Making sausages


Andrew Potter questions our stated distaste for politics.

These may be descriptions of actual experiences, but they are also threadbare cultural clichés. This is what Orwell denounced as the corruption of thought by language, “gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else.” Is it possible that when it comes to political engagement, most Canadians are in a position somewhat similar to Schrödinger’s cat: they are neither alienated nor engaged until they are asked by a social scientist, at which point they just fall back on the default public vocabulary of a broken machinery of government manipulated by knavish politicians … Everyone loves justice, but everyone hates lawyers. Or how about lamb chops versus abattoirs? Politics is the process of democracy, law is the process of justice, and the abattoir is the process of getting to lamb chops. It isn’t clear that any big conclusions can or should be drawn from this, apart from a variation on Bismarck’s famous line: democracy is like sausages. It’s better not to see it being made.


Making sausages

  1. Words and phrases become cliches by remaining true over time.

    And cliches encapsulate truths everyone recognizes.

    You know….like Bismarck’s famous line about laws.

  2. It’s the best thing I’ve ever read by the author.  Does he get kicked out of The Hipsters now for making sense?

    “This suspicion is only amplified when you consider the groups that made up the focus groups….it is not an overstatement to say that making these three groups happy has been the overriding focus of federal policy for the past 40 years.”

  3. +1

    Or actually, it may also be because statements such as “politics is all lies/personal attacks/for show/dishonest/partisan/etc.” is an easy, quick way to gain near-unanimous agreement from all privy to any conversation about politics, thereby ensuring that one is reinforced in both self-esteem (if so many people agree with me, then what I say must be true and I must be right) and self-righteousness (because I — rightly and correctly from the previous moral pedestal I’ve just erected to myself — denigrate politics so much without myself being directly involved in it, I am not guilty of these sins which I am pointing out in others).

  4. democracy is like sausages. It’s better not to see it being made.

    Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!

  5. I think there is something to what you are saying. By the time we are adults we have watched and listened to so many news, sports, talk and reality shows that we are all “used to” being interviewed. Ask Canadians what they think during an election and they will respond as if they are pundits on an election panel opining on the horse race.

    Note: The preceding thought was corrupted by reading what someone else said, but I can’t remember who so I probably got the word order wrong.

  6. I have talked to a number of people *formerly* involved in politics in one way or another.  I don’t just mean failed candidates, but people who were once a member of a political party (all kinds) and now are not, or even who used to vote at every opportunity, and now–meh.

    I hear those conversations in Samara’s report (I’ve only read the executive summary).  This is not statistically relevant of course, but it sure bolsters my confidence in Samara’s findings.

  7. If democracy is like making sausages, why does it involve so many wieners?

    • Coffee spew!  LOL

  8. As always with Potter, the wisdom here is nothing but sophomoric moral relativism.

  9. Also from Potter’s column

    …consider the groups that made
    up the focus groups. While some of them — urban aboriginals in
    particular, and certain segments of the youth vote — have every reason
    to feel like political outsiders, can we really say the same about
    francophone Quebecers, new Canadians, and members of rural communities?
    More than any other constituencies in the country, these three groups
    have been relentlessly courted by political parties from all points of
    the political compass. It is not an overstatement to say that making
    these three groups happy has been the overriding focus of federal policy
    for the past 40 years.

    Can’t exactly put my finger on the reason, but the word “Drivel” comes to mind.

  10. There are real experiences people can draw on when stating that they are disillusioned by politics despite being involved.  Think of all the independents in the US who voted for “hope and change” in the last US election and basically got four more years of Bush policies.  I bet a chunk of them are disillusioned.  What about people who voted for Chretien because he promised to scrap the GST?  The cynical would claim that Chretien never planned to scrap the GST, and that the voters who voted for him knew this.  But that’s simply not true.  A lot of people were outraged when he dragged that policy promise to the trash can.

    These are simply two examples.  There are literally a lifetime of duplicitous actions people can draw upon when deciding that they’ve had enough of politics and politicians.  They lie to get their positions, we all know that.  Some people get disgusted and stop voting.  Pretty simply concept, really.

    • How’s that transparency and accountability thingy going?

      • Don’t worry.  I didn’t vote for this bunch of liars.  They’re the worst by far.  But in the interest of non-partisanship, I figured I’d bash a couple of politicians who I thought might be not as bad as the last guy (Obama/Bush and Chretien/Mulroney) before they took office.  Turns out they were just as bad.

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