Why I'm Not Running

By:  Rachel Marsden

Last week, I received an e-mail that made me wonder if I was being "Punk'd".

"I am wondering if you might consider becoming a candidate in Toronto Danforth for us," wrote Conservative Party organizer, Georganne Burke. "It would be a fun, high-profile campaign, with Jack Layton and Deborah Coyne as your opponents."

Hanging out with federal NDP leader Jack Layton and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau's "baby mama" for a couple of months sounds more like a bad reality TV show than a serious political opportunity. The experience would have been like a one-night stand: A quick, dirty, wild romp, zero satisfaction, and a really bad hangover.

I briefly considered the request, as evidenced by my official response to related media queries: Gut-busting laughter. And should I ever decide to get a full-frontal lobotomy, I would be happy to reconsider my position -- because that's precisely what it would take for a political columnist to run for public office under the leadership of someone (Stephen Harper) they've accused of lacking any sort of political vision or ability to dress himself, flip-flopping on issues critical to conservatives, and possessing "the charisma of a mortician."

Any credible pundit would make a horrible candidate, as it appears the party has finally realized. As the National Post reported, the Conservatives now consider me to be "too high-profile".

What a crock -- political parties recruit big-name candidates all the time. The difference is that while those other "high-profile" types would no doubt repeat the party's daily talking points like good little automatons, I would take the memos from headquarters, cut them up into snowflakes, hang them on my Christmas tree, and then go out and say whatever the heck I felt like saying. And script deviations make great "high-profile" copy.

There's no room for speaking one's mind in our Canadian system. If your leader doesn't have a vision, then tough luck -- you had sure better not be coming up with one, either.

Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, drove this point home when he called the American political system "dysfunctional" because U.S. politicians have a pesky habit of speaking up, rather than toeing the party line to suit the leader like they do here in Canada. Canadian politicians are more whipped than Brad Pitt since he hooked up with Angelina Jolie.

Political columnists with any credibility couldn't follow talking points if their lives depended on it. We're generally big-mouthed, creative types with strong opinions and a clear vision of where we think things ought to be going -- unlike our politicians.

American commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly have been far more influential in shaping the political landscape from outside the system than any one politician could ever hope to be on the inside. What our country desperately needs if it's ever going to change political direction is more Rush Limbaughs and fewer political sycophants.

Should one of us blowhards end up getting elected, you can bet that we'd be duct-taped to a backbench with a large sock stuffed in our mouth for the duration of the parliamentary session.

Political commentators should be loathed by members from all parties -- because absurdity and stupidity aren't the exclusive domain of any one of them. A good pundit is like a reflective storefront window that politicians like to blame for making them look fat, instead of their cheeseburger habit.

So I'll be spending this election campaign doing what I enjoy most: Lampooning political idiocy right here on these pages. And, as usual, no one will be immune.