Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Canadian Elections

Those who know me could attest to the fact that I don't talk much about electoral politics. I don't see the state-based political system as a central space to engage in struggle over the meaning of living an ethical and just life. In fact, I think the electoral system, with its roots in liberal ideologies, has many built-in inequalities deeply structuring it. Because of this political analysis, one I'm admittedly not developing in this post, I'm a lukewarm voter at best. I've voted NDP a couple of times when I thought they might win, and Green once when my friend was running for them. Whatever the case, I don't believe that any of the parties would change much in society. And this isn't some narcissistic, relativist argument. I just think that anything other than a devolution/revolution, a mixed-bag of socialist and anarchist political theories if you will, can fundamentally change societies in a way I can support wholeheartedly.

As an example of the futility of the current system, I take none other than the current debate about the televised leadership debate. Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, was up in arms yesterday when she found out that the television consortium that decides who gets to sit in on the debates has decided not to include the Greens alongside the usual suspects: Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc. This decision came after the NDP, Conservatives and Bloc threatened to boycott the debate if the Greens were given a spot on the broadcasts.

Before this sad episode, I was thinking about voting for NDP candidate Paul Dewar, an NDPer who has a real chance of winning in my riding. The same NDP that continuously harkens about bringing in change, about being more equitable, about getting rid of the old parties, can't face up to some healthy challenge from the Greens. Not that the Greens are clean in the entire affair either: they made some deal with the Liberals where their leaders agreed to not run against each other, which apparently led to the Liberals supporting May's appearance in the debates. Whatever. The whole thing is political theatre at its worst. Whenever I follow the news about such items, I feel like I'm in a time machine 2,000 years in the future watching an episode of "The Lost Years: 1700-2100 AD," and it's so funny I want to cry. But then I remind myself that some of the talking heads on the podiums with the beautiful photo-ops in the background not only really believe they might be able to change certain things for those most in need, but many of them will actually have the ability to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people, often, as is the case with liberal, capitalist societies, to the detriment of the majority of folks out there.

So I'll keep following the stories about how Stephen Harper is more masculine than Stéphane Dion, and how Jack Layton would make a better Prime Minister than Elizabeth May, but not without wondering who the fuck cares? What about the fact that we live in a society where the huge majority of people have accepted that a grossly disproportionate amount of indigenous people live in dire poverty? I could list off any number of issues that will not be discussed in any real, sustained manner during these elections, but I won't bother right now. Instead, I'll suggest that those who care about the issues that aren't going to be discussed address these issues in their own ways, amongst their own communities, and let those around them know that they are doing so. And if you want, tell them that you're disengaging from the elections, not because you don't believe in freedom or justice or the fuzzy principles of democracy, tell them it's precisely because you do care. About people, animals, birds, fish, trees, water, and all those other beings and things that animate our world.

No leaders' debates. No political attack ads. No commercials selling you a constructed image. No polite, parliamentary debate about what the definition of torture is. Or whether there are too many immigrants. Or welfare Moms. Or criminals in communities of colour. There are too many inequalities that go unmentioned every day. Because of this, I'm not voting, and this time I'm telling people why.


Tracey said...

That is too bad that you are not voting, as we need more intelligent people to be engaged and to make informed choices during election time, as the right is very organized while the left decides not to vote. There are many issues at stake. Yes the performance, pageantry and posturing are nonsense, but so are the fake falls in soccer but that does not mean you stop watching or you stop playing. The process we have is not going away tomorrow, and it is not abstinence from voting that is going to change it, that is way to small an act to transform what 20 000 000 people believe in. So please, vote so that we do not get the tories back in as a majority party, if we do we may loose some of our gains such as - same sex marriage, status of women, childcare, less public school money, more religious school money, less social policy, more secrecy in government, the sale of water, etc. Not voting in this election means you may be voting for that!

SubVerse said...

great post!