Beyond Shame

  • National Newswatch

“Beyond shame there is politics,” noted Gerard de Marigny in an unfiltered moment.  Most of us now feel we are living in such an age.  Politics always had the element of the unpredictable and disruptive, but this era has revealed a new willingness to venture as close as possible to the political edge without falling over.Consider the craziness of it all.  Donald Trump, out of office for two years, still believes his address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Vladimir Putin has carelessly risked the future of his career and the security of his nation in an effort to bend an already beleaguered people to his will.  China's Xi Jinping has risked so much in his quest for world dominance that he's about to force his nation into recession, which in that country will affect tens of millions of his citizens.And now, this week, Britain is dealing with its third Prime Minister in as many months.  The Mother of All Parliaments has been so riddled with endless rounds of extremism, idealism, and populism that it can't even manage its daily responsibilities.   It's an embarrassment on a global scale that somehow doesn't seem all that surprising in today's political climate.Democracy appears to be running on fumes while at the same time pushing the pedal to the metal.  Britain has seen two PMs selected in two months without any votes being cast for PM.  Scandal after scandal has rocked the governing party for years, yet it manages to retain power by failing to leave the choice of its legitimacy to the people.The disaster of Brexit was fundamental to the current chaos, which forcibly cast the population into two feisty segments and never brought them back again.  Oddly, the contentions around Britain's deal to leave the European Union have been largely muted in recent months but now threaten to boil over again.Rishi  Sunak, who becomes Britain's first non-White Prime Minister, acquired the position not by an election but as the only leadership candidate to attain the support of 100 Conservative MPs.  After coming in second for leadership to Liz Truss only a few weeks previous, he watched as her economic policies of implementing unfunded tax policies everywhere were rapidly leading the nation to ruin.  Sunak had warned against such foolishness in losing to Truss in the earlier leadership contest and looked on as his predictions came true.And now here is the new unelected PM with a world of hurt to overcome.  The task is formidable, if not impossible, for a bloodied Conservative government.  A keen supporter of Brexit from the outset, he has watched as that decision has increasingly become more unpopular and, to a certain degree, its own form of economic suicide.  That decision to chart its own economic course has left the country with few friends and fewer trading partners.  After Truss turned Brexit into the absurd, Sunak knows he must pull the nation back from the brink.  Or as the Guardian noted after he became leader, “Britain has at last begun its long, painful journey back from the delusions of Brexitism.”He might be the person to do it, though the odds against him are significant.  His predecessor's decision to do away with decades-old regulations, severely cut taxes, reward the rich, and promote Brexit as Nirvana pulled away the curtain on some of Brexit's worst realities, as well as those of the Conservative party.  The British public knows it and would rip the party to shreds if a general election were held today.  Sunak must not only rebuild the country but the party's sense of credibility while he's at it.  He will have to do it with a seriously divided party and several key cabinet figures who still treasure the make-believe world of Brexit above all else.  The oddsmakers are giving him little chance.And what of democracy itself in all this?  It's difficult to know without a general election. Its validity has been repeatedly stripped away by the potent mix of Covid struggles, economic disillusionment, political mayhem, senseless populism, and the increasing fear of global isolation.  Still, voter turnout hovered around 70% in the last two elections, providing hope that the public remains engaged enough to shake some sense into its parliament.  But any hope of recovery will be long, riddled with sacrifice and the casting off of delusions.  That's a tall order, and in a world where democracy itself continues to fall prey to extremism, it will be a treacherous climb.Glen Pearson was a career professional firefighter and is a former Member of Parliament from southwestern Ontario. He and his wife adopted three children from South Sudan and reside in London, Ontario. He has been the co-director of the London Food Bank for 35 years. He writes regularly for the London Free Press and also shares his views on a blog entitled “The Parallel Parliament“. Follow him on twitter @GlenPearson.