An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF A CANDIDATE for public office says, “I’m not a politician,” run the other way.
Yet it’s a popular thing for candidates seeking election to claim, as if it’s some sort of badge of honour.
What they’re trying to say is that they’re better than politicians. They’re above the fray. They’re not part of the mess we’re in. Therefore, elect them and they’ll do better.
Donald Trump still likes to claim he’s not a politician. Even his detractors concede that he’s “a different kind” of politician. The latter may be true, but the moment a candidate files nomination papers, he or she becomes a politician.
Even Jessica Bradshaw, a late-filing Libertarian candidate in the Kamloops-South Thompson riding, spend most of her talking time at an all-candidates forum assuring the audience that she wasn’t a politician. She’s wrong. She should be proud of the aspiration.
You can’t be part of the political process, can’t ask people to vote for you, without being a politician. You may have the best of reasons for running, but you’re still a politician.
That’s what makes Green Party of B.C. leader Andrew Weaver so interesting. He’s not the most polished of politicians, and he has a lot to say about the other party leaders, but he embraces the political process when you might think he’d try to distance himself from it.
Weaver is a climatologist who got into politics to accomplish certain things, not for personal advancement or opportunity. He didn’t, in other words, run for office to create a new career for himself.
In fact, Weaver supports term limits for MLAs. He would put himself out a job if he had his way.
He understands that to change certain things within the political system, you have to be part of it. You have to engage. Whether or not you agree with the things Weaver says he and his party stand for, you have to admire his motives.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a politician. What goes wrong is that people who get elected sometimes forget why they’re there, and the whole thing becomes about self-preservation. That’s why new candidates think they can score points by claiming they aren’t politicians, but by then they’ve already crossed the line into politics.