Right Side Up

rightsideupI moved away from Canada in the late 1990s.  I had been a political fanatic up until that point, reading everything I could on the topic and working as many elections as I could.

When I moved to the US ‘real life’ took over and I got very caught up in work and building a new social circle.  I occasionally had a political discussion (largely around elections and political communication), but otherwise I just faded into the crowd.  My values were still there, but I wasn’t as interested in the political process.

At the time I saw it as losing interest in politics.  However, when I look back I realize that every Christmas (at home in Canada) was full of heated political discussion and analysis.

When I moved to the UK my job put me back nearer the political world and I had people around me who were interested in politics.  Plus, with my accent and interesting US elections in the news, I got asked a lot of questions.  I ended up teaching intro to poli sci classes on trains, buses, or anywhere else someone asked a question (and ask they did).  I had the chance to do a little political writing and have many thought provoking discussion with people who held different perspectives.  And I got to see both of my countries from an outsider’s perspective, which was invaluable.

What I really got out of all of this is that I still love politics.  I just don’t love American politics.  Sure, I can get into a good election and data analytics around elections interest me, but overall Congress is a bit of a bore.  Canadian politics, on the other hand, are amazing.  Utterly fascinating.

While all this self-discovery was going on, years were passing.  The Liberals were dying a slow death.  The NDP were making their move.  The Conservatives (who had previously died as the PCs) were making their way through the changing face of the Right in Canada.  I had some catching up to do!

Paul Wells book reads more like a story than like a text book.  He gets behind the errors of the Liberals (perhaps believing their own press) and the unexpected rise of Stephen Harper.

It turns out much of what I had suspected was confirmed in the book, but I also learned a lot about how these new Conservatives are different from the PCs.  Also, I had no idea Harper was from Ontario.

This is a really good book if you’re a political hack like me looking to do a little catch up on the back rooms of Canada.  I hear he’s got a new book out and I’ll be interested to see the new twists the story takes.

As an aside, last year I read The Secretary by Kim Ghattas.  Ms. Ghattas would be well advised to read Wells’ book to see how to write a political story, acknowledging your place in it without trying to make the book about yourself.


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