03 January 2013

Bravery and Democracy #nlpoli

“It is easy to be an armchair critic, tweeted natural resources minister Jerome Kennedy before Christmas, “but It takes real courage to stand for election.”

In another context, John Steele offered this opinion about your humble e-scribbler.:
“One thing that I respect about Ed is, he’s got balls enough to put his name to stuff. He’s not anonymous, so I respect that.”
The word “democracy” derives from the Greek words for people and power.  Democracy is a form of government in which everyone may participate equally and fully in making decisions that will affect them.
In order for democracy to work, people must be able to participate – voice an opinion, vote, stand for election, or hold elected office – without worrying about their well-being.  Democracy works best when people pitch in as they can.  And for democracy to thrive, people shouldn’t just be able to take part, they should be eager and encouraged. 

In any place where people are afraid to take part in public life, democracy is threatened.  Democracy doesn’t require bravery.

Politicians take on a heavier burden than the rest of us.  We should never fail to acknowledge that they and their families give up a great deal to serve the public.

But their service is not more valuable to the province as a whole – in itself – than someone who contributes in another way.  Look again at what Kennedy said.  He wasn’t praising the politicians as much as denigrating those who didn’t stand for election and win.  They are “armchair critics”. 

In Steele’s case,  he was passing a compliment that is, incidentally, gratefully received. But again, the only way signing ones name to a public comment can be seen as brave is if there is some risk to the person making the comment for the mere act of expressing the opinion.  That is an appalling situation and as someone who runs a radio station, Steele should be much more concerned about it than he apparently is.

Kennedy and Steele accurately described the state of public life in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2003. Take their words as a sign of one of the things we need to change in this province.