We’re living through exceptional times, that’s become clear. Many people have risen to this moment, given back to their communities and have really forced us to see so many things in a different light. When we’re focused on life and death, that can’t help but change the way we look at so many things that have been a regular part of our day to day life prior to this, for better or worse.
This all happened so fast that it’s understandable that some people would take longer than others to come around to this new reality and act accordingly. Let’s face it, people don’t have the patience for some of the usual crap that would come from our politics. Whether it be over the top rhetoric, personal attacks or just all-around pettiness, people aren’t standing for that because their minds are focused on much more important things. Their jobs, their health, their loved ones and their communities, that’s where their thoughts are right now and rightfully so.
We don’t want to be bothered or have any time or energy wasted on the petty crap that we regularly saw before this time. We can’t afford it either, because every moment wasted on that stuff is simply taking attention away from where it belongs. After a month or so of our current crisis, most politicians have figured that out. But sadly that’s not been universal, as two stories I’ve seen in the few days have shown us. Let’s start with one that was printed in today’s Globe and Mail, one that left me shaking my head:
Okay folks, this story…. If this story had come out in December, it would have infuriated me because of the pettiness of it. But put it in this environment, and it’s just that much worse. Today we have a story, in Canada’s leading daily newspaper, about grown men moaning about someone being “mean” to them by blocking them on a social media platform. People are dying, businesses are shut down, workers are being laid off, all of these things happening in the ridings that these MPs represent. And what are they on about? “Ohhh that mean Jean-Yves, he won’t let me troll him on Twitter!!!”
Oh yes, the horror for those Conservative MPs quoted in the piece, who are not known for holding their own rhetorical tongues in the House or online, that someone might not want to be bombarded by those words. And as for M. Blanchet, while I somewhat agree with his sentiment that “partisan attacks, insults and fake accounts do not belong on these sites, especially in a time of crisis”, as a party leader, that’s part of what you signed up for. I am not opposed to blocking random Twitter trolls with eight numbers in their name, but blocking a fellow colleague of the House of Commons? Yeah that might be a bit much.
But the bigger point for me is “why in the Hell are we even having this discussion right now?” If you’re really all about dealing with the current crisis, tell the fine journalist who wrote the piece that. As for the Conservative MPs quoted here, they should have said the same. Of course, the nature of stories like these being what they are, I would expect that someone brought this to said journalist, which means that someone seeked him out with this social media “outrage”. Which again, raises the question of that party or individual “What in the Hell are you doing talking about this now?” It’s political malpractice and as tone deaf as it comes, to think that anyone wants to hear about another leaders alleged social media “Mean Girls” act. Come on man, seriously. Now if that were the only piece of political malpractice on social media in Canadian politics, we would have been fortunate. But oh no, no, no. We have another example that just made my stomach turn and I doubt I was alone:
So it’s Monday morning, the start of a brand-new week. You’re the social media manager of a Canadian political party and it just happens to be the day that nearly a million people will apply for emergency benefits because they’ve lost their jobs, in all sectors. This is also at a time when over 3 million people have applied for employment insurance. These are dark days for so many households across this country and you’re thinking about a message that you want to send out in the name of your party, to the whole country. And in that moment, you write that. You write such a torqued, rhetorical and factually questionable Tweet, basically telling a huge segment of people who work in certain sectors that “we don’t give a damn about you.” It also says to those who haven’t been laid off or fired yet in those sectors “we can’t wait until you’re out of a job too.”
That tweet is the political equivalent of dancing on the collective economic graves of thousands of Canadians, while at the same time openly rooting and calling for others to be piled into them. It’s ugly as ugly gets in the best of times, let alone in such dark and dangerous ones. And you know that Tweet was not an accident or anything that the Green Party doesn’t believe, because as of writing this blog, that Tweet is still there. More than two days later, that Tweet hasn’t been deleted or anything. No, it’s still there as if it’s a mark of honour for them, judging certain workers and industries in these hard times. Instead of making a constructive suggestion or statement about how to improve the current situation or help make people safer, the Greens decided to go for rhetorical shock value and put out words that serve no purpose other than to inflame and gaslight certain peoples. That’s the last thing we need right now and makes you really wonder where their heads are at.
Most people don’t expect perfection at the best of times, and this is at least equally as true in hard ones. But as time goes along and we become more accustomed to difficult times, we rightly expect parties and politicians to change their behaviour. We are a month into this now, and an action that might be deemed to be a mistake in the early days when people didn’t know what to do can now be easily seen as tone deaf now, a month later after they should have learned how to be better. If these two stories show us anything, it’s that the instinctual political behaviours of some are obviously stronger than common sense. As with everyone else, we hope that changes and they do better going forward. But in the meantime, they look like their heads are in completely the wrong headspace and under any circumstances one of the most dangerous places for any politician to be is one that is completely disconnected from the reality of the people they represent. That never ends well, for those politicians, their parties or the public they serve.