‘Poets, priests and politicians’

It’s actually the latter of the three that’s on my mind (and on my television) right now.

Debate time.  We’re a little over a week away from a provincial election here in Ontario.


I’ve spoken a few times before about how veryvery much I prefer dialectic to debate.  It’s sort of the basis of my approach to the world.  That there is a leader’s debate happening right now is symptomatic of what has gone so veryvery wrong in our political system.

Winning and losing.  Diametrical opposition.  Extremes of belief with no attempt made to find common ground.

And then there’s the mudslinging.  And speaking over one another.  The pomposity.  The posturing.

The same old song and dance.

Speaking of song and dance…

Way back in 1980, that Sting Dude wrote one of my favourite tunes while he was still in one of my favourite bands.

(Hope you enjoyed that video, BTW.  Watching it made me feel both nostalgic as Hell- I still have instant, visual recall of the boys being silly in their matching ski outfits- and as old as the hill on which they were skiing.  Jebus.  That was a looooong time ago.  Sigh.  I think I’m a little (more) depressed, now).

The song, which has been running through my head since listening to a wonderful live performance CD over the weekend, was a response to the attraction to the simple– how inane lyrics attract all kinds of attention and get our toes tapping, and how the most popular of songs are really all about their catchy hooks, while they say nothing of real consequence.

In his typically Sting-ish fashion (To be Sting-ish: 1. Involving cleverness and intelligence of insight with just the slightest soupcon of pretension and self-satisfaction.  2. Songs that contribute to the Logos of my life.  3. Brilliant, if occasionally pedantic.), Mr. Sumner (to use his once-upon-a-teacher name) was trying to highlight the power to be found in the straightforward, by interspersing his important ideas- about leaders and their attempts to drive their listeners into submission with their words- with the mainly nonsensical but oh-so-very-catchy chorus.

He contrasted the words of the poets, priests and politicians:

‘Words that scream for your submission
And no one’s jamming their transmission
‘Cos when their eloquence escapes you
Their logic ties you up and rapes you’


‘De do do do, de da da da
Is all I want to say to you
De do do do, de da da da
Their innocence will pull me through
De do do do, de da da da
Is all I want to say to you
De do do do, de da da da
They’re meaningless and all that’s true’

Lots and lots and lots of words.  Without clarity, rationale or substance.

Politicians (like priests, and yes, poets- like Mr. Sting) do have words to thank for their positions.  They use those words to persuade- and when they can’t persuade they start yelling and screaming and hammering home their ‘message’.  Sticking to sticking points regardless of logic or basis in honest examination of the issues (despite the overuse of the word ‘truth’ tonight).

Straying from the questions asked- by those they seek to govern- to iterate (and then reiterate) those choice selections that are playing best in the polls.  Resorting to personal anecdotes to strum at our collective heartstrings.  Throwing personal insults about- disguised as back-handed compliments.

None of my questions were answered, either.  I learned nothing in the past hour and a bit that I didn’t know going in.  Certainly nothing that will change my mind, or my vote.

Debate rather than dialectic?  Waste of time.  Without actual information- rather than sloganeering and politics-as-usual- voters’ discontent will increase.  Having to sift through the bullshit trying to find a core of substance that might move us forward requires more effort than many are willing to expend.

That’d be why so many people buy the catchy, simple nonsense of the chorus (nonamesmentionedcoughFordNation).  Or let their apathy overwhelm and can’t even ‘be bothered’ to vote.

Interesting that, like the debate raging in the background here in my living room, there were three of them-there-Police-guys- and they couldn’t manage to get along either.  Their artistic differences (okay, and egos) resulted in a break-up that broke my heart (until the brief reunion tour a few years ago- Jebus, am I glad I lived to see that!) and left us, instead, with a whole bunch of mandolin-heavy music that we could have done without.

The vast differences in the wordy rhetoric being spewed by the three putative leaders on the t. and v. tonight, based in partisan ideologies that have more to do with power (okay, and egos) than with purposeful change in the province?

Those are words that can lead to the breaking of more than a heart.  Regardless of what the paid political pundits, journos and analysts will have to say in its aftermath, NO ONE ‘won’ tonight.

