Every day, a few hundred Internet surfers end up on my website after running a Google search for “Justin Trudeau lisp”. I suppose the word “lisp” must appear somewhere on my site, and, of course, I have written several articles about young Justin. What this tells me is that the Liberal Party leadership contest is quickly, and early on, becoming a circus. I don’t like that, because it doesn’t bode well for our democracy.
Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney may think that anyone who underestimates the potential of Trudeau does so at his or her own peril. I think he’s wrong, because the only way Trudeau can ever become prime minister, provided he was crowned party leader first, is if a sufficiently large number of people switch off their brains before going into the voting booth.
Maybe Mulroney’s words weren’t so much a warning about Trudeau as a realistic assessment of how short-sighted voters can be. After all, don’t say it couldn’t happen, because it did happen not long ago, in the spring 2012 election in Alberta.
Regardless, in my view it’s still very unlikely that a majority of men and women will vote for Trudeau and make him PM solely because of his name, looks and hair – the only three things he has going for him, although the latter two are debatable.
If the Liberals end up crowning Trudeau their new leader, the joke will be on them. They may have realized their dream of being led by “Trudeau” again, but the party itself will be a shadow of the shadow of its former self that it is now.
Without a strong Liberal Party, our next election will be turned into an “American-style” election, that is, a severely polarized fight between two extremes – the left and the right.
As our neighbour to the south has so amply demonstrated in recent months and years, when that happens, democracy is the big loser – and with it, every single voter.
In the lead-up to such an election, policy and issues are swept to the curb. Politicians, journalists, bloggers and voters attack and strangle each other (figuratively, of course), and the entire campaign and election becomes about emotions, not facts or substance.
Worse still, fueled by months and months of emotional and hyper-partisan media reports, debates and campaigns, too many voters will head to the polls and make a decision for all the wrong reasons.
Democracy requires thinking and reasonable participants to work. If voters don’t educate themselves properly, or allow themselves to be swayed by anything but the facts, democracy fails and the country ends up with a government that is not only completely wrong, but also the source of animosity throughout the entire term and well into the next election – a perfect vicious circle.
Still don’t believe that could happen? This is precisely what’s been unfolding in the United States for the last five years or so.
Public opinion had been whipped up so hard against then-president George W. Bush and the Republicans that Barack Obama’s victory and move into the White House was a virtual cakewalk.
Now, four years later, it’s plain to see what happens when emotions slay cold hard facts and elect the wrong person or persons.
We should not repeat our American friends’ mistakes in the Great White North. Let objective facts rule our decisions – ironically, this is exactly what Justin Trudeau called for in his “coming-out” speech.