Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Deja Moo: The New York Democratic Primary

Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth  (Lucy Parsons)

Well, the Democratic primary in New York has come and gone and Hillary won.  What a surprize!!!  Tens of thousands of people flock to see Bernie Sanders live compared to the couple of hundred who attend Hillary's event.  Yet, Hillary wins going away.

Do my eyes deceive me?  No.  It's just another case of using the rules of voting to gain advantage.

In New York, the primary is closed, meaning that you have to be registered months in advance as a Republican or a Democrat in order to vote in the primary.  All the independents and all the recent converts to Bernie's cause were shut out.  Imagine that.  And to add insult to injury, more than a hundred thousand registered Democrats in Brooklyn, Bernie's home town, had their names mysteriously vanish from the voters' list, a troublesome occurrence to say the least, causing the state's comptroller to demand an audit of the Elections Board, a classic example of too little too late since by the time the investigation wraps up, Hillary will probably be in the White House.

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Different day, same old bullshit of voter suppression.  In Arizona, they reduced the number of voting stations, forcing people to stand in line five hours or more in the dessert heat if they wanted to vote.  In both cases, these voting irregularities swayed the results in favor of Hillary.

So, what is playing out in the Democratic primary is a grass roots movement, primarily made up of young people, challenging the system by mobilizing with great force to demand fundamental changes to the American political economy, and the old guard that uses its control of the voting procedures to engineer a result that is more favourable to their interests.  If I were a betting man, I would place my money on the old guard to win this contest.

Given that this electoral contest has been rigged in advance, I think its just a matter of time that this wave of progressives come to the realization that to get to the place they would like to go, they just can't get there from here.  The way is blocked.  The rich are not going to let the population at large vote away their wealth, and the two party political system is set up to protect the status quo at all costs.

In the end, it all depends on how Bernie is going to react to his defeat.  Will he accept the bitter result or will he say, "Fuck this", I'm going to run as an independent"?

I think it would be a historic move that would bring to an end the two-party political system in the United States.  Surely, the specter of Donald Trump as President will be used to encourage people to choose the lesser of the two evils: the more popular (Hillary) of the least popular presidential candidates of the major parties since records have been kept.

It won't be until the summer before Bernie makes his decision, and in the meantime I guess I'll have to sit tight and watch this pathetic rerun of an electoral script to see if there will be a surprize twist to what appears to be a predetermined ending, bought to you by the good people of Corporate America.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Everybody Knows But Not Everybody Gets It

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows    (Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows)

Last weeks publication of the Panama Papers, a leak of more than two terabytes of documents detailing the creation of off-shore shell companies and their dubious financial transactions only provided us with the details of what everybody knows: the rich don't play by the same rules as you and I when it comes to paying their fair share of taxes.  Tell us something that we don't know.

Nevertheless, heads have begun to roll.  Days later the people took to the streets in Iceland and the Prime Minister was forced to resign.  Those pesky Vikings.

Somehow, I don't see the same thing playing out in Russia even though hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to one of  Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest friends and confidents.  As you can easily imagine, taking to the streets in Moscow is a much different affair.

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Here in North America, we simply shrug our shoulders and continue going about doing our business.  Most of us don't give it a second thought while we dutifully fill out our tax forms that determines how much we owe or the government owes us.  But we should.

For the last forty years, we have been subjected to the neo-liberal rhetoric, telling us that we have been living beyond our collective means, that we have to become more productive (do more for less pay), and that we must be prepared to take more individual responsibility for our lives.  During this same time period, the standard of living for the middle and lower classes has dropped significantly while the top one percent of revenue earners has continued to increase their take of the national income.

You would think it would be a relatively simple task of connecting the dots between lower taxes on the rich and corporations, moving manufacturing to low wage, low regulatory foreign countries, and funneling profits to off shore tax havens so to escape higher domestic taxes in order to see the emerging pattern for the population at large in North America is one of getting screwed.  The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, a deal that both Canada and the United States agreed to before releasing the details of the accord to the public, is just the latest instance of the super rich using elected governments to advance their personal interests at the expense of those who cannot move their assets and change their income sources at will, the so-called 99% of the population.

Considering that the United States is presently witnessing a presidential campaign in which the stakes of the election include the possibility of electing a candidate, Bernie Sanders, who would make it his business to put an end to the corporate domination of the political sphere in the US, you would think that much more of the electorate would see this election as a once in a lifetime opportunity to reign in the powers that care little for its well being.

Saldly, this is not the case.  What is unfolding in the American main stream media is an unparalleled smoke and mirror show designed to divert the electorate's attention away from the real issues that should be the focus of attention of the political debate.  Most of the media attention is focused on the outrageous performance of Donald Trump, a loud, boorish man of wealth who seems intent on showing Americans how stupid they really are because, left to his own devices, he could become the Republican candidate for the office of the President of the United States.

Do Americans really want to have a man who announces that he is going to build a wall between the USA and Mexico and will get the Mexicans to pay for it as the Commander and Chief of the most powerful military force in the history of humanity?  I don't think so.

