I was on twitter the other day criticizing a municipal politician on a call he was making regarding public transit and on came Roger to attack me. Now I have to say that Roger really doesn’t like me, though he might protest he does or is neutral , but if you go back and look at our twitter interactions, there have been a number of times I criticized an elected official and Roger jumps in with both feet and usually on my head. Now I have to say I don’t have a lot of time for Roger either. I think we’ve talked in a person a total of 10 mins but in that 10 mins impressions are made of one another and for Roger he doesn’t like me and I’ve no love lost for Roger either.
So What? Why are you sharing this with us you ask? Well I think it’s worth understanding how personal relationships, or the lack of them, can effect public discourse. In my case Roger thinks I’m a misinformed bully who doesn’t know what I’m talking about and am to blame for the public housing woes in our city. To me Roger is a self appointed political troll who formerly held office and is part of the AM talk show controversy gang. If there’s a progressive idea then Roger wants to kill it.
So here we are, two 50 something year old men, arguing like 5 year olds in the school yard, because we don’t like one another. Global is local and local is global when it comes to politics.
I’m willing to bet good money that many a degenerating political argument is fuelled by this kind of animosity. Tump and Obama is widely held to have come from a correspondents dinner held by the White House while Obama was president. Notley and Kenney. – well that is fairly obvious with a short google search. And the list goes on and on. Personal dislikes or grudges turn into long standing dislikes that flair up and die down.
In the case of Roger and me, well he’s been calling me out for at least 5 years, and I’m sure I’ve called him out as well. But all of this doesn’t solve the question of political discourse and it’s decline. Is political discourse declining ? Well more that it’s going back to the way things were in the 19th century with papers and pamphlets calling political opponent’s everything under the sun. Roger and I haven’t quite got to that standard yet but amongst some Canadian and US politicians it sure is there with Triumph recently calling the Democrats in Congress scum.
Now I don’t know if Roger and I are a symptom of the lack of civility and respect in public discourse or merely the expression of some good old fashioned personal rancour, but it doesn’t take much to see Roger and me replicated across all kinds of political parties, issues, and conflicts. I’m not proposing a solutions to all this, way above my pay grade, but I do think it’s worth thinking about how personally motivated these attacks and arguments can become. For Roger and Me, despite anything he might say, I think it is personal. We just don’t seem to get along and if we don’t get along how many others don’t? Just something to consider as you digest your Sunday politics