Democracy in action - a blog, in 1000 Words or Less
A few weeks ago, I wrote that elections were a time of hope. Even for people who don’t share my cynical streak, the comment probably sounded naive. Still, it's not inaccurate to say that the underpinning of democracy is "the vote" and the inherent hope that's built into that single action: tomorrow can be better than today.
But it sure is a messy process.
In the last month I’ve experienced three important votes, two of which were elections. Canadians were almost subjected to a fourth, mainly because the man-child in Ottawa doesn’t like his significant weakness and faults questioned. At the present time, in the midst of a plague when every Canadian’s attention is focused on getting through the next month safely, a federal election is the last thing we need but Justin was willing to force a non-confidence vote because he doesn’t have the strength of character to stand up and answer for his incredible incompetence. That said, at some point our sorry excuse for a leader MUST be held accountable for his scandals, financial ineptitude and the smug, patronizing smile he likes to flash when he condescendingly says moronic shit like, “…interest rates are low…” or “…because it’s 2015.” Voting him out of office would definitely make for a better Canadian future but in his case, it's not enough. He should be prosecuted for conflicts of interest that amount to theft of the Canadian taxpayer.
(heh, heh, heh) Anyway…
The first vote I participated in was at work, a small vote that was only significant for myself and my colleagues. The subject matter was debated vigorously. Some people loudly decided to vote “No” before all the details we were supposed to consider were made available. Only they can articulate why they made an uninformed choice. Others committed to a “Yes” vote because in this particular case, when all the information was presented, there was only one possible option. Still others didn’t bother voting through laziness or ambivalence, I guess. The vote was open for less than two weeks, held securely and hours after it closed, the results were available. Not everyone was happy with the results however, everyone accepted them. The entire procedure was a perfect snap-shop of how democracy (should) work.
The second vote / election occurred on October 24th. British Columbians went to the polls for an unnecessary provincial election nobody wanted, called by a “leader” who wasn’t elected to his position in 2017. Last month John Horgan used Dr. Bonnie Henry’s handling of the Covid crisis as a means of cementing his position for another term. He won and although I wasn’t surprised, I was disappointed. I haven’t forgotten how abysmally the last NDP majority governed, ultimately losing official party status and effectively bankrupting the province. Not only that, I lived in Ontario during the Bob Rae years, which history shows was another complete NDP debacle. A couple of decades have passed since those reigns of stupidity. During those bygone years, an entirely new segment of the populace who don’t know how horrible a job the NDP inevitably does, reached voting age and so, majority opinion carried the day. Horgan was given four more years.
After Rachel Notley’s 2015 win in Alberta, I asked a friend who lives in that province how the NDP could possibly have won an election in Canada’s last bastion of true conservatism. He laughed and said, “Everyone in the province woke up asking that exact question.” He went on to say, “There’s no point in worrying about it now. All we can do is wait. Hopefully the next government can fix the damage she does." He was so pragmatic. I’ve decided to follow his example. History repeats itself. In four years, after Horgan screws BC up to the point of unrepairable, there will be another provincial election. Until that happens, I won’t worry about. I’ll wait and when the time comes, I'll use my vote to help kick him out of office.
The third election we’re all a part of, at least from an arm’s length, is the drama unfolding in the United States. After what felt like a lifetime of overwhelming media coverage that in no way represented the truth, election night finally arrived. Four days later, the result was announced and, yet somehow, a month later, the campaigning continues. The orange tinted wanna-be dictator claims he won, without coming close to meeting the minimum threshold and everybody, from late night comedians to legitimate news outlets, are discussing voter fraud, re-counts, court challenges, supreme-court intervention,
"The world’s greatest country?"
"The world’s greatest democracy?"
Yeah, right. After the last four years, it's baffling that some Americans can say that with a straight face.
Trump, whose favourite insult is to call someone else a "loser," lost the election decisively and is now disrupting the peaceful transfer of power. In doing so, he's eroding one of the cornerstones of American democracy. It appears as though a large percentage of the population is complicit in his bad behaviour. While the world watches in disbelief, the petulant white house resident whines like a five year old who doesn't want to leave the bouncy castle. Left-wing radicals, ostensibly protesting racism and police brutality, destroy millions of dollars of property at the same time as heavily armed right-wing radicals scream, “Count the votes,” in one state and “Stop the count,” in another. Meanwhile, CNN and Fox report their owner's agendas, rather than the news.
For most of us, watching the spectacle is like driving past the proverbial car crash. As much as we want to look away, we can't because what we're seeing reinforces anti-American sentiment that has existed for decades. Unfortunately, as much as we laugh at their over-the-top patriotism and resent their heavy-handed ways, the world needs those exact qualities from the USA. "The world's greatest democracy" and the resultant way of life American's are so proud of is supposed to be the example to which many less prosperous, less stable nations aspire. As the president and his sycophants attempt what amounts to a political coup, that high water mark is disappearing. More importantly, as much as many people disliked it in the past, America’s strength has long been a stabilizing force around the globe. That strength is every bit as necessary today as it was in previous decades. Authoritarian states and autocratic leaders need to be held in check, otherwise they invade the Crimean Peninsula and destroy democracy in Hong Kong.
If the respect the world had for the USA was in decline prior to Trump, the last four years has pushed it over the edge. People much smarter than me will certainly write books analyzing the precipitous drop in America’s global standing. It wouldn’t surprise me if the final chapter detailed the Trump years, culminating in the 2020 election. I say that recognizing the American election for the train wreck that it was, but also acknowledging that the country still has a (somewhat) working democracy.
"Messy" might be an understatement. From a small in-house vote, when pre-conceived opinions were acted upon without due consideration, when pro and con debates raged without resolution, when the final outcome was universally accepted, to watching “the world’s greatest country” stagger through an ugly national election, democracy is not only messy, it's inefficient, sometimes disappointing, often frustrating...and always hopeful. The power of the vote got rid of Trump. Biden will be different. Whether or not he'll be a better leader is unknown, although it's difficult to imagine him being worse. The same can be said for whoever Canadians elect to succeed Justin and Horgan. That's where hope lives.
Please tell a friend.