Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trudeau the Sociopath?

In Canada we are facing a federal election in October. The election campaign is in full swing. Leaders for each of the three main federal parties (Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic) are traversing the country, holding daily news conferences in which they dribble out promises of millions of dollars spending on various special interests. In addition, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, is campaigning. But, with no chance of forming government, her campaign has less of a smarmy feel to it. Her comments are much more true to the party's beliefs, rather than aimed at trying to swing some group of voters as the other leaders appear to do.

I am not impressed with the political leaders in Canada. I find that the whole federal political process is becoming more and more polarized. I dream of a political scene where parties can offer opposing positions on issues, but can make their position clear. And in which parties feel no need to constantly muddle their opponents' points of view. I wish they would just boldly state their point of view and let the voters decide if they agree. The whole process is becoming decidedly sociopathic.

I watched Peter Mansbridge's interview with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau the other day. I generally avoid TV and any form of video coverage of the election campaign. I'd rather read about it. However, I decided to watch this interview since Trudeau's party could potentially form government (albeit a minority one), and because I have heard enough of both the Conservative leader Stephen Harper and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to have a pretty decent idea of what I think of them. Trudeau, though, I am more or less ignorant of. I know he is wildly popular among some Canadians. As a relatively young, relatively new face on the federal political scene, he also comes from a family with deep connections to the Canadian political scene, his father having been probably Canada's most famous, and certainly its most intellectual, prime minister for about 14 years between 1968 and 1984. I have heard all of the arguments against Trudeau - that he is too young and inexperienced, that he is just a pretty face, that he feels he is entitled to the job of prime minister, that he doesn't really stand for anything, etc. I had generally dismissed those as more attack ad style comments that don't really mean anything. So, I was surprised by my feelings as I sat watching Justin Trudeau being interviewed by Peter Mansbridge. To me he came across as smug, unable to really answer a question (even more so than a normal politician), unable to really articulate his party's position on what they would do in power, and, as the interview progressed, I felt that I had no other term than sociopath to best describe his communication. If a sociopath is someone who can communicate in a charming way, convince people they are normal but are actually all in it for themselves, tell people what they think they want to hear rather than speaking plainly and honestly, constantly sell people an image or product that doesn't actually have any substance to it, then in my opinion Trudeau fit the bill perfectly.

His conversation with Mansbridge was the exact opposite of my desire to see political leaders take a bold position and let voters decide. All of his answers were nebulous. It is clear that he knows Canadians are divided on many issues, so he spoke in a sort of code, hoping not to upset those that disagree with him more than he was hoping to win the support of those who might vote for him. I didn't need to see the whole interview to know that I can't vote for him and would be sorely disappointed if the Trudeau led Liberal Party won the election (unlikely as that looks at the moment). And this is coming from someone who, though I have never voted for the Liberal Party, I have supported their views and actions on many things.

Another sociopath in politics. Who would have thought?

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