Tell us what you think, what you really, really think

Bold Ideas - Dorothy Dobbie
Bold Ideas –
Dorothy Dobbie

It is the silly season for politicians this fall – with three elections looming over the next three to 15 months, every media outlet is bursting with political pundits, pooh-bahs and poltroons, announcing and pronouncing on every topic under the sun.
And now we have the unmediated media – the Internet, eagerly awaiting every pearl that drops from wise and unwise lips.
So here’s a novel idea for novice and experienced would-be politicians: be careful what you write on the Internet. Be doubly careful if you are in any way connected to a campaign, because what you say can and will be used against you – or your political associates.
After all their years in politics, you would think the Steeves would have learned this lesson.
They should know (and so should you) that every comment you make on the web, no matter how private you may think it is, will be picked up by someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
And it doesn’t matter that the comments you made were years ago – they reflect who you are and how you think. If you aspire to office (or even a job), those comments will either endear you to interested parties or make you the target of their derision – or worse.
At the very least, you will be judged as having: bad judgment.
Lorrie Steeves claims that she was just having a bad day when she penned her damning comments about some of Winnipeg’s First Nations citizens. She blames a group of them for accosting her for a handout and making her feel unsafe – unfortunately, she tarred the entire population with her words and that is not fair.
A handful of bad apples is just a handful of bad apples – not a reflection on a whole community.
Regardless, she jotted down her inner resentments revealing how she really, really thinks. No amount of apology is going to change that – nor the fact that her husband defended her by trying to lessen the impact of her words as being said in frustration.
Mrs. Steeves may have felt safe in saying these things to her friends on Facebook, but here’s the rub: lesson number two for budding politicians is that, in spite of their smiles and handshakes and promises to vote for you, the public can be just as tricky as they say politicians are!
Make no mistake, Mr. or Ms. Candidate, the people don’t all love you and many are actively working for the other side while smiling and nodding at you. What you say to your “friends” could be all over the community within hours. People will talk – gossip rules now more than ever and it travels at the speed of light.
Tell the truth and shame the devil
Lesson number three: Politicians are going to slip up if they don’t always speak from the heart. Just because you think an idea has political legs, doesn’t mean you can sustain the enthusiasm needed for a convincing performance at all times. So tell the truth.
If you think your opinion is unpalatable to potential voters, maybe you shouldn’t be running after all – either that or you should have a logical and well-thought-out argument to support your opinion… or, maybe you are just wrong.
Lesson number four: The public is pretty smart. People eventually smell a phony. As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time, you can even fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. Sooner or later, they will find you out if you aren’t what you claim to be.
Come to think of it, maybe it’s a good thing we now have the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. I take it all back – say what you think, what you really, really think, and let us weed out the insincere, the foolish, and the hypocrites before Election Day!

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