Jenny Kwan, meet Julian Assange. You guys have a lot in common.
There are two stories in the news that are seemingly unrelated yet emblematic of our times: the latest release of top secret documents by Assange’s Wikileaks group, and Mutiny on the Good Ship NDP, led by long-suffering MLA Jenny Kwan.
The former story deals with leaked cables on everything from what the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe said about the first lady of Nigeria, what the Secretary of State thinks of Canada’s foreign ministry, to whether Angela Merkel is angry at General Motors, or not (German is a difficult language to gauge, emotionally speaking).
The Wrath of Kwan saga, on the other hand, deals with a litany of complaints about the leadership of the NDP, which essentially boil down to: She’s mean, I don’t like her, I want my birthday present back.
Both stories speak to one of the biggest plagues of our day: The failure to synthesize information and figure out what’s truly important.
In the case of Wikileaks, it’s the growing frequency of massive dumps of data without any context. More disturbing than the actual release of the information – top secret and all – has been the abject failure of news organizations around the world to separate the wheat from the chaff. Ninety per cent of what has been “reported” so far amounts to little more than idle bureaucratic gossip – which, following in the mold of celebrity journalism, seems to qualify as news.
As for B.C.’s NDP – well, what can you say? The party has the best chance it’s had in almost a decade to regain office. The governing party is in shambles and widely distrusted. The list of candidates to replace Gordon Campbell is pitifully weak. And yet here are 13 dissident MLAs, most of whom would struggle to find a job serving Slurpees at the 7-Eleven post-politics, seeking the head of their leader, Carole James. For what? For rebuilding the party from two MLAs in 2001 to 35 in 2009, doubling popular support from 21 per cent to 42 per cent? For trying to make the party appealing to a broad swath of British Columbians so that they might, just might, actually win next time?
Well, screw that. What’s important, according to Kwan, is the internal democratic workings of the NDP. Right. Because that’s what people vote on when they go into the polling booth – how well a leader incorporates the doctrinaire opinions of party dullards such as Jenny Kwan, Harry Lali and Leonard Krog.
Democracy is messy. People say things they shouldn’t say and do things that, on reflection, they might wish to take back. Assange and Kwan both want to blow up that which they can’t control, seeking a sort of purity of purpose that has no place in the modern world. To that end I say: get a room, or start a blog.