As pessimistic as I am about the current state of affairs in Ottawa and about where we'll be in five years, this pessimism is not absolute. You see, our best and brightest will not, as Socrates suggested, gravitate towards power--unless they have a good reason, that is. Absolute incompetence at the head of every political party is one of few exceptions that will allow this to happen.
In Canada, we are fortunate to live in a very privileged society. There are the acknowledged gaps between rich and poor, between men and women; however, we have a much greater opportunity to reach our potential than most. We have access to information, education and find ourselves in the upper echelon of global political and economic players. This results in a great number of people who are well educated, well informed and who will take charge if necessary.
This, I believe, will be seen in the years to come. The stagnation of today is breeding not apathy but outrage and those who realize they have the ability to improve upon the status quo will take action rather than take aim.
Quite often, the intellect is not welcome in the political sphere. The confidence that accompanies it (some say ego) often puts off the average citizen (see Trudeau). Conversely, intellectuals often scoff at politics, dismissing it as a populist three-ring circus (which it is).
There are no leaders in our country's political arena right now. There is no one with the conviction, the vision or the fortitude to make anything happen. A glance to the south and we can see that they have a choice between two evils but also the presence of a third option, a man who throughout his life has been a critic. Ralph Nader is an example of an intellectual who has finally said "enough is enough."
We have many Ralph Naders in Canada, many individuals with greater capacity for thought and progressive intelligent action than any of our politicians who, until now, have had no reason to step out of the private world into the public one. It is through the actions of men like Nader and their eventual Canadian counterparts that today's educated youth will see their intellectual capacity as a means to alter the course of a nation.
I am often guilty of underestimating the general capacity for comprehension and intelligent thought of the masses. I am often a critic, an intellectual who dismisses the political realm as having nothing worthwhile to offer or say. One thing I have noticed during the concomitant election campaigns is that there is a silent voice in North American society, a voice that Ralph Nader is helping US hear. It is the voice of those who know better, of those who aren't swayed by the kissing of babies, the shaking of hands or negative, simple-minded television ads. It is the voice of you and me, the fed up intelligentsia, who are sick of being ignored and misrepresented. I do not support the man's policies, but I am forever grateful to Mr. Nader for showing me there is hope, that we will produce leaders as a reaction to the void at the top, that we will control our own destiny.