Susan Delacourt (on politics as marketing-as-usual)

“In a nation of consumer-citizens, the customer is always right. It is not the politician’s job to change people’s minds or prejudices, but to confirm them or play to them, to seal the deal of support. Speeches are not made to educate or inform the audience but to serve up marketing slogans. Political parties become ‘brands’ and political announcements become product launches.”

Susan Delacourt, Canadian journalist and author, in her recent Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them. Yeesh. (And what’s more: hurray for democracy!)

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And Who is Akaash Maharaj…

…and why is he speaking so eloquently on my radio these days? Turns out he’s a former policy chief for the Liberals, perhaps shoved aside during the Martin years but making up for it now. It’s so rare to hear someone speaking of politics with not only elegance (a rich, quite British tone and vocabulary and actual sentences) but idealism and principle. His watchwords appear to be “practical idealism”. He’s death on rule by polls, and on Paul Martin’s institution of “regicide” as a matter of Liberal operating fact. Yikes. I’m sure he’s too intellectual, too soft-spoken (and, likely, too brown) to be Prime Minister, but a look at his website suggests that he is certainly ambitious and very capable. Perhaps by the time he can speak to the Tim Horton’s Every(Wo)man – if he ever acquires that knack and loses that Oxbridge lilt – his ethnicity will no longer be a barrier. (Or perhaps he’s in line to be our Henry Kissinger.) He’s a political animal, but I am still impressed.

The Democratic Circus: It’s Election Season

And they’re off! The Canadian federal election has been called. Peptalks, my-party’s-better-than-your-party, the pundits punditizing before there’s much scope for punditocracy. Ah, well. Democracy’s not so bad, you know, although we still have lots to learn about how to do it rather than having it done for us (to us?). But I had a delicious little surge of irony when the first bit of tune-age I played over breakfast today was the Talking Heads album Naked. Awesome stuff, the last vinyl album I ever bought though my kids buy ‘em all the time. Track one on side two is “The Democratic Circus”…

 Found out this morning / There’s a circus coming to town
 They drive in Cadillacs / Using walkie-talkies and the Secret Service
 Their big top / Imitation of life
 And all the flags and microphones / We have to cover our eyes

 We play the sideshows / And we like the tunnel of love
 And when we ride the ferris wheel / We’re little children again
 And when they’re asking for volunteers / We’ll be the first ones aboard
 And when the ringmaster calls our names / We’ll be the first ones to go…
 To sleep

 Stealing all our dreams / Dreams for sale / They’ll sell ‘em back to you
 On with the show! / Start the parade! / We sang along! / Sweep us away!
 It’s political party time / Going down, going down
 And the celebrities all come out / Coming down, coming down…

 Well, I enjoyed myself.