Looking for “a political discourse that could stand to get a whole lot smarter” in Canada (and Charlie Peters’ USA)

Nov 29th, 2023 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Seward, ‘ Looking Inward. 2023. Acrylic. 24”sq.’.

SPECIAL FROM CITIZEN X, BUCKHORN, ON. 28/29 NOVEMBER 2023 — 441ST ANNIVERSARY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S MARRIAGE TO ANNE HATHAWAY. [UPDATED 2 DECEMBER : SEE BELOW]. In my last appearance on this sideroad of the vast electronic highway I ended by alluding to Bonnie Crombie, whose initial fate as possible Ontario Liberal Party leader will be revealed this coming Saturday, December 2, 2023. [SEE UPDATE BELOW].

With the night moving in on a late November temperature of “–4C feels like –11” when I first start here, I feel drawn to deeper worlds than the seldom noted adventures of democracy in Canada’s most populous province. And then the darkness envelops the small forest next door, and I can’t quite see the bench at the top of the slight hill at the edge of the forest.

Now inside, just looking out the window at the dark, on the suddenly enhanced brightness of my PC screen I seem drawn to this headline : “That ship has sailed: Tugboats free large freighter stuck in the Detroit River … The Barbro G had been stuck since Monday morning.”

Part of the attraction is just that I long ago spent a summer working in an engine plant at “Ford’s” in Windsor, Ontario. And I still remember sitting on a bench by the Detroit River in downtown Windsor, looking out at the wild and crazy depths of downtown Detroit, just across a narrow stretch of water (and somewhat ironically, to the north!).

Xpost from Greg MacEachern

Michael Seward, ‘By the Window. 2023. Acrylic. 24” x 36”’.

You might wonder how a ship carrying wheat from Western Canada bound for Italy could actually get stuck in the Detroit River and then be rescued with such comparative ease : “Windsor Harbour Master Peter Berry … explained … that the ship was soft aground, which means it was stuck in mud rather than on rock or on a shoreline … The mud on the bottom of the river is ‘much like a dark toothpaste’ and it has a lot of suction, he said.”

Thinking about the Great Lakes (and then the St. Lawrence Seaway en route to Italy) ultimately brings me back to politics in Canada if not quite Doug Ford’s lamentable Ontario.

But now I remember a recent more elevated Xpost from Greg MacEachern — “Gov’t Relations/Comms (former Parliament Hill, NS Legislature, Halifax City Hall staffer); political commentator via CBC/CPAC.”

His November 23 just-before-9-AM meditation wisely urged “The media isn’t responsible for the Trudeau Liberals’ recent tumble in the polls. But as a recent story about the prime minister’s schedule shows, they’re often helping dumb down a political discourse that could stand to get a whole lot smarter.”’

Charles Peters, 1926-2023

Michael Seward, ‘ The Sun. 2023. Acrylic. 30”sq.’.

And then I come to the recent sad departure of Charles Peters, 1926-2023, founding editor of the still vital Washington Monthly, and a man whose “impact on literary writing was as important as his impact on journalism and politics.”

I go to a bottom book shelf and consult my original paper copies of Mr. Peters’s excellent publication — which he apparently mortgaged his house to get off the ground. I quickly look through one pile that starts July/August 1973 and ends July/August 1982.

Most recently, I see the digital magazine online. And I note especially Gregg Easterbrook’s November 28, 2023 reminiscence on “Charlie insisted that every article enfold The Big Three—reporting, thinking, and writing.”

And as Mr Easterbrook further explains : “His impact on literary writing was as important as his impact on journalism and politics. When the history of this period is written, Peters will be ranked as equal in importance to the literary editors Harold Ross, William Whitworth, Philip Rahv, Arnold Gingrich, and William Shawn … Before Peters, literary nonfiction was too ivory-tower … Charlie was insistent his writers get out of Washington D.C., see things for themselves and interview the midlevel government and business officials who knew what was really going on.”

Shakespeare etc

Michael Seward, ‘Passing through the Landscape. 2023. Acrylic. 24”sq.’

And from here I remember that : “On November 28, 1582, William Shakespeare, 18, and Anne Hathaway, 26, pay a 40-pound bond for their marriage license in Stratford-upon-Avon. Six months later, Anne gives birth to their daughter, Susanna, and two years later, to twins … Sometime after the birth of his own children, Shakespeare set off for London to become an actor and by 1592 was well established in London’s theatrical world as an actor and playwright.”

Somehow, in the new age of AI and a 2024 US election that Donald Trump just might actually win in one sense or another, I think we ought to be paying more attention to the likes of Greg MacEachern, Charles Peters, Gregg Easterbrook, and even William Shakespeare from very long ago across oceans in another part of the world.

Using words more authentically, carefully, effectively, and honestly might go at least some distance to improving a “political discourse that could stand to get a whole lot smarter.”

There is not enough caring about such things in most parts of the world today … And at this moment as I look out the window on a grey early afternoon, already marked by intermittent hints of snow, I can in any case now see the bench at the top of the slight hill, at the edge of the small forest next door.

CW EDITORS’ UPDATE ON ONTARIO LIBERAL LEADERSHIP ELECTION, DECEMBER 2, 2023. As reported by CBC News, in the Ontario Liberal leadership contest Bonnie Crombie “won on the third round of ranked ballot voting after leading the first round and second round, but falling short of the 50 per cent threshold needed to win … She took the leadership with roughly 53 per cent of points needed to win, after finishing with 43 per cent in the first round and 47 per cent in the second round.”

As reported by The Canadian Press and posted by CTV News : “The Liberals had boasted that the leadership race saw the candidates sign up a record number of members, with more than 100,000 people eligible to vote for the new leader – up from 44,000 and 38,000 in the two previous contests … But only a fraction of those members cast ballots last weekend, with 22,827 people voting. The party notes that is higher than the 12,988 Ontario Liberals who cast ballots in the 2020 leadership race and more than the 19,438 in 2013 .”

Citizen X says he has no further thoughts on the matter himself at the moment, except to wish Ms Crombie well. Whatever else, based on her acceptance speech as new party leader Premier Ford probably ought to be worried. At the same time as Bonnie Crombie from the modern Mississauga homeland has wisely urged, all parts of the Ontario Liberal Party today still have a lot of work to do together!

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