A question of courage

By evoke
January 19, 2011

Two seemingly unrelated editorials appeared adjacent to each other in a Canadian newspaper recently that actually have the same underlying principle: the courage to declare a bold position.

In one editorial, Michael Ignatieff is castigated for not having a focused, positive message for the federal Liberal party. This is just one more in an ongoing stream of criticisms of the Liberals for not having the courage to identify and strongly communicate what it stands for.

The other editorial is on the most effective way to manage crime and punishment in society. It is a pillar of most conservative belief around the world that we need to get tough on crime, have longer sentences and build more prisons (this is not a comment on whether this is right or wrong). Newt Gingrich, as the flag-bearer for conservative America in the 90’s, believed in, and advocated for, this position as strongly as anybody.

Gingrich has now changed his position and feels the system is broken. To hold the position he does within the conservative community and go so firmly against the prevailing view takes a lot of courage. No doubt he will be criticized by many within his constituency and will alienate some potential votes in his rumoured quest for the Republican presidential ticket in 2010.

Gingrich’s bold, unequivocal position gives people a clear understanding of where he stands, which makes it easier for them to make a decision on whether or not to support him. Contrast this with Liberal party leader Ignatieff. In trying to be all things to all people, he stands for nothing and, as a result, can’t find any momentum in his party’s quest for voter support. How can people choose him if they don’t know what he stands for?

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