Despite the fact that ours is a consumption-driven society madly obsessed with the peccadilloes of our gorgeous pantheon of celebrities, I propose that we talk a bit about politics. That’s right, politics.
Canadian politics. “Show business for ugly people,” some call it. And they may be right.
After all, scan the benches of our House of Commons during any given Question Period, and I daresay there’s not much for the eyes.
Superficially, the guys and gals in the House are well-groomed; but take a closer look, and if they aren’t coyote ugly on the outside, their antics will convince you they’re pretty undesirable from the inside too.
But there’s a reason they are thus; and that reason is you, dear reader. You make up the electorate, the peons enfranchised with voting these gob-shites into office. It’s a fact that you too easily forget, between your scowlings at the nightly parade of political misfits crowding your various screens and your trips to the fridge for the adult beverages of your choosing.
Many of you, even close friends of mine, are completely disenchanted with the choices on hand for political leadership:
They don’t represent us, you whine.
The first-past-the-post electoral model will never give us good results, you snivel.
I’m doing all right, some of you claim, and there’s nothing that the bastards in Ottawa can do anyhow, because even they don’t control the game -- as long as I’m doing okay and my family is all right, I figure we still live in the best gosh darned country in the world!
Well. I’ve got one compound noun for all of this cant and bluster: Horse-feathers!
And I am going to admit something that isn’t often admitted but is probably more true than even I am coming to reluctantly realize.
The problem isn’t the elected, those partisan peasants whipped into shape by their party leaders and henchwomen. The problem is The Electorate.
That's right, dudes and dudettes. YOU’RE the biggest problem of them all. A sizable number of you bitch and complain about the doings on the federal scene, and yet you don’t vote.
Others of you have opinions on just about any political topic of the day that one can manage to name; and yet rarely can you substantiate a scintilla of your claims. Facebook and other social networks are particularly illustrative of this last point.
Now let me admit, democracy isn’t an easy balancing-act. Hog-tied to capitalism, democracy may be just about impossible to achieve in an era where economies have gone global.
And the notion of nation states as autonomous countries directing their own destinies? Well this notion is as laughable as PM Harper’s claims about the transparency and accountability of his style of governance.
But we have got to try, don’t we? If we want to have a fairer, balanced sharing of the resources that we are so richly blessed with?
I’ve got news for you. Better governments-to-come will never happen if we don’t evolve into a better electorate.
The starting point to shaping up is to understand (against the myriad forces trying to convince you of the opposite) that we are Citizens first and foremost in this country called Canada, and not just Consumers.
The next starting point is to understand that what is unfair to the least of us will make the entire project unfair to the majority of us.
That’s right, folks. We need to remind ourselves constantly that we’re in this together right to the end, come Hell or highwater. And from my angle, there ain’t no Rapture coming down the pipe to save us from the mess of issues that are clamouring outside our windows for our immediate attention each and every day.
So get to work, John and Jane Q. Public. Realize you need some schooling in the issues that we expect our federally elected representatives to take in hand.
Get off your smart-freaking-phones and start reading up on the issues that concern you and the would-be legislators that would have you support them.
Start reading the fine print, from as many sources as you can lay your eyes on. Read opinions from contradictory sources.
And start asking questions of those in the know, and those that are currently serving you in your constituencies as your representatives. Examine, in other words, everything.
Thousands of years ago, democracy reared its beautiful head in Greece. Civil society was born at that moment, and some pretty great minds brought their thinking to bear upon this most unique and progressive form of governance. The greatest of these were Socrates and his philosophical scribe, Plato. And it was they who brought us the truth on these matters: The unexamined Life is not worth living.
So go on, folks. Start the self-analysis now. Start examining everything that you can, to ensure that you feel confident in casting a ballot for the mug of your choice.
Because any day now, PM Stephen Harper will drop the writ that begins the countdown to the next federal election. Voting Day might not happen until October; but it could just as easily happen this spring, if Our Stephen gets spooked by the trials to come in the early new year.
And if you don’t want this coming election to be just another exercise in futility, show business for ugly people, you might just want to cast a ballot for some of the beautiful people who will restore Canada to an honourable position, not just in the eyes of our country, but in the eyes of the rest of the world too.
— Having lost his 2,500 volume library in the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, Jeffrey is beginning to fill the void by writing his own. Reach him at jeff.loewen(at)gmail.com