Some people call it armchair politics (a debate that ordinary people have when discussing local issues) or armchair politicians (a person who seems to have a poorly based opinion on every public aspect, debates them all blindly and usually does it with very little to no research) to describe political pundits-individuals who observe from the sidelines, thus the phase armchair.
Armchair politicians are also usually not very informed on the details of the topic but have a very strong opinion on the issue at hand and don't mind letting you know. I have to admit: I love reading, watching, debating and sometimes participating in politics, so I guess without insulting myself or anyone else, I am a self-professed armchair politician.
So my stance (opinion on this issue) is: we all have a voice and are entitled to an opinion. Are we not?
Each year and just about on each issue (specifically during a municipal, provincial and federal elections), I have an opinion. For a lot a people in Labrador, it is no secret that I have a long-standing history with the provincial Liberal party as an advocate and campaign organizer, but I also like to listen to the views of others.
From time to time, my interpretation and view on a certain topic changes by new information and considerations/facts that others bring forward. Which I hope and recommend all elected officials should do.
When I ran for public office as a councillor with the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay (and was successful in being elected five consecutive times), I offered voters a picture of myself that wasn't necessarily issue specific, but instead I told them if elected, I would put "People First" and attempt to keep four basic questions in mind when making decisions:
1. is it in the best interest of the community as a whole?
2. how would the decision affect the budget (meaning is it worth doing and can we afford it?
3. how would we go about implementing the decision in context of existing policies and procedures? and,
4. can you justify, rationalize and defend your decision to the general public? This of course is sometimes hard to do if the pubic does not have all the information you have.
It has been my experience, the armchair politician never ever got near a university door to a political science 101 course and when asked where they derived their so-called political knowledge, it is clear; it is from political chasm such as formal media, social media, news print and of course the coffee shop rumour mill.
Thus, it becomes pretty evident that I would even go so far as to wager a bet to state that most armchair politicians have never had a seat on any town council nor have been a sitting Member of the House of Assembly or the House of Commons.
More importantly, the armchair politician can be easily identified. They usually lack any substantial political credentials/experience while their real political wisdom has come from anything but political involvement. They are only equipped with political jargon and not the true facts.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, armchair politicians are easy to recognize, their message is mostly from a negative perspective, as they verbalize and sometimes write their message\view with an unmistakeable tone of misleading facts and incorrect information. They like to criticize those involved without offering any real useful and helpful advice.
Although, I am sure I speak for all of us when we say we are certainly appreciative that we live in a country such as Canada where all opinions can be heard without fear of government repercussions but I would also like to leave you with the quote and a little recommendation: "Be careful of criticizing those on the arena floor and those involved as you watch from the stands and sidelines."
- Stan Oliver writes from Happy Valley-Goose Bay and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org