Tag Archives: voter apathy

Politicians & Voters: The Good, the Bad and the Stupid

Less than 50% of people voted in BC’s provincial election. Less than half, which means that everything could have changed had more people voted. I’ve always said, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. And really, an apathetic acceptance of whatever is thrown at you is no way to foment change. There are countries where not everyone has the vote or where they’re even losing the right to vote. People should not treat the liberties we have so lightly.

Granted some people are disenfranchised because these days one politician is like another, just in a different suit. What matter be it Liberals or Conservatives or NDP, they will all make the same promises? I’m not saying I believe that completely but it’s obvious some people do. And on top of that, there is the aspect of political campaigning that has got down to name-calling and trying to take down another’s character to change votes, even if it’s obfuscating the truth or the facts.

People are becoming tired of politicians denigrating each other, and it is a very important element in negating voter turnout. This week the federal Conservatives have taken out ads to discredit Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. Not ads on what they’re doing, nor on concerns for our country but just another smear campaign against the enemy. That’s money well spent. Politics has gotten down to this. Don’t talk about what you can do but talk about what the other guy is not doing. I’m very tired of that.

Voters also see a lack of charisma in our potential leaders. Where is our Barack Obama? The truth is that there are few completely charismatic leaders. It takes a special blend of hubris and confidence, intelligence and eloquence, theatrics and honesty. I’ve mentioned this before but some notable orators (the one element a charismatic leader must have) have been Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Pierre Trudeau, Barack Obama, Brian Mulroney.

Brian Mulroney, you say? Yes. I don’t like him, never liked him as a PM and I believe he took the Conservatives to overwhelming defeat (and stuck Kim Campbell in as the fall guy/girl). But in recent years as Mulroney has been investigated for the airbus scandal and the Hans Schreiber affair (receiving envelopes of cash and storing them in safety deposit boxes, making them untraceable, which somehow the lawyer side of him just didn’t think looked suspicious), I’ve heard his voice on the radio. The man has a deep and well modulated tone.

I’m sure he was/is a very good lawyer because it is obvious in the way he speaks that he understands the drama of words and how to stress particular words and concepts. Were his tears real or alligator tears this week when he broke down in giving testimony, I don’t know. And I must be careful of what I accuse or Mulroney will make a pre-emptive strike on me too and sue as he did in the airbus scandal. No person is without a range of emotions, nor are they completely good or evil. I’m sure he does care deeply for his family but I also believe he would pull on anything to manipulate a situation, being a good lawyer and all. And his spokesman (publicist for a retired prime minister) was there at the inquiry to jump up and accuse two big bad journalists for making him cry. Poor Brian. Sounds like he’s getting his money’s worth from his publicist.

Without knowing the end of this inquiry I can predict accurately that Mulroney will get off scott-free, whether he is innocent or not. And why, because he is a great speaker and actor. He’s a master manipulator and will use that to his advantage. Besides, it’s his word against Schreiber’s, a guy trying to avoid extradition to Germany (for fraud and bribery) by any means possible, and it’s two men forgetting a lot of things so in the end, conclusions will be…inconclusive even if Mulroney hid his money in safes, didn’t record receiving it and didn’t consult his accountant, even though he claims everything was on the up and up, in receiving those fat cash envelopes. Can I conduct affairs like this and what about tagging him for income tax evasion?

Were voters swayed by his voice to vote for Mulroney when he ran? Yes, just as each of those other men I have mentioned gained popularity at one point because they could put thoughts together well, speak them with conviction and relate to the crowd (and they had great speech writers). So, voters want charisma and drama and maybe not so much honesty.

But voters, as I’ve said before, are fickle and have short memories. They believe the promises too easily, yet also cynically believe nothing at all. Here are two comments I heard in regards to our recent provinicial election. One person said, “They gave me a hip, I have no complaints.” Although it’s been many years since this person received a hip and the government (and the issues) have changed a great deal since then. It was naive to think everything is the same and that even the government is the same so that this person didn’t have to vote. Someone else called into CBC and said they didn’t vote because they were dissatisfied and until every vote counted there was no point in voting. So, why didn’t that guy get out and vote for the single transferable vote, which would have made every vote count?

