Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What kind of party would I run for?

At EPSB, we are conducting an intensive staff engagement survey. It will help us to gain valuable insight into our employees' perspectives around things like: recognition, wellness, confidence, relations with supervisors, etc. We are striving to be an employer of choice, where all our employees feel good about the work they do and are proud to be a part of our organization.

Which made me think about Don's comments at Reboot about wanting to be proud to be an Albertan again.

Which made me think of how proud I am to be associated with the remarkable reboot-ers.

Which made me wonder: What kind of political party would fill me with pride and inspire me to run provincially?

Here's my thinking to date.

I would be proud to run for a party that was based on TRUST, OPTIMISM,

Trust in the party members and in their ability to represent their constituency, even if that means occasionally voting against the "party line". Trust to allow party members to speak openly about issues, to engage in dialogue through a variety of means. Trust that party members could even openly attend an event like Reboot Alberta!

Trust in the public- that they deserve to know what is happening, can understand the complexities of issues and should not be "shielded from the truth." An empowered, engaged citizenry is the goal and we should trust that when well-informed, the public will make the best decisions (which may or may not align with our own thinking!).

Trust in other levels of government and the elected officials who have jobs to do.

Optimism for the future, a belief that we can tackle the significant global and local challenges ahead; we will find a good way to move forward together. This is the opposite of a fear-based, protectionist, batten-down-the-hatches attitude that sees others as the enemy. It is a philosophy built on possibilities, creativity and courage. It is not, as some cynics might suggest, a naive attitude.

Decisions are made after careful reflection, considering all points of view, including most importantly those who are opposed. People on the other side of issues have important information to share that supporters don't. Careful thought means open listening and being willing to reconsider what was previously held to be true. Reflection must be built into all decisions and significant change must be well-charted and communicated clearly.

This is tied to trust, but means that politicians always remember that they serve at the pleasure of the public. I've been told that in the Aboriginal community, leaders do not run, they are chosen by the people. It is both a great honour and a great responsibility to be selected; you do not refuse when your community calls upon you to be a leader. This appeals to me and I think it is a needed element in servant leadership/ethical leadership models to counteract the seductive lure of power and entitlement. Humility recognizes that none of us have all the answers and we need one another's wisdom to achieve our best potential.

Too often, I see politicians who are out of balance: over-full agendas, stressed out and never really "present" in the conversation. Is this the right frame of mind to be in to make critical decisions on behalf of the community? Any party that I would be interested in running for would need to understand that my family and sense of balance are critically important. In short, I need breaks; I need time off. A party that sees this as shirking my duty, doesn't understand the bigger picture.

Who is more important? The CEO or the artist? The party supporter or the plumber? The businessman or the environmentalist? So often, people are ranked and parties decide whose voice is more important. I think everyone's voice is important and we need to establish mechanisms for the quieter voices to be heard. All Albertans need to be equal members in the circle. Preferential treatment based on income, race, advantage, affiliation has no place in "my" party.

We are all too darn serious. I like to laugh. If there is no joy, there's no point.

And another thing....
Question Period is counter-productive, if not directly responsible for the public's current distaste/apathy regarding politics. I wouldn't want to participate in that level of "gotcha" politics. Real questions, real answers- maybe. The current form of "yell across the floor, thump on your desk" silliness- no thanks. It's juvenile and embarrassing and I think we can do a lot better.

So maybe this "wish list" is not realistic. That's okay. I don't need to run for any party. I feel that this list is almost possible with municipal politics and maybe that's where I belong. But maybe, if parties want to attract potential candidates like me they should consider what's keeping people like me out of provincial politics in the first place. And maybe, the key to increasing their margin in the polls lies in re-examining their current M.O.




Berry Farmer said...

Maybe it's possible at any level.

Tim Osborne said...

The "Balance" issue is one that really speaks to me Sue. As I begin my entry into politics, this is probably my greatest fear. My family is a huge reason why I want to run as I want to be a part of creating a better future for them. My family will always come first for me, but I know that there will have to be sacrifices to run a successful campaign. Not an easy challenge.

Ian said...

I think a lot of the opposition parties (both in AB and federally) are trying to ask real questions, but the government returns with either snide, partisan comments or dodges the question and talks up their own record. I can't blame you for hating it, but there are honest questions being put out there.