Let the Justin Trudeau scandal be a lesson: seemingly pristine leaders will always let us down
Must our politicians disappoint? That is the question that is keeping some of us on the liberal left up at night.
The latest let down is Justin Trudeau. He of the bilingual social media, refugee welcoming press stunts and (somewhat performative) feminism. While Trudeau was never as left wing as many of us economically, his leadership style on social issues did seem like a breath of fresh air. He appeared to be willing to take action that went against the narrative of the day, making genuinely tough decisions on issues like immigration where the easy option would have been to turn people away.
Trudeau had transformed his party from within rebuilding it in his younger, cooler image. Now, he stands accused by two female former cabinet colleagues of corruption. His response? To throw these whistle-blowers out of the Liberal Party. The disappointment is profound.
So Trudeau is human after all. His once fleet feet are made of clay. Yes another hero falls from their perch.
We expect a lot from our political leaders. So much so that they are bound to disappoint. But should we expect a kind of perfection from them we could never deliver ourselves? Is there a refugee whose life has been changed by Trudeau’s policies that would exchange that for this scandal not happening? Should Labour disown the minimum wage because it was introduced by a leader that let them down so badly elsewhere?
We do need to be clear about what our red lines are. We shouldn’t forgive Blair for the bloodshed of the Iraq War nor of the chaos and loss of trust in politics that followed it just because we think he’s right over Europe. Trudeau’s imperious treatment of his whistle-blowing colleagues should not be glossed over as if it meant nothing just because we like the way he stands up to Trump.
For public service to be the unalloyed good the liberal left believe it should be, we have to learn to be more grown up about those that deliver it. Both the hero worship and the demonisation come from a desire to believe that politicians are different from the rest of us. But we don’t just get the politicians we deserve, we get the politicians we are: weak, strong, courageous, stupid, clever and human. (Continued: The Independent)