We take it for granted today that social media is a force to be reckoned with — with students and younger folks leading the charge. It’s really amazing how fast this new reality took hold. I had my stint in student politics from 2003 to 2006 and I never leveraged social networking for that. It all came later. Well, I’m all socially networked now. But I still haven’t tried to use it to make a real point yet. Maybe I haven’t had a truly original point to make until now. Now I think Leonard Cohen should be our next Governor General.
For those who haven’t heard, Stephen Harper recently announced that he would not be recommending Michaelle Jean for a second term as Governor General. Although the Governor General is nominally the Queen’s representative, in actual practice it will be the Prime Minister’s decision as to who is appointed. This decision is effectively one that Mr. Harper can unilaterally make, but all kinds of practical constraints intrude. It has to be someone who won’t embarrass either the nation or Harper’s party. And for all that the Governor General may be very important for a brief time in some constitutional crisis (prorogation anyone?) the odds of this happening again any time soon are so long that it isn’t worth buying a lot of negative press with an unpopular choice. So where does that leave us? This is politics played in the theatre of public opinion. And this is what social media was made for.
So here is Leonard Cohen for Governor General – The Facebook Campaign. And really, why not? He is respected and even revered both internationally and domestically. He is fluently bilingual and is gladly claimed by both French and English Canada. He loves our nation in the quiet way only true Canadians understand. He is spiritual and morally centered without pushing his faith on anyone else. He’s a heck of a good choice in every respect, save perhaps that he’s probably too smart to get suckered into the job. That, and he makes a much better income on stage.
But leaving aside the unlikeliness of the choice, does having a bunch of people in a Facebook group really prove anything? I don’t know. I waffle back and forth on this one. But I do believe in the power of an idea. And social media gives me the power to turn a quip over breakfast into a potentially national movement to draft this man into office. And that’s pretty cool. If enough people join maybe we can actually get his name in the mix. Who knows?
What really matters, more than anything, is that we demonstrate to the government that we are indeed still watching. We care who represents our nation, even in a role that is often just ceremonial. Our choice for Governor General sends a message about who and what we are as a nation. The message I’d like to send to the world is that we’re a nation not afraid to be led by a poet.