02 March 2008

When Writers Stop Writing

I've identified myself--in part--as a writer for a long time now. Ever since I first got interested in politics I've found myself writing about it. Short letters to the editor, term papers, essays, a thesis, policy papers, discussion forums, this blog. It's what I do--have done--and it's a very large part of how I define myself. You'll notice that I haven't done a whole lot of that this year. It's not that I'm not paying attention or that I'm not interested, I'm just going through a period where I don't feel as though I have a whole lot to say, or much that is interesting. There's only so many times, I feel, that I can write about Stephane Dion's abstentionism and find it noteworthy. Normally the budget is a bit of a big deal. I can't really say that I found anything in there interesting enough to me to write at length about. That may be a problem, I don't know. After all, if you can't write about billions of dollars being spent by the government, are you really a politico anymore?
Of course I am. But I'm not as knee-deep as I was a year or two ago, certainly not neck-deep as I was when I was with the Liberal Party. It's interesting to look at the level of my participation--even when I was trimming lettuce in that awful store years ago I kept myself very involved in what was happening. I was engaged and connected; today I'm not quite the opposite, but the scale and scope has certainly been scaled back. I think a lot of it has to do with the, and I don't know if this is too strong a word, contempt I have for the political class in this country and the manner in which it approaches foreign affairs. That's another one of the areas around which I define myself, and having to constantly watch it being kicked around like a political football where the parties (and the media) hope to score points is pretty insulting. Harper is a great politician, sure, but he's no statesman. The opposition leaders barely qualify as good politicians. The city councillor wants to play field general with Canadians' lives in Afghanistan, and it makes my stomach turn. It's hard to take seriously people who discuss whether or not Canada should have tanks or armoured vehicles when we're in combat missions. Honestly, no matter what one thinks of Hilary Clinton's absurd pledge to be out of Iraq within 60 days of her administration, one can never honestly see her going on national television to state that American forces in places like Afghanistan or Iraq don't need tanks to protect them. It'd be utterly alien to that audience. So I've largely tuned out.
It helps that this government has demonstrated competence. It reminds me a lot of the Chretien days. People don't really pay as close a level of attention because they're more or less content with the job that is being done. Whatever little hiccups appear from time to time are smoothed over, the opposition media and parties have their little tempest in a teacup for the day, but Canada continues along, true, proud, and free. This is a hallmark of conservative government: no big projects, no glitzy and glamourous new spending sprees to get government more involved in the lives of citizens, no major initiatives. It's pragmatic. It's kinda boring, and maybe that's why I'm not writing as much as I used to, but it works.

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