April 28, 2011

Not in Our Names.


Some people have asked why I am so invested in this particular election.

And they have ever right to be curious, for I have not always been this way.
While I have always been a huge fan of the more micro-politics of relationships and social structures, the macro-political interest waned. For most of my life I was Geo-politically ignorant, and then I became overwhelmed and willfully ignorant. I felt powerless, and getting involved in politics did nothing but reinforce that feeling.

So, why now?

Why get so involved now when it is clear that Canadians have exercised their right to maintain willful ignorance to the point that we may be the least powerful than any other time in history? (Don't believe me? Check out how many rules, laws, bi-laws, mandates, regulations, policies, etc we live under compared to a hundred years ago. It will shock you.)

It would be easy to chalk it up to be aghast at what Harper has done to us, but it is more personal than that.
I have realized that he has been doing this to us for FOUR YEARS and I had NO IDEA.
What the hell was I doing when he was fucking over our aboriginal communities, and sending detainees back to be tortured, and cutting off planned parenthood funding, and attempting to de-regulate banks, and cutting women's advocacy funding by 50%, and breaking campaign regulations to buy his way into parliament for the second time, and weakening regulations to protect us from pesticide carcinogens and GMOs, and then turning around and cutting the long form census down to only "pertinent details" because what do you need the people's information for when it is not in your design to govern for them anyway...?

What the hell was I doing?
Feeling powerless and pretending that I didn't realize it.

And I have a sneaking suspicion that too many others were as well, because if it wasn't for the other parties citing him for non-confidence of the House, would most of us even have realized what the hell he was doing over there?
When he didn't get his way, he fired people, fraudulantly hired others, prorogued parliament TWICE, shrouded numerous documentation, banned transcripts from meetings, and basically told the Canadian public to shut up and mind our own business. And we did.

And look at what the hell happened:

And it is my fault.
Not ALL my fault, but I was here... ignoring what he was doing to us.

Now, I am not going to get all maudlin and feel sorry for myself anymore than I am about to feel sorry for our country about this.  Sometimes timing is everything.
Because look what has happened:

On behalf of all Canadians, sir, I would like to thank you. You have done it! You have really done it. You’ve managed to get us interested in federal politics.

This campaign season began several weeks ago with you standing solemnly in an empty Parliament to dismiss a supposedly unwanted election — triggered, of course, by your government being held in contempt of Parliament — as something sure to disappoint Canadians. You didn’t pull this dismissal out of thin air: after all, the last election, held just a couple of years ago, had the lowest turnout in Canadian history; young people between eighteen and twenty-four stayed home in droves, with less than 40 percent bothering to vote. Your party subsequently wrote off the electorate, especially its youngest constituents, and your rivals seemed to agree — in this month’s televised debates, there was very little mention of any issues of interest to young people. It seems like you all assumed that young Canadians won’t vote because they don’t care, so why waste your breaths?

But something has happened. There has been a ground swell of engagement by Canadians of all ages. The internet is ablaze with political talk, more people watched the debates than the NHL playoffs, and on campuses across the country — during final exams — students are holding vote mobs. Vote mobs, Mr. Harper! The very Canadians you dismissed as apathetic, it turns out, aren’t after all. They are forming mobs, sir, and a mob is the next best thing to a riot.

We saw something like this in 2008 — i.e., an unprecedented number of young and discouraged voters becoming engaged in politics for the first time in their lives. The problem was that it happened in American politics, and it centred on the charisma of Barack Obama. The sexiness of the American presidential election only served to highlight the dullness and hollowness of our Canadian choices, further discouraging voters.

But all that is changing, Mr. Harper. Things are really turning around. There are mobs, sir! Mobs! And this exciting shift is largely thanks to you.

I would like to tell you that your own charisma is inspiring Canadians to become involved in this election. Or that one of your competitors is taking the country by storm with a message of hope and change. But, much like last time, this election is pretty much void of any charisma, save for one plucky challenger. Left wanting for something positive and hopeful, Canadians have found an equally powerful inspiration in response to what you lack. These vote mobs, this Facebook chatter, the viral videos, and potty-mouthed websites that show the increasing engagement of those young voters you dismissed are not partisan per se, but are united, instead, by a severe distaste for the Harper Government and the questionable ways it runs things. Canadians from all walks of life, from the Arcade Fire, to Margaret Atwood, to Joe Nobody, are lashing out against your five years of secrecy, contempt, and hypocrisy. Canadians are engaged in federal politics now more than they have been in a very long time, thanks to you. And it looks like many young Canadians will now decide to vote for the first time. But unfortunately for you, Mr. Harper, it will be for anyone other than yourself.


A voter"

This is what happened.  People got invested. I got invested.
And it is a beautiful thing to witness. From all of us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you what this blog has done for me.