The Villagers Are Getting Restless
“You arrive at a village, and in this calm environment, one starts to hear echo.”
Every day I watch the political debate pass through my various timelines on social media and in the mainstream media. I’m being generous in calling it political debate because it is less debate than ideological posturing, venting of frustration of anger and simply joining the choir to sing along, regardless of what they’re singing.
Occasionally, I see or read something that is intellectually provocative but not often. Usually it’s just more of the same uninformed, reactive comments that are based on emotional reactions and lack of knowledge. It usually starts the same way. Either some media columnist writes an opinion piece that brings out the crowd or someone on social media shares a blog post or writes an opinion that causes their friends and followers to comment without much thought.
Here’s a case in point. It’s from one of my FB friends. She is a member of the Conservative Party but like me, fed up with the duplicity, the games and the mismanagement of all parties, including the Conservatives. She received a call from the Conservative Party fund-raising machine and that prompted this short tirade.
“Well…well….well…this is a first in my book, being a card carrying member of the Conservatives, just received a call from the party, about Senate reform….REFORM!!! I want it abolished…period. She then advised me that they [Senators] would now be elected for one term only, and there would be consequences for bad behavior .Then she went on about a donation, so I waited …and waited for her to finish her sales pitch! So I said do her…I guess you guys have been living in a bubble, cause us tax payers or broke, we have nothing left to give…every level of Government has taken and taken…the well is dry , her response to me was…well if you can’t give that much you could give a smaller donation ..I told her that when the Government that we the people put in power, takes our needs ahead of their own…give me a call, and hung up on her!!! I am so sick of all levels of Government right now!! She is so lucky she got me on a good day, cause I’m not normally that friendly!! ARRRRR!!”
I happen to share at least some of her opinion and don’t fault her for her rant but what gives me pause and causes me to believe we’re in a lot of trouble as a society are the comments that followed her post.
“THEY ARE NOT GETTING ONE PENNY FROM ME”
Well – that’s short and to the point and it’s an opinion that is difficult to argue with. If you don’t agree with the performance, you shouldn’t support it. I found this comment encouraging. Not so much, the next one.
“That’s why Tim cannot fight Liberals. We are tapped out but Liberals get to have special union dues levy handed to them complements of Working Families and Teachers Unions.”
The fund-raising call was from the federal Conservatives led by Stephen Harper. The provincial Conservatives led by Tim Hudak are not involved in or campaigning for Senate reform. It’s a distinction that was lost on this particular commenter. I think it’s fine to be upset with political parties and with government but I also think it’s important that you have the parties, their policies, their leaders and their jurisdictions properly identified before you enter the verbal fray or – pray tell – formulate an opinion.
“I cannot believe anyone would think [name withheld] stupid for donating to a political party. It’s how our system works, unfortunately.”
That prompted this solution:
“Then let big business open their wallets. Quit coming to the little people. They’re the ones who usually benefit the most by whose in power.”
I imagine that would be the same big business that everyone complains about having too much influence on government; something that was not lost on this next commenter.
“That’s bad too. Government should pay but electioneering with stupid lawn signs and vote buying should be banned!”
Government should pay? We’re the government, or at least, we are the ones who fund government. We did have a system in place where political parties received a nice chunk of change every year from taxpayers based on the number of votes cast for them in the previous election. It totaled about $50 million and to their credit, the federal Conservatives eliminated the tax-payer subsidy. It’s bad enough that donations to a federal political party receive a 75% tax credit from the government. Why on God’s earth anyone would want to have taxpayers fund political parties escapes me.
But there it is. Eliminate fund-raising and have ‘government’ pay the freight and while we’re at it, let’s ban ‘stupid lawn signs and vote buying’. I share the sentiment about vote buying although I admit I have no clue as to how you would accomplish it. But it seems to me that if we can’t stop politicians from using our money to buy us, perhaps we could refuse to be bought and start casting our votes on things like integrity, accountability and transparency rather than the latest promised entitlement.
It takes two to make a bribe work; someone willing to offer the bribe and someone willing to accept it. We need to start remembering that when we criticize vote buying.
The original poster ended the discussion with this.
“At one point it was good to donate…put your money were your mouth is….now politics and are so different, they take your money ,and do with it as they please, the hell with the small guy that you in there!!”
Perhaps she’s on to something. If we can’t make our politicians listen to us and keep their words then perhaps we can hit them where it really hurts. Perhaps we can stop funding lies and cynicism and put our money where our values are rather than our ideologies.
And that’s the real reason I posted this series of comments. It is by no means unique. I see stuff like this every day and it’s just one example of the mounting frustration that is out there and, unfortunately, the all to frequent lack of critical thought that accompanies it.
We need to get better informed and we need to stop seeing each other as the enemy.
I believe that if most of us stopped yelling at each other for a few moments and actually listened to each other, we might find that there is far more common ground between folks regardless of the political party they’ve supported in the past. We might remember that we’re Canadians or Americans or whatever first and right or left second. That might actually give us just a little more influence over the political process than we have now because right now, we are merely treated like sheep to be sheared by benign wolves in shepherds’ clothing.
We’ve allowed politics to polarize us to the point that we have reduced political thought down to stereotypes and most of the stereotypes are exaggerated extremes or just flat out wrong.
If nothing else, however, this little series of posts ought to be a warning bell for the Conservatives. There is trouble in Paradise folks and increasing number of the villagers are unhappy. It may be time for Stephen Harper to start delivering the open government; the accountability, the transparency and the integrity he promised before he was first elected rather than falling back on the same tired old ploys of handing out goodies with borrowed money.
In fact, it may be a good idea to start try unifying Canadians, perhaps work with the Premiers to tear down some of the political barriers and try to do a little nation-building.
Certainly the old approach of demonizing the left and buying votes seems to be starting to wear a little thin.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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