“Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best” –
German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)
Today’s politicians might be forgiven for amending the Iron Chancellor’s observation to something like this: Politics is the art of learning to live with the impossible.
There are plenty of examples in Canada and the United States.
Since Justin Trudeau's formal confirmation that his pledge of a reformed electoral system will not occur, he has been on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism, most of it characterizing him as a liar and a cynic. This is all fair game in politics, but it should be noted that his opponents are just as guilty of promoting their self interest.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?” ― Robert Browning
Mr. Trudeau, meet Mr. Browning.
One thing the Trudeau government cannot be accused of is lack of reach. Its ambitions have carried it into endeavours that the Harper government did not attempt to reach or had no interest in reaching.
On the face of it, the election of Donald Trump in the United States this month and last year’s election of Justin Trudeau in Canada had precious little in common.
The American election was a vile affair, filled with misrepresentation, outright lying, racism, hate and character assassination. The Canadian election was a relatively clean, though hard-fought, campaign that for the most part stayed within the bounds of acceptable political discourse and conduct.