Why I Belong to No Political Party

It's all Mr. Cooper's fault.

Mr. Cooper was my high school history teacher during an exciting time in federal politics, and he loved to mock the party leaders. Megalomaniac was the Prime Minister; Who? the Leader of the Opposition after (or was it before?) he lost the election. I don't remember what he called the NDP leader. Such epithets probably wouldn't have gone over well with serious adults who thought the leaders of their parties could do no wrong, but for a class stuffed with teens who routinely name-called as part of their language, they got our attention. And they made sure that, as we approached voting age, we didn't start venerating the leaders or a particular party so much we stopped thinking and became mindless baby birdies who with mouths wide open accepted everything our favoured leader or party fed us.

Mr. Cooper made politics fun, a game, and got us dissecting it and the policies of the day with glee. He stirred up our passions (even the stoners, not an easy task!), got us debating, taught us that no one - no leader, no party - is so infallible that they cannot come up with terrible, stupid policies, showed us that when we are not wedded to one party we can see the Emperor is naked but we can also see brilliance, even in the parties our parents hated.

By not joining a political party, I remain free to deride the bad policies, the stupid tactics, the destructive strategies in any of them, but I am also free to admire their good policies too - in all of them.

I miss Mr. Cooper. Cancer took him too early. I imagine him sitting in the best room of God's house cackling over the shenanigans in Parliament, coming up with deadly accurate monikers for the Prime Ministers that have come and gone, the BQ - I'd loved to have heard his ideas of Lucien Bouchard! - and the earnest Green Party. I've wondered what light his caustic humour would've shone on the pretensions of parties and leaders alike. And what he would've had to say about the diminishment of our Parliament's power over the government. He would have had a field day during the prorogation crisis, for sure.