Hump Day: Remember on election day that politicians are human, too!

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

The silly season is upon us. Yup, it’s municipal election time.

On Monday, May 14, voters from across the province will be heading in droves (OK, perhaps just ‘drove’) to elect municipal representatives and a number of other positions who will represent them for the next four years. Candidates will be shaking every hand and kissing every baby they can get hold of.

Confused candidates will be shaking every baby and kissing every hand they can get hold of.

I envy anyone willing to put their name on a ballot these days. The vitriol against those in public office is incredible. They can’t do anything right. They can’t please anyone, let alone everyone, and the hourly wage they earn when all is said and done – especially in municipal politics – is a pittance compared to the skills we want them to have and the miracle-creating expectations we have of them upon their election.

Those who decide to put their hats in the ring these days have my utmost admiration. Even though I may not vote for one candidate or the other, they basically give up six weeks of their life to campaign for a job that will pay them peanuts working for a boss (the electorate) that is impossible to please and quick to judge.

Remember, these people are expected to make decisions running a multimillion-dollar municipal corporation. With councillor salaries so low, is it any wonder that so many people who run are either financially well off, self-employed or retired? Anyone working full-time for an employer had better think twice about running because the 20-30 hours of work per week required (most of it during daytime) just isn’t boss-friendly.

I’ve often contemplated getting into politics. It’s always interested me. I’ve worked around politics a lot, either in government offices or for candidates at one time or another. I’ve always found them to be extraordinary in one way: they were all human.

I mean that in a nice way. We often think of a premier or prime minister or a mayor as always being prepared or always ‘on.’ Sometimes, these people just get tired and want to go home. The pace can be grueling. The amount of issues they have to be on top of seems almost impossible to handle.

And just when everything seems to be going smoothly, a minister or councillor goes on a tangent and lets slip in an interview that he believes that the death penalty should be doled out to children in daycare who wet their pants. Then, the fun starts.

Yup, politicians are human.

They get tired, too. They don’t have some magical potion they can take to ward off fatigue. Well, they do, but it’s nothing more magical than just a good cup of coffee.

Regardless, the pre-election period we’re in now is certainly not a time for any politician or wannabepolitician to get any rest. They will be campaigning, attending every rubber-chicken dinner known to man and making promises about things they have no control over just to get a vote.

Knock on a door and meet a person who will only vote for you if you promise that only pink kittens will drive city snow plows in the winter? Yup! You got it, pal! Meet someone who wants the city to only accept American money in its stores and business? Sure! Great idea! Shake the hand. Kiss the baby. Pet the dog.

If you’re a member of a special interest group, now’s the time to make your case to candidates.

Citizens for Beautiful Toenails (CBT) wants a bylaw to force pedicures onto anyone wearing sandals within city limits this summer. Oh, CBT, trust me, you’ll have candidates at your next meeting sobbing at your plight and promising to rid society of this scourge of ugly toenails.

Mothers Against Dunking Cookies (MADC) will lobby every candidate to ensure that schools prohibit the dunking of said cookies during school lunch hours. Not a municipal politician’s jurisdiction, you say? Poppycock!

In an election, everything is in their jurisdiction, including health care, peace in the Middle East and abortion rights for kangaroos in Australia. Much sexier than potholes and snow removal, no?

Want a job working for the municipality? No problem. Ask any incumbent during an election campaign and you’ll have a stack of 500 business cards in your hand before the candidate’s finished shaking your hand at the door.

Don’t like your husband and want him to take a long walk off a short pier? You’ll most likely find a candidate willing to do the job – as long as hubby votes for him in the advance polls first.

Election time is when every obscure group and eccentric comes out of their basements to lobby for their projects. And candidates are listening.

Candidates make promises they can’t keep. They tell you want you want to hear. Why? Because we want them to. A candidate who tells you he can’t do anything for you – because he really can’t – won’t get our vote. He’s the one telling the truth. Instead, we vote for the other guy or gal who tells us what we want to hear – a lie. During election time, politicians become magicians able to fix any problem with a wave of their wands.

Candidates and voters are always on a perpetual first date. We don’t go to the bathroom. We say yes to everything. We laugh at every joke.

And we don’t break wind. That is, until after election day . . . when we really foul up the place with the stench of reality – their impossible promises and our impossible expectations.

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