Some acts are just impossible to follow - Denny Scott editorial
From politics to our new corporate overlords, many people and organizations seem ready to double down on the experience of former leaders being better than the ambition of new candidates and it could lead to some dangerous situations in the future.
Let’s look at Disney first. The gigantic company, which has expanded by purchasing other media companies, taking a huge bite out of the streaming network, is now looking at the future under the auspices of former leader 71-year-old Bob Iger, just shy of three years after he stepped down.
Iger has been brought back after his predecessor/successor Bob Chapek had problems like significant stock losses, a pay dispute with The Black Widow herself Scarlett Johansson and, probably the most public problem, retreating from a battle against Florida politicians with their law to restrict LGBTQ+ discussions in classrooms. Chapek, who had been in charge of Disney’s amusement parks before he took over for Iger, recently oversaw billions of dollars in losses related to streaming and some of his other decisions.
Iger has a long history with the company and oversaw some of its most successful years, so it makes sense he would be brought back to right the ship. Investors seem to think so too, with shares jumping six per cent after the announcement was made, but it begs the question, how long can Iger keep it up? And who can take over when there’s no safety net?
Staying south of the border, we can, of course, turn to former President Donald Trump whenever we need an example of how things shouldn’t be done. Trump wants to be president again, despite being the only president in history to be impeached twice and despite the fact that he, figuratively speaking, has blood on his hands from the Jan. 6 riots.
He has so much support among voters that his own party is treading very carefully while trying to convince voters they need to look to the future with their next candidate.
Unlike the Disney situation, the Republican Party has Trump trying to get back into the White House, with some members saying he never should have been in power. Others, like Republican Paul Ryan, are saying Trump’s time has come and gone.
“I am a ‘Never-Again Trumper,’” the former House Speaker said recently in an interview with ABC News (also owned by Disney, not that it matters, but it is interesting). “Why? Because I want to win, and we lose with Trump. It was really clear to us in 2018, 2020 and now in 2022.”
Ryan has said the new swing vote in U.S. politics comes from suburban voters who may like the ideals of the Grand Old Party, but are not in favour of bringing Trump back.
“I think anybody not named Trump… is so much more likely to win the White House for us,” he told Fox Business Network (one of the few Fox properties that Disney didn’t buy, again, for interest’s sake).
Unlike Trump (who took to Twitter to blast the former House Speaker), Ryan isn’t attacking Trump. He lauds the successes Trump had in office, but says he isn’t the future of the GOP.
Unlike the Disney situation, Trump coming back to office doesn’t offer the same chances for success according to the pundits, but that doesn’t keep his base from wishing it so.
For another example, we can come back north of the border where Elizabeth May has returned to lead the beleaguered federal Green Party.
May won the leadership race earlier this month, returning to the party she captained from 2006 to 2019. She won the leadership race on the sixth ranked ballot. May will take chare of the party alongside Jonathan Pedneault as soon as they can amend the party’s constitution to allow for co-leadership.
The party is in rough shape, having only garnered 6.5 per cent of the popular vote in the 2019 federal election and winning just three seats, meaning it’s not recognized as an official party in the House of Commons. May stepped down after that, and, under embattled former leader Annamie Paul, the party fell even further behind, taking only 2.3 per cent of the popular vote in last year’s election.
May wants to rebuild the party, saying that the Greens are the only party people can trust with the environment.
Like 76-year-old Trump and 71-year-old Iger, May, at 68, could be nearing retirement.
All three situations leave questions as to how long companies, countries and political parties can go back to the same well
before these leaders can no longer lead (or no longer get the votes to lead). Then again, “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion remained as Mayor of Mississauga through her 93rd year, so maybe I’m worrying 20 years too soon.