This is our future, peeps of Ontario.  Cut through the artful eloquence and see if you can figure out who might just best represent the innocence that might pull us all through.


It’s vital that we take the time to do so.  Sad that it’s required, but essential nonetheless.


18 comments on “‘Poets, priests and politicians’

  1. Well said. No one won tonight. It would have been great to see them stray from their scripts. Even the “personal anecdotes” were painful to listen to. No one has won my heart or my mind. I will vote for the least worst of the lot–the party that I think will do the least damage. Not very inspiring, I’m afraid. You?

    • colemining says:

      Oh, Booksy- and now I’m torturing myself listening to the pundits and ‘analysts’. Just about to turn the tv off and read a book. This time out I’m voting for the best choice for to lead my riding- the candidate with the best track record of making a difference for the constituents- rather than focusing in any way on the leader(s) and their purported party lines.

      That we’ve come to the point of choosing the ‘least worst’ is desperately depressing- but I’m doing my best to focus on the performance of individuals rather than any sort of grandiose plan that is based in imaginary math or economic planning.

      Sigh. The ‘personal anecdotes’ sounded more scripted than the politicized rants! Jebus. What we’ve come to. Have to remain focused on the local level (both municipally and provincially) and hope that real work and planning might actually ‘trickle up’.

      Keep strong, Booksy. Thanks for reading!

      • Yes, I have the same strategy–but I have 2 great possibilities locally. The incumbent with a proven track-record and a newbie whom I know to be kind, honourable and hard-working. Anyway, my 8-year-old called it (she watched the debate with me, somewhat squirmingly): “I don’t think the boy is going to win.” 🙂

      • colemining says:

        Smart Kiddo you’ve got there! Takes after her Mum! We have two strong candidates in my riding, as well. So I’ll be spending the next week and a bit learning all I can about the both of them to come to my final decision.

        Such a relief to know that there are others out there of like mind!

  2. How about we make it a requirement that priests and politicians put forward their views and policies in poetry?!
    Cut to the chase, encapsulate. Then only if anything in the poem rings true are they allowed to expand on their words.
    For most of them I’d start by allowing only Haiku. Think how much energy and wind power would be saved. Not to mention our poor ears!
    All the best with what is always a difficult time, Cole, filtering through the do, do, dah, dah. 🙂 x

    • colemining says:

      Ooooh, that might make a difference. Great idea, Anne-Marie. Would certainly eliminate the Rob Ford-types- unless you count dirty limericks as poetry.

      I don’t actually mind doing the work. I’m interested- in some ways- in the process, and engaged with any number of the issues. What I find distressing is that there are many that just aren’t. They say things like ‘that one’s a crook’, ‘that one’s a Commie’ and ‘that one is the best of a bad lot’ and leave it at that.

      While watching some of the follow up commentary last night (glutton for punishment, me) it was pretty brutal to hear the partisan reactions to the hour-long posturing they call ‘debate’. The pundits discussed who was to be most congratulated for maintaining ‘the attack’- one even called politics (and political debate) a ‘blood sport’. A) What’s with the violence? and 2) It isn’t a freakin’ SPORT- it is about our governance and well-freakin-being as citizens and taxpayers.

      No idea where we’ve gone wrong, but it’s past time to change the paradigm. Sigh.

      Thanks for reading Anne-Marie. xo

      • I know what you mean. It seems almost inevitable that everything becomes slanted to such a degree that the point is missed. I have read so many articles on the issue of Scottish Independence. I still believe it is the way forward for Scotland. But a number of the rants leave me shaking my head… and then my tongue gets the better of me.
        Going off on isolated or insular ideas instead of sticking to the main points and essential message makes for frustrating reading.
        The nature of the beast, I know, but I could shake some people. Better not. But lots of metaphorical ‘by the throat’ images can’t help but surface…now and again. 😉 x

      • colemining says:

        The rants are insane. The only ‘ranter’ I ever listen to is Rick Mercer (google him and have a listen to some of his messages- he’s a National Treasure, he is)- and he’s on hiatus for the summer…

        The ‘debate’ here last night was so focused on sins of the past- and either chastising or apologizing for said sins- that anything of real value in the messages meant to lay out plans to move us forward was completely lost. And I think I pay pretty close attention to what’s happening in our political realms.

