Sunday, November 18, 2007

We have met the enemy

Good old Pogo. I used to love reading my youngest aunt's stash of Walt Kelly's comic books even though I was too young to really appreciate them at the time.

His wisdom still rings true today. In today's Sun column (Tory would have been sitting prettier under MMP), Christina Blizzard points out a number of trends that threaten democracy - the biggest one of all being voter apathy. First she explores the very different results that MMP would have delivered to Ontario had it been in effect during the last election.

But the way that referendum was thrust on us in a similar manner that FB-funding was announced, left voters with little time to properly sort out the issues in a rational process.

Fear-mongering and paranoia overcame the debates. Personally, I ended up being against MMP and have no regrets on that score, but it was a difficult process trying to sort out the various ramifications of a very complex question. Little information was given to voters before the election. Similarly, John Tory's fatal flaw was to spring FB-funding on us as a campaign platform that allowed the opposing side to run with the fear-ball all the way to the goal line.

Blizzard interviewed Peter MacLeod, of Queen's University's Centre for the Study of Democracy, and received this observation:

"The recent election wasn't a contest of ideas, it was a monologue about one bad idea. Yet Ontarians had no way to tune into a different conversation," he said.

"There was no space for a discussion about any number of issues -- mainly because we've created a political culture where ideas and issues have themselves become dangerous," he said.

"No wonder so many people simply change the channel or pull the plug."

( . . . )

But back to Churchill. He also noted the best argument against democracy is "a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Many potential voters in this province simply sat home Oct. 10. Voter turn-out was a pathetic 52%.

"We may have voted down the referendum, but we're getting perilously close to voting down democracy too. A 52% turnout isn't much of an endorsement and yet I can't believe this is what people want," MacLeod said.

So we can blame the powers-to-be for not educating us enough on the relevant issues and we can blame the fear-mongers for taking advantage of our naiveté.

Or we can start taking responsibility for ourselves and stop letting the nanny-state do our thinking for us.

That means making a real effort to learn about the issues from a variety of sources. It means objectively assessing the pros and cons. It means caring.

And it means getting out to vote.


Anonymous said...

You are preaching to the converted Joanne. My every day discussions reveal that most have no idea what the issues are, and would never check out the internet for discussion on 'political blogs' ("What's a blog?")If it weren't for blogs I would only have MSM for info, and the MainStream reading the Media are not checking the facts, or exchanging ideas.
There are many other factors in voter apathy, but if the electorate is being bombarded with mis-information(Lawand) and small issues being blown out of proportion(FBS) no wonder they can't be interested in voting.

Caveat said...

Most people want drive-through information, as anonymous points out. Ten second sound bites, a paragraph or two of opinion disguised as fact.

I voted against MMP because I didn't like the idea of appointed members and I didn't think we needed more members in the House.

The media ran the Ontario campaign and it is absolutely correct that it was straight fear-mongering and disinformation all the way.

There's a lot of xenophobia out there in our supposedly 'multicultural' and 'inclusive' society, isnt' there?

It's too bad that people don't value the best political system in the world enough to pull their heads out and do some research. Maybe a short trip to a country where people are dying to have the right to vote might wake them up.

Or not.

It's a pretty sad state of affairs and I worry about it a lot - the dumbing down of information, the media manipulation, the concentration of media in a few hands, the propaganda - all geared towards keeping people ignorant and complacent.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

You are preaching to the converted Joanne.

That thought ran through my head as I was writing the post. Anyone bothering to read a political blog would be way ahead of the majority of the population in terms of trying to sort through the spin, and just wanting some political education and debate.

So how to get the message out there? This could be our greatest challenge.

Meanwhile, Kinsella et al continue to take advantage of a public wanting that 'ten second sound bite' that Caveat mentions.

Anonymous said...

Kinsella's not error proof folks. He's getting on in years and there's going to be someone in the wings filling his shoes some day.

One of the Conservative Steves perhaps(and I'm not talking Harper).

It may be that another party will learn from Kinsella and trump him using his own teachings from his books.

The media didn't win this election for McGuinty, Warren did. The media just found, in Warren a coat-tail to ride....they're very good at that.

Greg said...

Funny, eh? I remember Ms. Blizzard as a vocal opponent of MMP. Now, she sounds almost sorry.

liberal supporter said...

Low turnout is only a problem if people are being intimidated from voting. I'd rather have someone admit they don't know the issues and not vote, than toss a dart over their shoulder.

To me it's like having firearms for protection. Some people want to just have a rifle locked away somewhere in the basement, to be retrieved when they need it, while others would like to carry a weapon wherever they go.

The fact that people don't vote doesn't mean they don't deserve the vote. It may mean they are reasonably happy. People become engaged when they see a need for a change in how we are governed.

I like the ideas behind MMP, but I did not vote for it. Too bad there was no comments section on the ballot. I would have gone for an MMP with maybe 5 MMP MLA's, not 30. Something less than the minimum for official party status. And probably no MMP seats if you won any the regular way, especially if you won enough for official party status. I would like the Greens to have a seat or two and that would do it.

Greg said...

I have always believed that if you don't vote you are an idiot, and obviously in this last election, conservative supporters were the biggest idiots. Too many stayed home and let the worst Premier in the history of the province return with bragging rights to multiple majorities with 1 in 5 eliglible voters acutally voting the lying scum bag in.

Gabby in QC said...

Here's further proof that many political "analysts" and/or their headline writers are concocting (I like the word) their own scenarios:

This from the National Post:
**We believed Mulroney: Chretien**
Hubert Bauch, Canwest News Service
Published: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Former prime minister Jean Chrétien yesterday suggested **he and his government were misled** by Brian Mulroney when they agreed to a $2.1-million lawsuit settlement 10 years ago.

Compare the above headline from this one in the Winnipeg Free Press you provided:
**Call cops, Mulroney misled us: Chretien**
Mon Nov 19 2007
By Hubert Bauch
MONTREAL -- Former prime minister Jean Chrétien suggested Sunday **he and his government were misled** by Brian Mulroney when they agreed to a $2.1-million lawsuit settlement 10 years ago.

Now listen to the CBC version AND Mr. Chretien in his own words:
In this clip NOWHERE does Mr. Chretien, to his credit, suggest that Mr. Mulroney misled his government.

"Mulroney misled ..." is a figment of Bauch's & some headline writer's imagination.
Yoo-hoo ... Hollywood is calling you-ooo-ooo!

Ray K. said...

"I have always believed that if you don't vote you are an idiot..."

So making a trip out in order to mark an x (one of thousands) next to the name of career politician 1 or the guy who says "me too" is the non-idiotic thing to do?

Greg said...

If you can't see the difference between John Tory and Dalton McGuinty, wow.