With less than two months until my 26th birthday I'm looking forward to the prospect of (re-?)joining a political party without automatically being shuffled into the youth wing. As anybody who knows me well knows, I dislike party youth wings. At events, we're meant to be caterers and go-get-this people, kept well away from the important people lest we corrupt the old boys' club. At conventions, they use their number to force illogical, incoherent, and dangerous resolutions on the floor to cause all sorts of trouble and embarrassment for the party and sometimes even the country. And of course they're well-known as beer-guzzling sycophants looking for a party, a keg, a thong (apparently they were huge souvenir items at the last Liberal festival), or a politician to tag alongside. Sure I've gotten my picture taken with more than a couple Cabinet ministers du jour, and the ex-PM quite a few times, but the bright ideas and enthusiasm that youth bring to the policy table are often overlooked for those more negative things listed above.
I've been a free agent for well over a year now, surveying the political landscape and trying to figure out where I would best fit if I were to grab a button and put a card in my wallet. Foreign affairs? Conservative, definitely. Status of Women Canada? More Liberal-inclined. Childcare? None of the above. Lower taxes? Conservative. Post-secondary education funding? I'm not exactly sure what the NDP's policy is, but I'd wager it's more generous to professional students (I do love that term) than either of the Big Two. Charter Freedoms and the notwithstanding clause? Definitely Liberal--you stay the hell away from s.33.
It truly is a difficult choice for someone who straddles that divide on a few issues. If I were able to overlook their poor policy choice on SWC and didn't have some lingering concerns about some of the more socialy conservative elements, I'd be a Tory. If I could overlook a foreign policy that would turn Canada into Janus at every opportunity or a childcare position that says my potential future children will be criminals unless I turn them over to Ottawa, I'd rejoin the Libs. I don't particularly enjoy partisan hackery, though there definitely were some fun moments rankling Tories and especially Werner Schmidt back in the day. I think it might have been an easier decision if Ignatieff had won the Liberal leadership, because as much as I respect Dion and perennially owe him my gratitude for taking the time to write a letter to a 16-year old kid going to high school in Oliver, BC, I just don't like this one-track mentality that the Party has under his guidance. Yes the environment is an important priority, but it is not the only thing happening in the world and it certainly isn't in such terrible shape that every day represents one more step towards the apocalypse. Or maybe it is. Any enviro scientists out there that can set me straight without hyperirrationality?
I want to be in a position where I can contribute something to the public discourse on a wider scale than this here blog. I like shooting the breeze with people about political issues, and having a party membership definitely facilitates that. I don't even mind when I'm the only one in the room that agrees with me (as was seemingly the case at the Liberal hobnob in Kelowna in 2004 on the BMD issue, though I wasn't in a room then) on a particular subject. Heck, even being the best Simon Says player in Halifax is a good reason to want to hang out with political-types (this is a really inside joke that like two people in the world may get).
So I don't know. Maybe I'll have to wait until an election is called and see who's going in what direction on what issues that matter the most to me. That could be a while, it could be a few weeks. I'm not even leaning in a particular direction right now. Maybe I need to make some phone calls and revive the Chateau Clique and establish it here in Halifax with some of my old cohorts, I just dunno.