        If I were to start with the ‘shaking’ I’d be an exhausted heap before even making a dent in the list. Fingers crossed there are enough people paying attention to what’s really going on in our halls of power- such as they are.


  3. bethbyrnes says:

    Cole, as you well know, we are having a parallel election year run up here, in the lower 50 ;-). I don’t know how I can keep from screaming, because the wackiest of the wacky — tea partiers — who have pulled the far right, so much farther to the right they have left our solar system, are winning. Either by using the Koch Brothers money to just outspend anyone else, as in Crony Joany, the Iowan who is proud of castrating pigs and openly says in her ad that she can’t wait to come to Washington and make people squeal (nice gal, no?). Or the guy challenging Sen Thad Cochran in Mississippi, who actually had someone sneak into Cochran’s elderly and ailing wife’s hospital room and video tape her to embarrass Cochran — these should-be-in-any-sane-universe-losers, are winning. The extremists are likely to take the Senate here in November and then, if you thought Americans were dumbing down over the past six years, wait til you see what is coming if they have both Chambers. Did you ever see the talks by Osho on priests and politicians? You would find his words prophetic. This is not a nice election and I don’t know how to explain what is happening in North America. I am at a complete loss. Another songster prophet I like is Don Henley — I wonder what he is writing, right now. He might just be wordless at this point, stupefied.

    • colemining says:

      Beth! Too funny- I was just thinking about Don and wondering what he must be making of all this nonsense. Man, I miss that guy! We need some new music from him, stat!

      Holy Hell. I can’t believe the depths to which politicians will sink these days- in the name of ‘getting ahead’ of their competition. I was under the (obviously mistaken) understanding that politics were about governance and leadership. Silly me.

      I have always said that an attack ad- any attack ad- is the quickest way to lose my vote. It’s a wee bit hard to hold to that- and still actually vote for one of the candidates these days. As Booksy said- it’s often a matter of choosing the ‘least worst’. Shouldn’t be that way. And, honestly, I don’t think it is- necessarily. I think there are some responsible leaders out there who will make a beneficial difference for us all- assuming that people stop focusing on the ridiculous din and actually pay attention to what’s being said/planned.

      Have to keep on keeping on with the fighting of the good fight. I will be doing a whole lot of homework over the next little while…

      Thanks for reading- and for your comments. Hard to believe that ALL of North America is falling (willing) victim to the same idiocy. xo

  4. lennymaysay says:

    Great post Cole. Always love it when the politicos come in for some well-deserved stick.

    • colemining says:

      Thanks, Lenny. There is some substance in amongst the nonsense- just have to work hard to find it. And hope that others are doing the same. Appreciate you stopping by, as always!

  5. DyingNote says:

    I’m in no position to comment on political debates in the States. But here in India, we had the most polarizing run-up to the recent national election. Ridiculous at best and vile and vicious at its worst. But the most notable part of it (to my mind) was how much people were taken in by the extreme statements that were being made and how many of us could not see most of it as mere posturing. Now that the elections are over, we’re already seeing some sense in the governing party coming back. And I just hope I haven’t spoken too soon. But the people, they continue to be a bit silly.

    • colemining says:

      Hey DN- thanks for your visit- and your input. I was amazed- watching the elections in your neck of the woods- by the engagement of voters. It really seems like- in spite of the growing tendency to stoop to American-style political rhetoric and ridiculous shenanigans- that voters in India are at least informed and aware of the importance of being part of the process. Not the case here, in Canada, or in the States, I’m afraid.

      Here’s to the return of sense- and more of it to come! Thanks for reading!

  6. Ste J says:

    I find that even in debates, these days politicians go for soundbytes because they know the papers will report them to an apathetic public that doesn’t want to or have the time to pay attention to the real issues.

    We do have a bi-election today and there are issues over a hospital and there are issues over a local hospital and the Monster Raving loony Party are going with the policies of bringing back leeching and building a lobotomy ward if they get in.

    • colemining says:

      Ste J- so true. The media (and social media) is complicit in the dumbing down of our electoral procedures. Can’t argue with that. They contribute to the apathy, this is for sure.

      Wow- the crazy seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. Hope the Loonies had there butts handed to them right and proper.

      Thanks for the visit!

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