Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Political Swagger and Justin Trudeau. . . .

Swagger makes me nervous. It always has. In novels and movies swagger is always a harbinger of doom. And undue confidence in "real" life is equally an omen. Whenever someone displays excessive swagger I am always reminded of George Bush now infamous "bring'em on" remark, and the insistence by the Titanic builders that "this ship is unsinkable." It just seems that glib and blithe over-confidence is an invitation to disaster, as though one is tempting fate - and fate, as we all know, can be cruel.

The levels of swagger on the part of the Conservative Party has gradually increased over the past few years, and it has gone into overdrive since the Harpercons got their much vaunted majority. It is easy for even the most saintly among us to fall into over-confidence when we are in a position of power, Couple that difficult-to-resist tendency with an angry, glib personality (as one sees with most of the Harpercons) and you have a recipe for disaster. Over-confidence leads to righteousness, righteousness leads to smugness, and smugness leads to ethical and normative blindness.

Today I was listening to a talk radio programe where there was a political panel discussing this season's parliamentary session. The conversation inevitably turned to the subject of Justin Trudeau and the Conservative on the panel became almost giddy with glee at the prospect that the Liberal Party might eventually adopt the young Trudeau as a leader. He could barely contain himself and actually used the expression "bring him on" more than once. This excessive swagger set bells off in my head. Now, I confess to being terrible at political prediction. When I was young I was sure Ronald Reagan wouldn't get elected and in 2006, two year before the US election, I was positive that the US would  never elect a president with "Hussein" for a middle-name. My predictions are wrong at least as often as they are right and at this point I think it would take a lot to surprise me. We are cursed with living in "interesting" times and such times make predictions even more difficult than they might otherwise be.

Furthermore, as my dad used to say, we all think we have life more or less under control but then history throw us a curve-ball. And swagger always seems to be a warning sign of one of those curve-balls. And people who are busy swaggering are apt to get struck by a line-drive which has gone unnoticed as they wave to the crowd.

I don't know what is going to happen in Canadian politics. I wouldn't be surprised by a Conservative Party coup, a resurgence of the Liberal Party, or even an NDP government. But as this Conservative spokesman blithely laughed and said "bring him on" about Justin Trudeau, all I could think of was that old adage "be careful what you wish for!"

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

Leo Tolstoy thought there were greater forces behind history than just the personalities of leaders who came and went.

That's why he would agree with you Kirby. Be careful what you wish for.