Perhaps in our day and age it’s worth reminding people that it is OK to have a political point of view and it is entirely OK to disagree with other political viewpoints.
It seems at times like we have become a society where diversity of viewpoints is discouraged and only agreement with the status quo is allowed. You’re either with us, or you are against us and this divisiveness is actually undermining our democratic values.
The last two provincial elections are a perfect example of why we are stronger when all sides are able to stand up, be heard and counted.
Not only did Albertans show up to the polls earlier this year in record-breaking numbers, but it elected MLAs across the spectrum of politics in this province. Not only did the UCP receive its first mandate to hold power, but Albertans are lucky to also have a strong opposition with the NDP to question and hold government accountable.
Our democratic system doesn’t actually work when there is only one perspective in the legislature. It works when all perspectives are welcomed, encouraged and heard, even if you disagree with it.
The tendency of political discourse these days, thanks to social media, leans toward the abusive and intolerant. Where human beings, who each have charter rights and freedoms to have ideas and express them, respond to differing points of view with attacks, deflections and dismissals.
This rhetorical minefield we have found ourselves in as a society is degrading the way we treat each other and undermining the ability to uphold kindness and compassion as the foundation upon which we have dialogue.
It comes from both sides. The amped-up outrage and drive towards headlines and soundbites – Tweets and Facebook posts – is not actually dialogue, it is spectacle and theatre.
There are no winners when this is how we play the game of politics as a society – we all end up losing. Because instead of better ideas, better policies, working together and compromise, we have us versus them. Those that are all good versus those that are all bad.
This is not healthy. It is actually toxic to our democratic values.
So we would encourage our readers, elected officials and leaders to hit pause on this short game and start strategizing for a different one. Instead of censoring, threatening or maligning those who would like to express themselves about political decisions – they should be welcomed with open arms regardless of how emotional the conversation is.
Political decisions have consequences on the everyday lives of Albertans and many of those affected so far under changes made by the UCP want to and deserve to be heard by their elected representatives.
The game we should all be playing isn’t about who is the winner and who is the loser. It should be about how we can all come out better off in the future – regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum.
A government that is focused on jobs and prosperity shouldn’t have to pit Albertans against each other to achieve those goals. We should not have to sacrifice jobs in education or the public sector to bring back jobs in oil and gas.
We can have our cake and eat it too – we can support pipelines, and invest in non-renewables at the same time we develop new economies and create jobs for future generations that will have a much different environment to deal with than we do.
It does not matter who holds power in the Legislature, they should welcome being held accountable for their decisions and policies. They should be ready to debate and defend changes based on their merit – not on shutting down voices that disagree with them.
Because the ends won’t justify the means when history looks back and judges this current government and the opposition if they continue to lock horns indefinitely regardless of what is being discussed.