Not With A Bang But A Whimper

I had planned on sharing more pictures of the Kingston Penitentiary today, but decided those can wait until tomorrow. I am a political junkie and the hot Canadian political news takes precedence. More of the Kingston Pen tomorrow.

As I predicted, Canada will not be following the American model and selecting a reality TV star to lead the country. Kevin O’Leary, star of Shark’s Tank and Dragon’s Den (and in his own mind the frontrunner to become the next Conservative Party leader), pulled out of the race Wednesday.

Radio news reports had him saying he could win the party leadership but didn’t think he could win the country in the 2019 election. I have a higher opinion of him than that: I think he would have no problem beating Prime Minister Selfie, but there was no way Conservative Party members wanted him as leader. My estimate was that he would peak at about 23% on the first round of the leadership ballot – and would be frozen at that with no growth on subsequent ballots. It will be a ranked ballot – no chance to win voters over between rounds.

O’Leary was very good at boasting about his accomplishments in business. Media frequently compared him to Donald Trump, ignoring not only the differences between the two men but also the differences between the Canadian and American political systems. Kevin O’Leary might have won the party leadership in a primary-style contest. There was no way he had a chance in a ranked ballot where the only people voting are those who have paid to join the party. I said that in January.

I wonder if he knew all along that he couldn’t win, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to expand his brand. The past three months he has gotten a lot of publicity, probably worth whatever the campaign has cost him.

Scholars are having great fun I am sure looking at the rise of the anti-politician, from Donald Trump in the US to Emmanuel Macron in France and Kevin O’Leary in Canada. It seems to me though that the differences are greater than the similarities, at least as far as the personalities of the politicians is concerned. Maybe there is a worldwide rejection of the political establishment – but there is also no consensus on what should come next.

If I may be so bold as to make a prediction, the anti-politician movement has only a limited amount of time left to it. Anti-politicians are very effective at shaking things up, at pointing out society’s ills and getting people angry. They aren’t as good at actually providing solutions should they be in a position to do so. Also, because they don’t have a clear understanding of how the political and social systems work, they can wind up doing more harm than good.

I suspect, given his first 100 days in office, that President Donald Trump may manage to destroy the Republican Party. Normally a politician wants to wipe out the opposition parties, but Trump is a special case – he may become the first American president with no allies in Congress, which doesn’t bode well with accomplishing anything in a system that depends on checks and balances.

So farewell Kevin O’Leary. We’ll still be able to see you on television, should we wish to, but you won’t be running the country. Given the track record of reality TV stars in government so far, that is probably a good thing.

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