On Twitter, AlbertaNDP says “Ken Chapman and Dave King, as examples, are die-hard politicos. Not doing politics differently”.
I certainly can’t speak for Ken, but I speak for myself.
Friends will know that I proudly declare myself a citizen politician. Like the Swiss who believe that every citizen should be prepared to fight for the country (the citizen soldiers), I believe that every citizen should be prepared to engage in politics for the community (the citizen politician). I don’t think our political responsibilities are discharged once every three to four years, by paying desultory attention to election campaigns for four weeks and then, perhaps, taking 20 – 40 minutes on election day to vote for a candidate. I believe we have a responsibility to pay attention to democracy and politics in our community, a little bit every day. I believe in letter-writing, and peaceful demonstrations, and attending council meetings, and having coffee with M.L.A.s.
I believe that we sometimes have a responsibility to lead, and sometimes to follow. I spent 15 years as an M.L.A. (Was I a ‘leader’?) I also supported Brian Mason, now the Leader of the N.D.P. in two elections when he succeeded me as M.L.A. for the constituency (Was I a follower?). I made financial contributions to his campaign, because I thought he was likely to be the best representative of the constituency.
I am a diehard politico, and I thank AlbertaNDP for acknowledging it. But I am not a diehard partisan. I have voted for N.D.P. candidates, P.C. candidates, Liberal candidates and Green candidates in various federal and provincial elections. So I’m glad that AlbertaNDP didn’t call me a diehard partisan. My first political loyalty is to democracy.
I hope I am not a diehard dinosaur, either. I also believe that democracy is a living, changing practice. In the same way, individuals change as they live. I don’t know if my values have changed over 40 years, but certainly my understanding of what constitutes democracy has changed. My understanding of why and how to include people in democratic processes has changed.
I hope my friends agree that I am a person who loves to learn new things, and develop new understandings, and grow. I hope the people who know me find that I continue to be curious, and ask questions. I hope they find that I continue to be angry about injustice and excited that we can do better. I hope that my friends would say I am open to new ways of doing things, committed to working for a greater democracy in Alberta, and passionate about what Alberta could model for the world. I hope my friends would agree that I am committed to a living, breathing democracy that constantly changes and improves the prospects for participation by all citizens.
Perhaps the issue with AlbertaNDP is that I am a label, not a person. Perhaps we should just have a beer together, and talk about what could be for this province. Tweet me. (And no, if I buy the beer I don’t want the money back that I contributed to Brian Mason’s campaigns.)