Indeed, the narrative that the corporate-owned media is spinning raises the spectre of having a buffoon running the country, thereby paving the way for their preferred option, the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  Much to their chagrin, however, the democratic socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders, has an outside chance to upset Clinton and win the Democratic Party's nomination, in spite of the overwhelming bias of their reporting in favor of Clinton.  Such a result would constitute a serious setback at the corporate sector's insatiable appetite for ever-growing profits.

What is truly amazing is that Trump is able to reach out and gain the support of the disenfranchised members of the white underclass, while Clinton is doing the same in the minority underclass.  Simply put, this large segment of the electorate is focused on identity politics and can't see the forest for the trees when it comes to the real issues that affect their well being.  Economic concerns should be front and center, but unfortunately the race card is being played so that both segments will not embrace the candidate who would most probably do the most for their benefit.

Seeing that so many Americans are incapable of critical thought and are easily swayed by emotional appeals to their base instincts, it seems unlikely that a populist candidate like Bernie Sanders could become President of the United States.  There's just not enough well-educated Americans who can connect the dots in order to change the tide of their nation's recent history.

I may be wrong.  Here's hoping.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bernie's Plan B: Run As An Independent

Watching the Democratic primaries, it seems unlikely that Bernie will receive the nomination to be the Party's candidate in November's presidential election.  Not that he isn't a worthy candidate and not because he couldn't win the election.  Simply put, his politics do not hold favor with the elite who run the party and its financial supporters. 

Essentially, mainstream democrats are quite comfortable with the status quo.  It has served them well, allowing them to accumulate wealth, educate their children, and have access to quality health care when it is needed.  That these societal benefits are not extended to everyone is a cause for concern, but not a sufficient cause to begin making qualitative changes to the American political economy, namely raising taxes on the wealthy, reducing military expenditures, and enacting effective regulation of the environment and financial markets.

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For heaven's sake, let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Yet, that's exactly what Bernie intends to do if elected.  He intends to create a much more egalitarian American society, where all Americans, regardless of their race, sex, age, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation have a fair chance of attaining the good life.  Presently, the good life in America is more or less reserved for the members of an exclusive club, largely determined by birth, but certainly by income, which is why the wealthy liberal elites of the Democratic Party don't want him to become President.  Bernie would tear down the systemic barriers that prevent the vast majority of Americans from joining the ranks of those who enjoy the so-called American Dream, and in the process raise taxes at the expense of the top 10% of revenue earners in the US.  It's one thing to administer social programs for the disadvantaged; it's quite another to reduce the wealth gap between the classes.  Hillary's supporters will have none of the latter.

Which raises the question why is Bernie seeking the nomination of a political party that, for the most part, does not support his political views?  His support is largely with independents and with the under 30 age group who have yet to identify with either of the mainstream political parties.  Bernie is a progressive, and the Democrats haven't supported a progressive since Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.  In fact, the Democrats have put into place a primary process which includes super delegates who are chosen by the party to vote in order to prevent a grass roots candidate like from Bernie from winning the nomination.  So much for democracy.

So, don't be surprized that at the end of the day of the Democratic National Convention, Bernie falls just short of winning the nomination.  What comes next could be historic!

Bernie should run as an independent candidate.  He has all the momentum.  Thousands attend his rallies.  He has the capacity to raise the millions necessary to run the electoral campaign, and he occupies the moral high ground.  His policies speak to the masses.  He represents their interests. 

Moreover, the mainstream Republicans are in disarray.  They will not support the demagogue, Donald Trump.  Most likely, they will field their own candidate, which will throw the presidential election wide open.  A multi-candidate election is an election that Bernie could win because he has sufficient strength to garner the necessary votes in many of the key states to obtain their electoral college votes, which are the votes the actually elect the President of the United States.

Even if he doesn't win the election, he would re-animate the progressive movement in the United States and give the American people the political vehicle they need to represent their interests in a political system in which their plight is largely ignored.

Voting for Hillary is voting for the lesser of two evils, but why is this the choice?  The two party political system has been used for centuries in Anglo-American countries that use it to divide and rule the population in the interest of the monied classes.  If ever there were a moment in which the majority of Americans need to break out of this political system, the moment is now.

So, here's hoping that Bernie becomes the next President of the United States, preferably as an independent progressive. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

America's Quiet Revolution

By now you probably noticed that things are not quite right in the land of Uncle Sam.  A lot of people are angry and "they ain't gonna take it any more".  So much so that the financial-media-congressional complex is losing control of the country.  In short, the dispossessed underclass from across the political spectrum are refusing to follow their marching orders handed down by the ruling elite of both the Democrats and the Republicans.  Imagine the Republicans choosing Donald Trump as their candidate for the presidency and the Democrats choosing Bernie Sanders.  The former is a demagogue while the latter is a self-declared democratic socialist.  What's up with that?

