Sleepwalking to new leadership

I’m talking about dumb-old-codger jokes, although I haven’t heard any so far. Probably the youngsters are too polite to crack them.

Remember Polish jokes? Dumb jokes lampooned immigrants’ troubles in navigating a new homeland, and maybe I’m doing exactly that.

I’m talking about dumb-old-codger jokes, although I haven’t heard any so far. Probably the youngsters are too polite to crack them.

According to a popular figure of speech, oldies are immigrants to the realm of electronic technology. Kids are the native citizens. Therefore seniors could suffer the same ridicule the Polish people endured.

Some seniors of my acquaintance refuse computers, and others, like me, skim along the surface of the electronic world and do not own any hand-held gadgets.

I can’t help pondering my electronic status as I wrestle with thoughts of tomorrow’s vote for the federal NDP leadership, which really is the first major political e-event in this part of the world. About 131,000 NDP members will be able to vote online or, perhaps less likely, by mail.

For me it is a dream-like process, far removed from logic. Each candidate’s body-language, cut of the jaw, tone of voice and policies enunciated on the Internet all melt together into some kind of political porridge, from which I am asked to spoon out samples and judge them in order of merit.

In the light of reason it can’t be done, but thousands of people are doing it anyway, groping toward a decision like inspired sleepwalkers.

Some onlookers may see the deciding factors in the choice of a chief to be a fluent, persuasive presence and an overall sense of calm, superior strength.

But the record of political change casts doubt on that standard of judgement. Father Arizmendi, the priest who sparked the awakening and rise to prosperity of the poverty-stricken Basque region of Spain, created the Mondragon co-operative federation. He was a lackluster speaker devoid of the charisma leaders are supposed to have.

But he was the right man for the time, and his inventive thoughts were in tune with the mood and the talents of the people in the region.

Putting the co-op  ideal to work in a practical revamp of Canada’s political economy seems the right move for the present time of uncertainty and threatened economic breakdown.

It is a formidable ideal — economic democracy, one person, one vote, any profits divided between co-op worker-members and the well-being of the community. It isn’t pie in the sky; it’s the guiding strategy for tens of thousands of people who signed on to it, and it could work for us.

That’s the main reason why I’m inclined to favour NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp, who combines political organizing skill with a creative trade-union background, and seems receptive to strengthen faltering factories by turning them into worker-owned co-ops.

If Thomas Mulcair should win and persist in supporting a North American Free Trade Agreement which trashes Canadian environmental laws, his colleagues have shown the courage it will require to make him change his views.

All candidates (including 30-year-old Niki Ashton, probably the best-organized thinker among the seven) offer political-economic plans that seem testable, flexible and integrated.

Such planning makes nonsense of the outdated image of a left-to-right political scale. That is my thought as I ramble through the current sleepwalking political process, hoping to avoid becoming the target of a dumb-oldie joke.

—G.E. Mortimore is a Langford-based writer and regular columnist with the Gazette.



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