(October 5, 2017)
Political discourse has become more like theatre of the absurd. Every day, inane behaviour and baffling comments from politicians crowd out more important issues in the news.
To even call it discourse is a stretch, because discourse requires rationality and respect that is usually absent from the chaos that politics at all levels seems to reflect.
Political analysis has become the job of late-night comedians, because no one else has the skill set to handle its absurdities.
Those absurdities also disguise what else is going on, as the attention of viewers (and voters) is focused on the daily spectacle, where charge and counter-charge have to be more and more outlandish to attract a crowd.
Combine this general distraction with a major drop in news reporting and politicians rarely face the kind of media scrum or the tough questions that used to be a significant feature of the political landscape. There are not enough reporters, enough news programs or enough newspapers, to offer the challenges to power that the Fourth Estate has traditionally provided for nearly 200 years.
In other words, politicians are close to operating with impunity, able to brush off television questions with a 10-second soundbite that says less than a tweet and rarely pushed to explain themselves in any depth.
Canadian politicians are luckiest of all because even at their most reckless, neither the vitriol nor the inanity of their comments come anywhere close to what Americans seem to expect. They may look good by comparison, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean much.