Thursday, April 14, 2005

Are you really surprised? Really?

Justice John GomeryIt's been almost two months since the Gomery Commission began to investigate the sponsorship scandal and I have one question for everyone who's dumbfounded at what they've witnessed thus far: are you really surprised at what they've uncovered? I mean really?

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lord Acton (1834-1902)
I'm not being cynical here. Honestly. I'm being serious. Can you find one government, just one--past or present--whom you can point to without a doubt in your mind and say "they're honest!" I'm willing to bet the answer is a resounding no.

Unfortunately, ethical behaviour in the political arena tends to be the exception to the rule, and "looking out for the people"--as we are no doubt all aware--only happens in an election year. Promises are made, flesh is pressed, smiles are flashed and the charisma--whatever little of it there is--spews from politicians with the solitary objective of being elected into office. Once they're there, well that's a whole other story. We all know this right? So why is it that when there's a Shawinigate, or an Adscam, we act as though the accused have somehow let us down?

I don't get it. On one hand we make jokes about corrupt politicians, and on the other we hold them up to a ridiculously high standard. So which one is it? Are they corrupt through and through or are they defenders of the moral high ground? Scammers or beyond reproach? One or the other. But you can't have both. The choices are mutually exclusive.

Sadly however, we want both. We want to take our jabs, and still expect ethical perfection. Which is why I think the real scandal is the sad state of Canada's society with respect to its politics. For the most part, Canadians are apathetic. Voter participation is in steady decline. Nobody cares. Our shock factor 24/7 entertainment soaked minds no longer have the capacity to soberly consider societal politics. If it isn't naked or blowing up, we're not interested. But give us scandal and you've got our attention--for a few minutes anyway.

T.S. Eliot said it best: Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

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