Ah, time for some personal opining, as opposed to direct reporting and coverage of what has developed thus far.
Now, back in the day, I was one of those people who mocked Twitter. I thought the concept of it was a little silly, and that it was basically another means for self-centered people who wanted to let the world know every last little detail that was going on in their lives. And while some people may use twitter for that, I think it has at least evolved into a good communications tool for getting messages and slogans out, especially for political campaigns.
However, there has been a question over whether politicians should even dive into the murky waters that is the Twitterverse. Many, especially American politicians, have condemned the use of Twitter simply due to it being a place for users to attack, condemn, and otherwise bother those politicians who have a twitter feed. And then, of course, there's American politicians who use it to throw around questionable material...
As Canadians, we like to think that we're a genteel sort; wouldn't hurt a fly and ever so polite. Well, that assumption kind of goes to the wayside if you've ever viewed a flame war online. For those of you not too familiar with the term 'flame war', effectively it's just an increasingly hostile conversation between two or more online commentators.
Now, having said that, I stumbled upon a bit of a flame war myself that I think is worth talking about.
Several of the people I follow on twitter have taken to attacking some of the NDP Leadership candidates over the notion of removing corporate and union donations from political campaigns. The problem isn't that people don't support the idea, rather the problem is that people think this slate of leadership candidates should lead by example and exclude union donations from their leadership bid.
The problem here is a matter of delicacy. I don't like gossip, it's just too tawdry for my tastes, which is why I'm going to do my best to keep this as anonymous as possible. Effectively, as far as I can see, a supporter of one campaign started the whole ball rolling by actively asking a different campaign about whether or not they were taking union donations during their leadership bid.
The campaign responded by saying that they weren't going to effectively handicap themselves during the leadership race, and that the policy that was brought forward is much more meaningful when held to the scope of the entire province.
Needless to say...I don't think that was the answer the original questioner was looking for, as it evolved into a greater level of bashing with more people (one of whom I would argue is incredibly high profile) joining in to condemn the response and attempt to tout a 'mightier than thou' attitude towards their own supported candidates.
I imagine this will continue until the campaign at question stops attempting to reply, and even then, I imagine a few others will continue to jump on them in the name of supporting their own candidates.
Now, some of this might sound like gossip, rather than something that needs to be talked about. I must disagree and now explain to you all why I've decided to talk about this at all.
I know that candidates can't take responsibility for the actions of their supporters; but I do think we can at least expect our candidates to remind supporters that at the end of the day we're all on the same team. If you've picked your candidate, then by all means, support them by donating money or volunteering...But you probably shouldn't take to twitter or facebook or anywhere and start attacking a campaign.
It's bad form. Yes, there are questions that can be asked of any campaign, but there must also be tact.
There was a level of discourse set by these four men, and most of them have already spoken about the need to change politics and the hostile approaches taken in the debating of policy. They have called on us all to step up and change the way we do politics; so it's rather disheartening to then see supporters of one campaign involve themselves in the old school attacks and vitriol that has existed in politics for far too long.
On a technical note, I can't speak to the finances of any of the campaigns. I don't know which have received money from unions during this leadership bid and which have not; having said that, I would venture to guess that in some form or another all of the campaigns have received or will receive donations from union, corporate, and personal sources before the leadership campaign is through.
Yes, we can aspire to be better. And all of the candidates have spoken in favour of getting big money out of politics; so, before we start attacking one campaign for turning away from this ideal for the leadership contest, let's be sure that all the other campaigns haven't already done the same. In the end, civility is always better than hostility any day.