POLITICS IS WAR
There are factions, propaganda & casualties. The decisions are made by few, instigated by rank & file and affect everyone. Like most wars, politicians use the façade of moral reasoning to mask their true purpose based on ideological opportunism. Many are blinded to the moral, social and communal destructive path of all armed parties until the battle is over and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces.
I am a Liberal, my wife a Conservative. I bring up this difference to show that despite the vile rhetoric propagated through media, political leanings are not enemies. Yes we disagree on many topics within the political realm but the hatred is absent. We have the ability to disagree about very serious and important issues without resorting to shock & awe tactics. I can’t paint my wife as the boogie man and everything wrong with our society. She can’t blame me for economic decisions that may affect our lives. Surprisingly there are a lot of point-of-views we share; our similarities far outweigh our differences.
I have witnessed events over the last week (Notley winning Alberta, Brown winning leadership in Ontario) as an outsider. I do not live in Alberta nor do I have a vote within the leadership race of the PC’s. Not being encapsulated within the war zones of elections allows many interested but neutral people to get a glimpse at everything that is wrong with politics. Undoubtedly the paramount aspect of any politician is marketing a message and spreading the propaganda. It is all about the art of spin. How can a political party use any result to further their control or attempt to lay the groundwork for ‘next battle’?
I have to give credit to Rachel Notley and the NDP for forming the first government in 44 years within Alberta that wasn’t a PC government. It is a huge shift ideologically and should not be undermined in its significance. Unfortunately I don’t give the NDP credit for the win solely on their merits; this wasn’t their race to win, it was the PC’s to lose. What is the difference? The mass exodus of the WildRose Party crossing the floor was the catalyst that awoke the Alberta electorate. Such a dramatic affront to the concept of democracy enraged a province. The arrogance to create an even greater majority to benefit a few select representatives alienated residents. It was a stunt, it was the worst of politics and it laid the foundation for an electorate to response accordingly. That is to not say Rachel Notley didn’t have a part to play in her success, I wish her well and hope for a changing of the guard that eases the east-west tensions.
What has been blatantly obvious over the past year is that politics has a message: ONLY A SELECT FEW WILL GET ELECTED. Many federal NDP candidates ran across Alberta to ‘test run’ campaigns and to give exposure to residents in the upcoming federal election. When many won, the question is asked, who is to take their spots? As seen in Ontario and further within Toronto, if you are established within a party, you capitalize on that advantage. Joe Cressy used his run in the Trinity-Spadina federal by-election to help win his Toronto Councillor position. Jim Karygiannis left his tenured Liberal MP position to run in the same geographic area on Toronto city council. Recently Patrick Brown announced he would step down from a Conservative MP backbencher position to win a seat as leader of the Ontario PC party. These are examples from all 3 major parties of politics masquerading as democracy. Utilizing the connections laid before voters from other levels of government shows the pool is limited to those allowed in the building.
Most people don’t pay attention to politics. The daily humdrum is filled with partisan bullshit that is eaten and regurgitated. Why does a struggling family care what legislation is being presented by any level of government when it is usually directed towards a narrow demographic? Unless your identified demographic is needed to help secure votes, do you matter? Tax cuts for the rich, benefiting the unions that support you or focusing on the middle class leaves out a silent significant portion of society. Targeted policies are to those who vote and to those that pay attention. Forget about those struggling to keep their heads above water. Forget about those looking for a leg up, not a hand-out. It is systematic procedural steps to suppress those who have no voice & in turn have no choice. There aren’t many policies that don’t have an agenda. There are few genuine moments where a decision is made that are morally viewed as a benefit to everyone.
Political parties use many tactics to gain support from specific groups of voters. Politics snakes its way into morality, sexuality, equality and has very serious implications. Any politician that uses a foundation of hate or oppression to obtain votes is a vile human being. When I look back through history to see racist politicians preaching who has a right to vote, it sickens me. Are the consequences if their hated groups could vote really to destabilize their jurisdiction? How can a person be 3/5ths a person? How can a person believe in a hierarchy of race? How can the concept of equality be seen as a threat? Who would consider the Suffrage of Women as an attack on society? Is the alteration of the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage destructive? Does identifying a religion as a whole and categorizing all followers as terrorists creating a better society? Beware the politician that looks to divide and conquer by spreading fear and hate, they bring out the worst in those looking for a way to validate their own prejudices.
For those that believe in their right to vote no matter if they are educated or informed on their choices, are they participating in democracy? Another myth: democracy. Do you honestly believe that elections are democratic? Yes there is the option to vote for a few candidates, but take a moment and ask a question – who elected them to the ballot? The choices placed before voters have been selected by a small group of residents within that particular political party. Unless you are part of a party – you are only validating a choice already made for you. Outside of the five major parties (Bloc, Greens, LIBS, NDP & PC) the other parties are fringe candidates. They are legally allowed within the systems, but are usually viewed as afterthoughts which is unfortunate when they bring perspectives and views outside the current political archetypes.
The argument that municipal politics without a party system has a sense of democracy is also incorrect. Given that Toronto just went through four years of Rob Ford and a very dysfunctional council, how can we honestly believe in democracy when 37 of 38 incumbents won their seats back?! Of those who were ‘newly elected’ that weren’t incumbents included elected politicians from other levels of government, former councillors, former candidates and also the son of a former politician. Where is the “change” when the makeup of council is remarkably the same? 357 candidates ran for council, there were no real surprises for those who won their seats (incumbent or newly elected). If you weren't connected, you really didn’t have a shot.
This brings up another falsehood, the all important use of the word CHANGE. Every candidate attempting to knock off the incumbent is always sprouting the word change. The by-line usually follows the reasoning that whatever the previous government did was totally wrong and needs to be fixed. They will be elected and magically everything will be corrected, lives will be improved and there will be rainbows and happy music playing forever. What they really mean is that “if you elect us, we will make sure that the benefits of our policies will benefit you”. Sadly when you examine the governments before and after an election with different representatives or parties, fundamentally they remain the same. The pieces may change but the game remains the same.
As I stated in the beginning: politics is war. Divide and conquer is a dangerous path to victory. Unchecked propaganda can lead to false accusations and a tarnishing of the concept of fair elections. Those who suit up for the fight are armed with dangerous bullets of ideology. Many who support a single party are often bound by a sense of duty, no matter the consequences. I used to be idealistic that governments elected the best representatives attempting to improve the lives of all. A look behind the curtain has shown that the wizard plays a powerful role; the loss of innocence can never be replaced, the magic can never be recreated.
I conclude with a question: if a soldier was informed of the true intent of a war, if they had the ability to converse with their enemy, would their paradigm change? I would hope given the chance to evaluate the consequences of my actions, I wouldn’t be so blind to lift a weapon and take a shot, even it if is to simply mark an X.