COLUMN: A pox on the Kool-aid drinkers

MORRISBURG — You’ve seen them, you’ve read them. They are the ones posting to their social media accounts link after link, in line with the message of the day that their political party war room is churning out. They are the ones who thump the plastic noise makers at every candidate event. They are the unreasonable, the un-reasoned with, they are the Kool-Aid drinkers. In past elections, the Kool-Aid drinkers were known as partisans; the dyed-in-the-wool supporters of the red party, the orange party, or the blue party. In the lead up to this election however, the partisans have crossed from party support to blind allegiance, and it is ruining intelligent discussion in Canadian politics.

What is intelligent discussion? Simply put, it is the discussion of more than one side of an issue, and mutual respect of listening to other view points. You don’t need a university degree, or to be well versed in Keynesian Economic Theory to look at more than one side of an issue. The problem is, you cannot have a discussion with a Kool-Aid drinker.

Take an NDP Kool-Aid drinker, and try to discuss issues with Bill C-51, the new Anti-Terrorism act that was passed recently. The NDP Kool-Aid drinker will argue that if you support any part of C-51, you must be with “them”. Them being the Conservatives and Liberals who passed the legislation. Or take a Liberal Kool-Aid drinker, and try to discuss Trudeau’s plan to run a deficit. You will not get a discussion, only Kool-Aid and that you are uninformed. Same with Conservative Kool-Aid drinkers, ask one about the Canadian response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the “Technical” Recession Canada is in, or the slagging Canadian Dollar and jobs market. Kool-Aid all around.

As politics becomes more polarized, all of the partisans have zeroed in on the talking points of the parties and their glorious leaders. These people have lost the ability to have rational discussion. Why does it matter? To politically-minded people, it doesn’t. The Kool-aid drinkers in this group don’t care about the rational discussion. Non-Kool-Aid drinkers of this group are able to seek out other non-Kool-Aid drinkers, or ignore the streams of Kool-Aid laced vitriol. To anyone not politically-minded, but who might be interested in what is going on it can cause two issues. They may end up becoming a Kool-Aid drinkers themselves, agreeing with the partisans based on emotion, without looking at issues from more than one side; or more than likely they will get turned off politics all together and choose not to participate in the process. That is the real risk of the Kool-Aid drinkers.

To combat this, to prevent further erosion of voter participation in the political system, there needs to be a concerted effort to bring back mutual respect within the process. Canada is a free country and people may not like or agree with your opinion, but they have to respect that you have one. Same with the partisans, regardless of political stripe. The rhetoric needs to be cut down by a factor of 10. Red, Blue, and Orange Kool-Aid drinkers don’t have to agree with each other, but they have to respect each other, not just shout each other down. With respect for each other, setting a good example and tone, potential voters may tune in more to what’s going on. They may even decide to become active and vote or support a party. That respect, makes the political process much more healthy.

The shouting down, the lack of compromise, the partisanship, the barrage of tinted Kool-Aid pablum spewing forth, does nothing to advance ideas to move Canada forward. Until the Kool-Aid drinkers, and those who run the faucets, can get back to a respective discourse, may there be a pox on all their parties.

Author’s Note – The original text has been modified to correct the spelling of “Keynesian”.

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