It’s a little hard to understand why anyone would choose a life in politics these days.
Even at the local level, we’ve seen death threats to at least one B.C. mayor from a citizen who disagreed with the direction his community’s city council was taking. We’ve seen another mayor, once a proponent of social media for directly communicating with taxpayers, give it up because of the unending negativity he was on the receiving end of it.
You might say it goes with the job, and it does. People who agree with you political decisions are unlikely to say anything to you, and those in disagreement have always been vociferous about their objections.
Heckling a politician is nothing new either.
But the nature of the conversation has changed, especially over the last couple of years.
The internet, and particularly social media, has given people a platform to air their views, and sadly, not a lot of it is constructive criticism or well-reasoned arguments.
Much of the commentary seems to be of the worst kinds, from people repeating half-understood points drawn from less than reputable sources, or outright falsehoods—and let’s get away from the misinformation euphemism—to commentary lacking any meaning whatsoever, like ad hominem attacks on the intelligence, maturity or even looks of the politician in question.
Fact is, the higher the level of political office, from city council on up, the less likely you are to find an electives official lacking in intelligence. Whether or not you agree with them, that’s another question.
This isn’t to say there aren’t interesting, well-informed voices with a point-of-view. There are, but you have to listen hard; they tend to get drowned out by the quantity and volume of others.
The problem with this scenario is that it makes it increasingly hard, especially for people who are only peripherally interested in politics—like, only when there is an election—to sort the good information from bad, and the arguments backed by reason and fact from the empty opinions.
Everyone has a right to have an opinion, of course. But we should never confuse opinion for fact, even if telling the difference isn’t always easy.
This coming election, and probably all elections for the foreseeable future, it’s going to be up to voters to truly consider the information they are basing their opinions on before choosing where to make their mark.