55 Random People

I got a really interesting email from a participant at the Ideas Festival. I didn’t ask permission to post their comments so I will leave them anonymous but I think you will find them interesting.

My line:
“Former NS Liberal leader Danny Graham doesn’t fit the profile of a politician – and he talked about it last night. It would be nice to have more guys/gals like him in politics but the system is not set up to reward his type of thinking.”

The response:

I’m with you on this.

Take any 55 people at random in that room and put them in the New Brunswick Legislature and you’d have change, new politics, refreshing new thinking.

But here’s what actually happens.

Take five people at random from that room and have them be sufficiently inspired to run for office next time. Have only two of them manage to get nominated as candidates, because the system favours people who are party hacks and who have paid their dues to the system over the years. Have only one of them actually get elected, because those are basically the odds. And then watch as the people already inside the system tell that person that “well, your ideas are interesting, but you can’t really say anything that bold in public because it’ll embarrass the premier, and here’s how things have always been done, and by the way don’t forget the minister is trying to get that funding for that project in your riding, so we need you to be a team player.”

I hate to sound cynical.

Occasionally an insurgent political movement does break through.

You would need an influx of 5-10 new MLAs at minimum to shake things up. Or a new leader. But someone who said things like Danny Graham during a leadership race wouldn’t win the leadership. Party members would recoil: what about the road in my riding? what about that summer job with the province for my nephew?

This is also why John Savage faced a huge internal revolt within the NS Liberal party when he was premier. Because he actually tried to do things diffrerently.

Anyway, I had to vent this after listening to all the great ideas circulating yesterday.