Looking through the microscope on West Shore politics

In the spirit of giving thanks, Arnold explores the thankless job that politicians endure

By now the tryptophan has worn off, and Thanksgiving leftovers are long gone.

However in the spirit of the past holiday, I would like to take a moment to give thanks, not only to the politicians who ran and were elected, but also to  those potential Members of Parliament who ran and were not elected. Yes, this includes the unpopular notion of thanking a Conservative government, whose polarizing reign is now over.

While thanking a former majority government voted in by the minority of Canadians, in the first-past-the-post voting system may be an unwelcome sentiment in the wake of a clear Liberal mandate, voters sometimes forget that politicians are  surprisingly humans too.

On the heels of a holiday steeped in a history of gratitude, I find myself thanking a government I didn’t vote for, lead by politicians, some of whom like Stephen Harper, are being bandied about as one of the most polarizing in recent memory.

The fact of the matter is this, politicians put their lives under the microscope for the right to serve their country, absorbing both the congratulations and the ire of the public and the media on a daily basis.

Surely each and every one knows exactly what they’ve signed up for, but enduring constant social media scrutiny of both their professional and personal lives from the public, to very public attack advertising from potential competitors can’t be an easy thing, especially for the families of the affected.

Imagine a scenario where that type of behavior happened to you at your place of work?

Most parties have participated in this type of combative advertising at some point in their political history and you often reap what you sow but it certainly has a human cost that we as voters may want to keep in mind.

Remember, for every member of parliament we elect, many more in that riding sacrificed time with family, potentially their day jobs or more for an opportunity for an ultimately unsuccessful bid.

Behind the politicians, an even larger crew of tireless staff, some of whom find themselves on the outside of the job market looking in, are left picking up the pieces of a failed campaign.

In a largely four-party system, regardless of who is elected, it is with virtual certainty the unelected outnumber the elected.

Whether you agree with a particular party’s or particular candidates policies or not, we can all empathize with the disappointment of missing out on an opportunity or job we believed we were the right person for. I know I do.

As voters we have the right to challenge our politicians and call them on anything we disagree with, that is what makes democracy what it is, but I believe we must also consider and appreciate their fortitude for what it is. I know I have no interest or ability to do what they do and believe it takes a special type of personality to do the work they do on such a public stage. That also goes for their supporters, their teams of staff and volunteers, some who are young family members whom sacrificed equally behind the scenes because they too, believe so deeply in their cause.

Without those that don’t make it, there isn’t those who do, there would be no democracy. The reality is many who lost will look elsewhere for work, while some may never work on another campaign again. There may not be 100 per cent security for any job, but I for one, go back to work today with more security than those working on political campaigns will ever know.

It is a deep sacrifice they make at all levels of government, with no guarantee of anything at the end of a hard-fought race. My hat is off to those that were elected and equally so to those that weren’t. Your sacrifice to make democracy what it is has my heart, and I thank you, even if I didn’t vote for you.

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