Kevin O'Leary skipped the last Conservative leadership debate. Instead, he held his own event at a near by hotel. Brent Rathgeber writes that, more than anything else, O'Leary's no show shows that O'Leary is profoundly ignorant about how politics work:
O’Leary claims he boycotted the debate because the format, with all the candidates on stage at once, was unproductive and boring. The people I talked to in Edmonton weren’t buying it; they said O’Leary stayed away because it was a bilingual event and he didn’t want more exposure for his lousy French. (He needn’t have worried; apart from the moderator, very few people at the debate were actually speaking French, and those who were spoke it slowly enough so that even unhyphenated Anglos like me could follow it.)
Whatever his real reason, his decision to flout the rules and run his own event says volumes about O’Leary’s approach to politics. He’s a lone wolf — someone who’s used to getting his own way. He plays by his own rules and is prepared to ignore the ones he finds the least bit inconvenient. He’s already hinting that he might skip the last officially sanctioned debate if the format isn’t changed.
But the format isn’t the issue here — O’Leary’s attitude towards party politics is. Superficially, the worlds of politics and business have a few things in common. In both fields you need leadership skills and an ability to inspire people – and you won’t get far without a healthy sense of self-confidence. But when you own your own business, you can fly solo — making decisions on your own, taking the wishes of others into account only when they’re regulators, or customers.
That’s not how politics works. Canada may have fallen into the habit of letting its politics revolve around party leaders to an unhealthy degree, but politics here is still not a field in which you can freelance. Business leaders can surround themselves with loyal lieutenants. Party leaders and prime ministers are surrounded by ambitious rivals, braced to take over the minute they stumble.
Prime Ministers and presidents have to accomplish their goals by cooperating with a legislature. Donald Trump is just learning that. Obviously, Mr. O'Leary hasn't learned that.
He simply doesn't get it.
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