How many future politicians are Ala Buzreba?

In the world of the eight-minute social media news cycle, I'm approximately 33 years late to the party of writing about Ala Buzreba's tweets as a teenager.

CTV News (and pretty well every other news agency; I just picked CTV because that's what I saw in my Facebook feed that reminded me that I wanted to write on this) has reported that Calgary-Nose Hill Liberal candidate Ala Buzreba has resigned as the Liberal candidate amid some tweets she made as a teenager coming to light. The article I linked has some screengrabs of the things she's said. 

Ms. Buzreba did the right thing in resigning. If she hadn't resigned, her candidacy would have become a liability for the other campaigns in her area, and potentially, the entire country. These stories have a way of doing that.

Ms. Buzreba was brave in resigning. If she hadn't done so, every conversation her volunteers had at the doorsteps with voters would have inevitably come back to the tweets. She'd have a ton of people defending her, and a ton more hating on her. A few comments she made years ago derailed her political ambitions. She did the right thing in resigning. As a campaigner, and as a voter, I think that it was the right thing for her and her campaign.

But the fact that it was the right thing is simply ludicrous.

The fact that pulling out of the race, because she said something stupid as a teenager, was the right decision is hugely harmful to our democracy. We're only seeing shreds of this now, but in five or ten years, this is the kind of thing that will take brilliant women and men out of the political realm. This scandal is a symptom of a poisonous "gotcha!" political culture, combined with a massive generational disconnect.

I wonder how many other candidates would be in the same situation as Ms. Buzreba if they had been born 15 years later... I've heard candidates for public office say stupid things. But alas, they didn't tweet it.

I have around 1200 Facebook friends, and 600-800 people I follow on Twitter. Many of those people are around my age. And nearly all of them have said stupid things on the internet. Hell, I say stupid things on the internet all the time. Many of the people I know would probably make excellent statespeople, but at the moment, they are crippled by tweets.

My generation, and any other that grows up with social media, will face a problem if we keep treating politicians this way: total lack of representation. The internet has changed the way we connect, and if you think someone saying something stupid on the internet when they were 16 is a horrifying affront to morality, then you probably wouldn't fit in well with most twenty-somethings.


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