#WHATILEARNEDABOUTPOLITICS by Graham Steele

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It is not politicians who will lead the change. The only person who can change our politics is the engaged citizen.  —Graham Steele

Echoes of many, but said by a former politician it is refreshing. Nova Scotian or not, if you are unhappy about provincial GOVERNMENT or baffled by it-, a r-e-a-d of this book is a good idea for a rainy afternoon. Ignoring the never talk religion or politics rule today. (Okay, when have I kept that rule?) Here's a Book review of sorts:

Shared the podium last week in Port Hawkesbury with former NS Finance Minister and Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Graham Steele. Nonsense, fiction and politics—( you can see the connection). I bought the book. All I can say after reading Graham Steele's book this past week is we need a (r)Evolution. But I've said that before. Or what are poets for?

The book gave me some background that was eye opening because we lived mostly in DC during the time frame this book chronicles—the politics in our face were of a different sort. We had an exit route map and survival kit under our bed there for a spell. We lived, at times, in a kind of end of the world movie.

We came back to NS asking what happened—How did this shade of blue become the new orange? 'We' being greenishorangeish types.

Steele is a Rhodes Scholar and the book is, as we'd hope—intelligent. Better yet, he's a great storyteller---the book reads really well, full of great moments. As I flew through the pages, my heart was sinking. It was discouraging to see that the workings of provincial legislature are as dysfunctional as most of us think they are. The behind closed door deals, the decisions made for best re-election chances etc. Everything those as jaded as me (towards institutions) suspect, but here—confirmed.

Kudos to Nimbus for this book. And for Steele's steely courage. The book is candid and Steele doesn't let himself off the hook either or defend the NDP's fall after its slow and steady rise. Nor does he demonize individuals. It's almost like a handbook, a cautionary tale for wannabe provincial politicians.

The bright side is to see how many politicians of all stripes are honest =---and do work hard for their constituents. But, yep, no matter what political leaning you have or don't, if you read this book, you will come away with: the system is so broken. Steele explains his aha moment just before he resigned. He writes:

It struck me then, forcefully, that there was hardly any point who sat in my chair or who was on which side of the house. None of us was dealing with the real issues. There was no fundamental difference between us. We were playing out a political charade where our actions and reaction were dictated by our roles. I looked around the chamber as if I were seeing it for the first time and finally understood the futility of partisan politics.

It's a conclusion many of us reach from the outside not by doing the hard work of running and serving. But here is Steele's strength—instead of saying 'throw up your hands and walk away', he challenges every reader.

It is not politicians who will lead the change. The only person who can change our politics is the engaged citizen.

Take action. Be engaged wherever you can. What every one does can make difference. Just like the words of my dear old Papa. Or in the words my wise mother passed down from my grandmother: "Whenever you are in any kind of trouble, start by scrubbing the floor. "

Yep, I just hear Trace Chapman singing in my ears. Off to re-read the Ivany Report and scrub.