Labels and Brands

I’m a bit of a hipster-I usually get into bands “before they’re cool” and I grow tired of them by the time they hit a mainstream audience. I have one grievous sin against any hipster credibility though:

I like the Tragically Hip.

You see, to the fans of complex or obscure music, the Hip are a band associated with drunken loutish fans, hooting and shouting as they chase the bespectacled kids out of the room, and liking the Hip is an instant indicator of diminished intellectual capacity. To those people, that actual music and lyrics of the band are irrelevant: they hate them for their fans. So when the geeks and cool kids roll their eyes at Hip fans, they inadvertently catch me in their condemnation. One particular hipster/goth friend of mine in high school once pointed at me and said with sadness in her voice  “oh he doesn’t know who the Propellerheads are: he’s a Tragically Hip fan”. I think she even petted my big dumb head to comfort me.

It’s the cost of being included in any large membership group: you end up being judged by the lowest, most visible element, instead of those who actually represent your group. Today, the Canadian press and Twitter are ablaze with discussion on the revelation of the vikileaks source, and many are painting this as a slight to the reputation of every Liberal party member. But this staffer with bad judgement and a grudge did not, and does not speak for me as a Liberal. However, in his well-delivered and sincere apology, Bob Rae does speak for me as a member. Any organization of people will have within its members the wise and the foolish, the ethical and the sleazy, and sometimes even the good ones make bad choices. Good leaders recognize the misstep, correct it, and apologize for it happening. Bad leaders pretend that any wrongdoing is a mystery to them and they have no responsibility for their party member’s actions (though they are quick to take credit for every success).

But that’s the nature of the beast: when you’re a part of the club, you get painted with the club’s colours. And you get lumped in with anyone who has ever been in the same colours. I’m suffering through that right now. Several of the city Councillors responsible for the badly planned budget and tax freeze have their “Liberal affiliations” mentioned in any negative article, and so the anti-Liberal sentiment gets pumped up again. I only speak for myself as a member of the Liberal Party, not as a representative of any level of the organization itself, but as a Liberal I want you to know that those Councillors do not represent my Liberal values:

  • A budget that draws from allocated reserve funds and creates the potential for incurring more city debt is not sensible.
  • A budget that cuts $1 million to affordable housing, throwing away an established long-term housing strategy for a plan scrawled onto the back of cocktail napkin 2 hours before a council meeting, is not responsible.
  • And a budget that cuts $500 000 from the funding to improve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities is not compassionate.

So, no matter what their history or membership card may state, please believe me when I say that these Councillors are not my kind of Liberal.

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