Painful Truth: Common sense won’t save our politics

There aren’t easy answers to hard problems

It’s election season, so be prepared to grit your teeth as one after another, hundreds of people begin the stupidest chorus in politics: the plea for “common sense.”

I assume you too have been forced to endure a politician, co-worker, friend, or that one uncle at Thanksgiving dinner who knows how to fix everything from the federal deficit to the Canucks defence hold forth on the need for common sense in Ottawa. Or Victoria. Or city hall.

Can we abolish this myth?

Common sense is not going to solve our political problems.

Politics, at any level, is not a big lever that someone accidentally left set to STUPID that can be flipped.

It’s more like a game of Jenga, played in the dark, and some jackass removed several key pieces before you or anyone else playing even got there.

How do you solve the issue of Meng Wanzhou, cause of diplomatic conflict between China and Canada?

Continue on with the rule of law, extraditing her to the U.S.? Is the U.S.’s request legitimate? Whether it is or not, China will retaliate. Set her free and we anger the United States, our largest trading partner and ally. Leave her locked up and China continues to hold several Canadians essentially hostage, and uses its trading might to batter our economy.

Consider a much more local problem – roads in Willoughby.

Way back in the 1980s, Langley Township got itself into financial issues because it built too many roads before the developers arrived in Walnut Grove. A dip in housing construction meant less taxes and fees, and that scared folks down at the municipal hall.

So they settled on the piecemeal approach – have developers build out each segment of the road themselves, which has left us with the patchwork road network we all enjoy each commute.

The common sense approach is clearly some kind of compromise, yes? Put in more funding up front for certain roads – but which ones? Just major thoroughfares? What about school routes? Do you ding developers for more money – and is that fair to the developers who are farther along and will benefit without paying? Compromise, sure. But how much, and in which direction?

We don’t need common sense in politics. We need uncommon sense – intelligence, expertise, education, and experience in a wide variety of issues and specialties. We need teams more than we need single individuals, we need research more than we need pat answers.

And we need to inoculate ourselves to the idea that one person with a few easy answers, from any party, can sweep in and fix everything.

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