I’ve been reading a lot of the post-election articles on Rabble.ca. If you don’t know the site, you should, whether you consider yourself a “political” person or not. (I know that I’m preaching almost entirely to the converted when addressing the readers of this blog, but bear with me because I’m making a point here.) The fact is we all need to be more political in this country, a point made exceptionally well by the many authors on this site.
One of the most recent posts focused on last week’s pathetically low voter turn out. Written as a lament for the democracy we no longer have, the author, Trish Hennessy, rather passive-agressively (but sometimes that’s what’s necessary) argues for a return to the kind of public engagement that was once a major part of Canada’s political landscape. Now, with fewer than three-fifths of our voters bothering to show up at the polls, we have become a nation governed by apathy. Since I am certain that virtually everyone reading this cast their vote last Tuesday, it is up to us to ty to bail out this sinking ship.
Maybe that analogy seems extreme, but how else should we describe a nation in which so much of the electorate has abdicated its role to no one. Like the Exxon Valdez, Canada has become a country without a reliable captain or an effective crew. We’re not just along for the ride; we need to be active participants and we, as a people, can affect the change we, even those no longer participating, demand.
So, why are we limited to the lame and inane options we had on election day? Because not enough of us participate in the discussion (any discussion). Politics are “boring” for most people. But why are they boring? Because no one is talking about things that really matter. From The NDP’s nauseating repetition of the phrase “working families” (really, Jack, it’s time for a new catch phrase, one that actually means something to someone this time) to the Liberal’s worst-foot-forward campaign style to the Conservatives not even bothering to present a platform for three-quarters of the campaign (unless smarmy photo ops and sweaters are now considered a platform among today’s gnat-sized attention spans), our major parties have abdicated from the process just as badly as the people who (don’t) vote for them. But they sure as hell aren’t going to give us anything meaningful until we demand it of them.
I can hear you demanding a solution from me, so I’ll give you one and it’s one that I, myself need to follow, as well. One evening a month, dedicate yourself to our political system. If you’re partial to a particular party or candidate, volunteer with them. If a particular issue is dear to you, join an action committee. If you feel you have opinions to express write an article for a community newspaper or start a blog. Go to town hall meetings. Introduce yourself and your beefs to your local representatives. Write letters to the editor. Hell, just read the newspaper as a start. One evening a month is all it takes. And, if you’re already doing one or more of these things, why not try to bring along someone who isn’t next time?
I don’t intend for this to be some kind of sermon and I know that if anyone needs to heed this advice, it’s me. But, really, if we all do it, imagine the difference it could make.