Editorial – History rhyming

Jeff Burgar

The fellow one day phoned his local newspaper. He says, “I’m thinking of getting into politics. There’s a provincial election coming up. I’m going to run for the nomination here.”

A daring reporter at the newspaper says, “It’s always good to see people interested in politics.”

Then the reporter asked, “And what party are you hoping to represent?”

This was met with a sneer and a huffy reply.

“Well! There’s only one party, of course.”

Of course, the reporter, being a reporter, knows he is often somewhat out of touch with the universe, the province, the state of the weather, and what people in this aspiring politician’s corner were really thinking.

Even though they will blab endlessly in general terms, people mostly don’t like talking about their own personal religion and politics. Secret ballots being secret, once the election is over, it’s amazing how hard it is to find anybody who voted for the people who lost. At least, you can always check out a church to see who shows up.

Naturally, just to make sure he didn’t write up a news story naming the Jack Frost Party, or for heaven’s sake, the Liberal Party, as the candidate’s choice, the reporter had to ask the question.

“Umm, so what party would that be?”

The intensity of the huffing and sneering quadrupled, if not quintupled. The political hopeful fired back, in a voice that shook the shingles on the roof and leaves from nearby trees.

“Why, Social Credit of course!”

This happened several decades ago. Just before, in fact, Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party began its 40-year reign in Alberta. We mention this to demonstrate a couple of points.

First, no matter how smart you think you are, you usually haven’t a clue what the rest of the province, never mind country, is thinking. Maybe not even what people in the next town think.

Second, it’s usually a good idea to have a bit of an idea of exactly those thoughts. It’s called “having your finger on the pulse of the community.”

Small-town politics is mostly a popularity contest. Generally speaking, rich people in town do very well in politics. Or very badly. Most newcomers to a town usually do quite well, mainly because few people know them, and any bad baggage they might have they left in their old community. But spread the net wider to federal or provincial politics. Now it helps knowing what is the “big picture.” Hence, finger on the pulse.

Cynics might call this, “Find out what the pack is thinking. Then run out in front and pretend to be leading.”

In next week’s election, who would win if there was an Alberta Separation candidate running? Today, it really is “What other party is there?” besides Conservative in Alberta.

The next four years of federal politics might really, dramatically, change that. Or a British Columbia election before that has separation candidates or such ideas surfacing in northern B.C.

Final note: That candidate we started with above didn’t get the nomination. But Social Credit did win in that particular constituency. Ours.

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