Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Game

Choosing between an honest politician and a self-centred one should be a no-brainer. I think. Except that sometimes the honest politician can't deliver, no matter how noble the cause. And sometimes the self-centred politician can deliver, no matter how selfish his motives. All you have to do is convince him that your cause will get him reelected, and your wish is his command.

That's why I'm no good at political mind games. I'd still pick the honest politician, just because.

By the way, if you wonder who these honest or self-centred politicians are, wonder on, because I don't know either. No one does. Not that it matters much. Politics is a convoluted, contorted labyrinth of hidden agendas, ulterior motives, and mystifying power plays that have little to do with right and wrong. Put simply, it's complicated . . . and I don't do complicated.

Politics is like money. It's a necessary evil. Someone has to run the country, and that "someone" happens to be the guy or gal that we elected. The one that convinced us that they could be our genie in the bottle.

Until a month or so ago, my subconscious attitude was that politicians were a luxury we could live without. We could fire the whole lot and never miss a beat, except for the terrible quandary of figuring out what to do with all the money we saved. Everyone else in the world already knew the awful truth that our flawed democratic system was better than the alternatives of outright anarchy or dictatorship. But the price of democracy is a shenanigans game that can be goofier than a barrel full of monkeys. The bottom line is that you must play the game if you want to get anything from our government. Ugh.

Side note: The Canadians elected Harper, who we don't like. The Americans (or more properly, United Statesians) wish they hadn't elected Obama, who they do like. Such is the conundrum of politics.

When I'm King of the World, I will simplify things. Are you a small-time chief of a volunteer fire department? Do the mice in your hall outnumber the firefighters? Just tell me what you need, and I'll wave my magical King-of-the-World sceptre. Trucks and equipment and cash will appear. People will line up at your door, begging to volunteer. And after the dust settles, we'll all have pie in the sky for dessert.

But I'm not King of the World. And even if I was, some complicated politician would weasel his way in as my Chief Commissioner, or Lord High Vizier, or whatever kings of the world call the guys that manage their affairs. And undoubtedly this guy would be a wet blanket that would urge me to spend the national treasury sensibly on mundane things like education and health care, leaving only crumbs for the volunteer firefighters. And things would be about the same as they are now.

It's time for us firefighters to shed our distaste for things political like a snake sheds its skin, or a politician sheds his promises after the election. We must learn to play the game, especially since my bid to become King of the World is about as solid as a mouse running for king of the beasts. We must show our politicians that it is in their interest to look out for our interests. If we can't do that, we must at least hoodwink them into believing it is . . . because our interests truly are our citizens interests. And promoting our citizens' interests is the whole reason we started this game of democratic representation.

At least I think it is.


  1. Your are right as a small town Fire Chief in a volunteer world, in order to get any or accomplish anything. You first learn how to play the politcal games. First at the Municipal level then on the provincal level and with your eye on the prize the federal level. The first thing you learn is to carefully plant the idea in the heads of your municipal officals,rememeber its not your idea, you are just the tool. Then carefuully you nuture the idea let it grow, so the the locals will take it to the next level, and convenice who ever that yes we need this and how much can you contribute and hopefully this person will take it to the final level and say them yes this is a great idea and we are contributing this much capital how much can we count on you for,
    at least this is what you hope happens.But reality is when all else fails you go back to your volunteers and say well gang I guess if we want this its up to us to raise the money this the sad reality fact of being a volunteer fire department in Ontario. Its funny how our provical police service has a blank cheque for all of the latest and greatest in toys and yet it has been proven time and time again we are
    an asset to this provenice doing the best we can with what little we have. Are motto is when you travel through our part of the this only trans Canada highway you are not in gods hands , but in ours.

    Pat Underhill
    Fire Chief
    Town of Latchford Ontario

  2. You're right Pat. Volunteers are the only option for rescue on well over 90% of the TransCanada - and most of our other highways - and we respond alongside police and ambulance, working toward the same goal of public safety, but without the same support. Gotta keep chipping away at the political iceberg . . .


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