hasn’t had its missteps already with quashed pay raises, speech blunders etc. which again makes one think, some policies may be different, but the game still seems to be the same.
I do know though that even if ‘my guy’ doesn’t get in, it will not mark the end of the world. Life will go on, and bordering on someone doing something that is truly distasteful or evil in my eyes, I’m not going to lose a friendship over it on the Internet. There is a Facebook friend out there in Tedd Allen I am always politically sparring with, but we also keep it civil — AND WE BOTH USE LOGIC!!!!
It’s refreshing to see another person’s perspective without it devolving into name calling, insults, fear mongering etc. It’s also refreshing to see he enjoys beer as much as I do — we can all find common ground.
In the end, although there may be a politician that I feel does not uphold the ideals I hold most true that gets into power, I can still strive for those ideals within myself.
And if other people get to see how positive those ideals can be, maybe that’s where the movement starts, at the grassroots level as opposed to top down.