We are in Federal election mode here in Canada, and the politicians are making the rounds with their usual slew of promises, each carefully targeted to specific groups; Boomers are promised better pensions, families with children are offered fitness club subsidies, the elderly better health care. To say that it all sounds too familiar would be an understatement; it’s a formula that has worked since the first time a cave man stood on a rock and grunted his way into leadership of his tribe.

Of course, very few promises are ever kept. As soon as power is assumed, it turns out that a closer examination of the financial books shows a much gloomier picture than was previously known (thanks to those scumbag predecessors), making it impossible to fulfill the vast majority of promises made.

The daily newspapers and the TV news reports are filled with pages of political commentary, analysis, and speculation, as if any of it really mattered. After all, how can the aforementioned have any relevance when they are based on lies? So, most people ignore the whole process (especially the young), realizing that most parties are fundamentally very similar in Canada…middle of the road, fiscally responsible. And maybe that’s a good thing. On the other hand, the net result is that we tend to vote for personalities rather than policies, since the policies and promises are unlikely to be fulfilled in any case. We vote for people we  like because they “appear” to be trustworthy (an oxymoron if there ever were one when it comes to politicians).

On the other hand, many people do follow the political process with keen interest and even passion…almost like a spectator sport. They get all worked up rooting for their team, and groaning when some setback occurs. It is this phenomenon that I find strange….people who actually trust politicians and are surprised when their champions fail to meet their expectations. That must be some kind of psychiatric disorder worthy of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM).

Not that I necessarily ascribe ill intent to politicians; frankly it’s a nasty job that 99% of normal people wouldn’t want to do. They are simply following a formula that is basically rooted in the design of Democracy itself: In order to get elected, you have to please as many people as possible. This means you have to promise them stuff that will make them vote for you. Once you get in, you do what you really believe needs to be done, and either take the accolades or the lumps respectively. Somewhere before election time, you start throwing out goodies to help wash out the memory, and then you start all over again.

No one has yet to figure out a better system.