Saturday, March 12, 2011

Find leaders who can see beyond election cycles

"Let's see if you bastards can do ninety." - Marty McFly, Back to the Future
If the economy's good your provincial representative probably gets reelected. With their job at stake every three or four years, there's a certain pressure to push a little harder on the accelerator, to give the economy a little extra boost.
This is a tremendous incentive for any party in power to act in election-driven cycles. We fall for it. If the only real question we ask our leaders is who can push harder on the gas pedal of the economy, the only answers we're going to get are from people pushing as hard as they can. Nobody can relax the pressure without risking the next election.
The trouble that Toyota had with some Priuses getting their accelerators stuck under the floor mats demonstrates that it's actually dangerous to pin the gas pedal to the metal. So too in governance. If everybody is trying to go faster it makes you wonder who's steering, who's reading the map, and (gasp..) who's responsible for the brakes.
With three of our provincial parties in search of new leaders, the question of steering becomes at least partly relevant. Any party is going to be able to keep the car on the road, at least in the short term.
The more interesting questions come at those interchanges where a little bit of steering can mean a big difference in ultimate destination. Which highway do you want to be on? At most intersections it's a good idea to slow down if you want to change direction or take the exit ramp. You won't make the turn if you're going full speed.
If you're only looking 1-3 years ahead, anything other than full speed ahead looks like a waste. If instead you look ahead 10-20 years you might notice the bridge is out ahead, and that we're about to miss the last exit.
It's time to pull the foot off the gas, reprogram the GPS and decide that we want a future that's not hamstrung by election cycles and short term thinking.
Much of that agenda will be set by the leaders of Alberta political parties who will be elected within the coming year. Anyone who can get elected will be able to keep the car on the road. The more important question asks where they are going. Where are they offering to lead us? Can they look beyond the election cycle to build a future that our grandchildren will be proud of?
Has anyone tried the brakes lately? Do they even work?

You might also like:
Declaration of Interdependence
Government sabotaging climate policy
Beware of candidates promising tax cuts

"I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet... But your kids are gonna love it."
-Marty McFly, Back to the Future.

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