Politicians Should be Setting the Example, Not Being the Example

When I see my 5-year-old son start to get worked up I’ll ask him to go to a cozy space and stay there until his body feels calm and he’s ready to speak without yelling.  He’s 5 and is learning to self-regulate.  He has big emotions and he isn’t so great at managing his behaviour when he is facing stress.


(Source: https://unsplash.com/search/photos/grumpy)

The two basic reactions to fear, fight or flight, is in our biological make-up. As we grow most of us learn how to regulate those responses and employ self-control over our behaviour.  We learn early to not act on our ‘big feelings’ but to take a step back and calm down before we chose our next course of action.

When email first became commonplace, I can remember my first lesson in writing in anger and hitting that send button before I’d given myself a chance to calm down.  It was a harsh lesson and one I have not had to repeat, thankfully.  Sometimes in the moment we react without thinking.  The part of our brain responsible for regulating our thoughts and actions shuts down and we speak from a more primal basic level.  We may yell, lash out break something in anger or frustration – and it can be near impossible to take those things back.

Social Media has a built-in fail-safe for just such occasions.  After all those words that you’ve typed aren’t seen by anyone until you hit ‘post’

So why, as leaders, have politicians not learned that posting something in anger is not ok?  Especially from them.  Sure, they are human, but they are also in a position where they should really know better.  They were chosen to LEAD and so they should be setting a good example.  They should be rising above those baser instincts.

I know you are all immediately thinking of Donald Trump – he’s probably the most obvious example, but our local politicians haven’t been behaving very well either.

Earlier this year Carol-Anne Meehan newly elected Councillor for one of our city wards received backlash for posting threatening comments on Facebook.  She has since apologized but you can read the story here.

Our Mayor Jim Watson isn’t without social media problems either.  Check out this exchange from November 14th where the mayor accuses someone of ‘anger management problems’.


(screen shot of @JimWatson Ottawa taken November 14, 2018)

And then just days later he reacted in anger using insults against a former radio host who had issue with the city’s current transportation infrastructure. (source).

Do I believe that politicians should just accept harassment and bullying from the public? Absolutely not.  I am 100% ok with politicians setting boundaries with people who hurl insults and threats their way.  But where does the line get drawn?  Why do politicians think it’s ok to post replies like this when a person asks a questions, expresses anger or displeasure about a policy?

I have a message to give to our leaders: Go to your cozy place, take some deep breaths and count to ten before you hit ‘post’.

facebook.pngAre our politicians behaving no better then children? https://wp.me/p3QRy0-k8E

twitter.jpg Are our politicians behaving no better then children? : https://wp.me/p3QRy0-k8E

One thought on “Politicians Should be Setting the Example, Not Being the Example

  1. I totally agree with your conclusion. Politicians are human beings. But being in a position of power, they ought to set an example.
    Maybe governments – federal, provincial, municipal – need to take social media training more seriously for elected officials.
    Maybe the problem needs to be addressed at an earlier stage in people’s life, in schools and universities. Just as bullying awareness is being taught, social dialogue might have to be taught. This way, once these new generations come to power, they will have a better grasp of how to address the public and foster constructive dialogue.

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