I can begin to understand why there are dictators. I did put the good into the title but I’m not sure why. What’s good with a situation where people don’t care enough to vote or try to bring about change. Everyone should writer their MLA and MP if they have a concern. Change is never all-sweeping at first but incremental, by very small steps. But voters will continue to be disenfranchised and moreso if they continue not to vote and have no say or concern in what happens. So, what are you going to do about it?

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Election Aftermath: A Rose by Any Other Name

I was caught up in the super insidious PSW OnlineGames Trojan Horse and worm. It’s taken several different software programs to remove the cursed bugs. Microsoft has done two priority updates to counteract this problem. So, due to the virus and not the shock of the election, I missed a day.

Canada spent $290 million on our third federal election in same years, to come out with a bit more of the same old same old: minority Conservative government with Liberals, NDP and the Bloc making up the opposition. And no surprise, we hit an all-time low on voter turnout: 59%. The lemmings in Alberta did pretty much as they have doen for ever, as did Quebec. Here are just a few of reasons that voters aren’t bothering to vote:

  • We’ll vote and it will just be the same.
  • We’ll vote but no one listens to us anyways.
  • Politicians make all sorts of promises and never keep them (in fact Harper wanted a mandatory election date and then went against his own rule)
  • Politicians don’t talk to us or have our concerns in mind. (I heard this from several people in their 20s–do politicians talk at the universities at all?)
  • All they do is call each other names and then get involved in scandals.
  • I make my opinion known by not voting.
  • We need proportional representation.
  • I can’t support anyone 100%.
  • Our leaders lack charisma.

Looking at this last point I have to say that Obama has inspired a nation and I bet the voting will be higher in the US than it has been in recent elections. I didn’t hear Elizabeth May of the Green party speak so I don’t know if she has the inspiration and charisma needed. Just listening without watching, I’d have to say that Steven Harper came across the strongest and most confident. Stephan Dione may have been stronger in French than English but he certainly didn’t have that charisma. Jack Layton would like to have it but all of the speeches I heard for any party were just not inspiring. Maybe that’s because they were always jabbing at each other and it’s hard to raise a nation’s love and will if all you do is harp. Charisma, great oration, may not mean you have the best platform or way of governing but it might involve more people.

The people who voice their discontent by not voting, to me, defeat the purpose. There will still be a government, there will still be things you dislike but if you vote, you can possibly get the lesser of two evils. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about the government because you had no say whatsoever in their formation. Just think, if 41% more people had vote (100% then) it could definitely have swayed the outcome.

Besides that, there was the new voter registration requirements. After reading over my card I discovered the notice the third time. The whole card, in maroon and white  doesn’t really set off this notice. A friend of mine went to vote and didn’t have her card because her husband had taken it. Well, it turns out that it was a waste printing such cards as most people didnt’ need them to vote. My friend was told that they don’t go by names but by addresses. So, in fact, one person in the household might have been able to vote for more than one person.

Of course my friend has never actually changed her driver’s licence to reflect her correct address (the house next door) so they wouldn’t take her name and her address because they didn’t match. So, she went home and got the requisite bills with the right address and got back a half hour before the polls closed and the line-up was out the door so she didn’t vote. Her fault but there are many instances of people who had similar experiences: the person who lives in a small island community where everyone knows each other but the people working can’t vouch for the person and the others were of a different polling station but in the same building. Another friend has a PO box for a mailing address but lives in a condo. She didn’t even try to vote. It didn’t particularly help the turnout for voting.

The Conservatives won because they were the only right-wing party with several left-wing parties. If you add up all the votes for the Liberals, NDP and Greens you’ll see that the Conservatives do not represent the majority of those who voted. Yet they’ll govern us all. But then again the whole country’s government can still be decided by the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The system is being seen as so broken that fewer people believe that they matter in the scheme of things, especially if they don’t live in central Canada. Maybe it’s time for a big change in politics, in attitude and in the voting system.

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