Because Every Adequate Voter Expresses Respect (BEAVER) for Politicians
The state of Canadian democracy is in decline, as voter turnout rates are woefully low, and slipped in Ontario to less than one in two — a rate unseen since confederation!
In response, I devote this page to the many reasons elected officials generally deserve our respect. (See my blog post in this subject). There is no doubt we will always need auditors general, judges, the media and others to scrutinize what politicians do, and how they spend tax dollars on our behalf – just as we must scrutinize activities in the financial sector, among doctors, police officers, teachers, etc. In any profession, the odd bad apple betrays our trust and the authority of their positions.
But more generally, let’s all acknowledge there’s a big difference between the armchair coach and the one actually standing on the bench. It is easy to critique from the cheap seats where most of us sit, including me. It’s far more challenging to interpret the actions of others, including politicians, with charity. To approach them with a genuine interest in learning more about what constrains their legislating in ways you or I make may think makes common sense.
To get us started, here are some key reasons to respect elected officials. Please add yours in comments below.
- On our behalf, politicians have made a massive, positive difference for seniors in this country. By implementing pension policy in combination with a strong economy, we have reduced poverty among seniors from 29 per cent in 1976 to less than 5 per cent today. That is a remarkable achievement, one to be proud of, to respect, and one that should motivate trust.
- Politicians could replicate this achievement for younger generations of Canadians, in order to make it far easier to raise a family. But politicians are far less likely to do so, if no one shows it’s in their electoral interest.
- From coast to coast to coast, Canadians can show up at a hospital or doctor if they are sick, and they won’t be turned away. Policy in Canada ensures medical professionals will work tirelessly to treat anyone’s illness, without making them go bankrupt. It wasn’t always this way, even as late as the 60s. Politicians made the change, in the face of considerable opposition from doctors associations. Interestingly, we now trust doctors far more than politicians.
- With very little fanfare, the vast majority of elected officials work very long hours – more hours than most of us. This includes giving up a great deal of private time to attend community events and engage constituents. Most politicians are drawn to public service because they genuinely want to make our communities and our country better. Sure, we may disagree with some of their ideas about what constitutes improvement, but this doesn’t require that we disparage the person, or her or his commitment to the job.