Growing up, I hated Kool-Aid. You know the drink. That little packet of powder that you mixed with a jug of water and 19 cups of sugar. OK, maybe not 19 cups, but you get my point. As a kid, Kool-Aid was too much work, too much waiting. You had to mix the drink, add the sugar, wait until everything had absorbed. And whatever you did, don’t ever drink it without the sugar mixed in. Yuck!
As an adult, Kool-Aid no longer meant the “fun” packets, but took on a new meaning. No, not the Jonestown nonsense, but in politics. The phrase “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has been applied more to thoughtlessly towing the party line in politics. That’s not fun at all, but it is easy.
Two of my grandparents were members of major political parties, on opposing sides no less. Those family gatherings were always fun. It was expected that your turkey dinner had a side of politics. But if you were old enough to vote and didn’t exercise that right, you weren’t allowed to speak at the table about politics. Thank you Grandma B!
Those conversations at the family table spurred my life-long interest in politics. Not just federal or provincial politics, but also at the local level, and other countries. What I like about politics is big ideas. What I dislike is the art of compromise where the big idea looks nothing like it was meant to be, once it is implemented.
I dabbled in being a member of a party, three different ones at different times actually. Those were not great experiences for myself, or those other party members. My main issue was that I have too many ideas and beliefs about things and an inability to agree to that with which I disagree. Political compromise and favouritism be damned.
There is a famous Groucho Marx quote where he said he did not want to belong to a club that would accept him as one of its members. I have come to realize that the phrase describes me well.
At one former newspaper that I worked for, my then-new coworkers presided with glee at a membership card burning ceremony. There may be photos out there of this, but I digress.
My dislike, no my disdain, for the political Kool-Aid comes from the expectation that as a Kool-Aid drinker, you are to blindly follow whatever the party platform or edict on high requires, even when logic, reason, and compassion says otherwise.
This disdain continues to grow as the pandemic grows into this larger, far more consuming third wave. Science says one thing – politics and art of political compromise say another. Politics wins, and we all appear to lose. One politician says they are following the science, but following and doing are two different things.
It is frustrating to sit and report, week after week, of more restrictions, more outbreaks, more infections, and more deaths. One of my kids said the other day that this all sucks. I can’t disagree with that assessment.
I believe more and more people are feeling this way. School is back to online learning only. You can’t go play golf, basketball, or soccer anywhere. But you can still order parcels online. Priorities of course. A year of “progress” is lost.
You can tell cynicism has set in. I think this is why it is difficult to think that the government, any government, has a handle on the situation. The government [pick one] says it has a plan, and it is working. It is the other government’s fault things are messing up. It looks to me more like two kids have made a mess and are finger pointing at each other saying the other one is at fault.
If I liked Kool-Aid, maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much. Good thing I don’t like the stuff.
Note – This column was edited to change ending a sentence with a preposition. Thanks DG. Once an editor, always an editor.