I think that the majority of Americans have finally woken up to the fact that they have been exploited mercilessly for the last forty years.  They now know that the economy is rigged for the benefit of the super rich, the .01% of the population.  For the great many, the economic recovery from the Great Recession has brought little if any relief, while the top of the top have received 80% of the newly created wealth.  Now the shit has hit the fan, and the underclass is about to take matters into their own hands.

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It's not as if the groundswell of discontent has fallen into  and file and manifested its support around a single cause or a single leader.  The USA is just far too diverse for that to happen.  Instead, there are two opposing forces within the underclass that are pushing forward their champions to advance their particular interests.  On the one hand, we have the Trump supporters, who are, for the most part, less educated and less likely to embrace the ethnic, cultural, and social diversity that now characterizes America.  On the other hand, we find the supporters of Bernie Sanders, who are better educated and more likely to be comfortable with the relatively new cultural and social mosaic that they find in America's urban landscapes.

What they both have in common is that they been shut out of the American dream.  In fact, the wealthy elite have turned their backs on the common folk, what Christopher Lasch wrote about in the 1990s in his prophetic book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy.  By offshoring production in low wage countries with lax labour and environmental laws, the wealthy elites impoverished the lives of millions of Americans who can no longer rely on the possibility of providing for themselves and their families from wages earned in the manufacturing sector.  At the same time, the elites successfully lobbied for lower taxes which reduced the tax base supporting post-secondary education.  This in turn drove up the cost of a university education, forcing millions of students to take on crushing debt loads of which many will never be able to pay back.

For both camps, the future is bleak since the previous social scripts of either working hard on the job or in the classroom have not panned out.  Those without a higher education are trapped toiling away in low paying, dead end jobs.  Those with are bouncing back and forth from one contract to another in the gig economy.  Neither group has much hope to improve their lot if the status quo remains in place.  Consequently, both the supporters of Trump and Sanders have moved to overthrow the power structures within the established political system.  Simply put, the Tea Party is trying to take over the Republican Party, while the Occupy Wall Street movement is trying to do the same within the Democratic Party.

As could be imagined the members of the establishment are aghast.  Their worst nightmares could possibly come to pass: either a loose canon like Trump becoming the commander and chief of the most powerful military force in the history of humanity, or a democratic socialist like Sanders raising taxes on the wealthy and reining in the activities of the financial sector.  These are the choices?

From the perspective of the elites, it is clear that Hillary Clinton is the best bet to perpetuate the status quo.  However, despite the US Supreme Court ruling allowing for massive spending during the electoral campaign from the corporate sector, this financial might is offset by Trump's billions of dollars of personal wealth and Sanders amazing capacity to raise millions of dollars rapidly from the public at large.  This time around corporate cash cannot guarantee the result of the presidential election.

How this is all going to turn out is anybody's guess.  One thing is for sure, however, the USA is presently morphing into something new.  Traditional constituencies are breaking apart and a new order is on the horizon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Time Has Come For America's Next Great Generation To Make Its Mark

After yesterday's primary result in New Hampshire, it now looks like Bernie Sanders is the real deal, at least with the Millennials, the under 40 crowd.  As Bernie says with utter conviction, "no more establishment politics, no more establishment economics.  The time has come for a political revolution.  Politics should serve all Americans, not just the financial elite."  You tell them Bernie!

One thing is constant in this life and it is change.  Intergenerational change is upon us and there is nothing that the older generation can do to prevent it because the world has changed.  Technology has made it so that we can communicate easily amongst ourselves.  We no longer need the traditional media to tell us what to think, what is acceptable, and what choices we should make.

In the traditional media, thought control goes on unabated.  Everyday we are bombarded with messages designed to protect the privilege of those who maintain the status quo.  Fortunately, it has become readily apparent to those who comprise a critical mass in the younger generation that America has become incredibly self-serving playground for its elites and its boomers incredibly complacent in allowing this to happen.

Saddled with crushing debt from pursuing a post-secondary education, often just scraping by on a pathetic minimum wage, fortunate not to fall ill so to require medical attention, the Millennials know all to well that their future has been sacrificed in effort to make the rich even richer.  It must be very difficult for them to hear and put up with the bullshit that passes for political discourse in mainstream America.

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That's where Bernie comes in.  He's been speaking up for the average American for forty years.  He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth like Hillary.  He doesn't have a Super Pac funding his campaign.  Goldman Sachs hasn't paid him $675,000 to give a crappy speech, rife with clich├ęs and worn out ideas.  He doesn't listen to Kenny G.

For the people with money, Bernie comes across as a radical because he wants to rock the boat, spread some of that cash around in the richest nation on the planet.  In Bloomberg News, he was branded as a public menace.  How that got into my Facebook Newsfeed I'll never know.  Most of my Facebook friends are progressives, which brings me to the reason why this presidential election will go down in history like no other.

In short, the opinions expressed in the traditional media, on American broadcast television, like on Meet the Press and Face the Nation, or on Fox News won't make a difference in this election because these opinions don't reach America's younger voters.  Social media has definitely taken over and money can't control or even influence the millions of online conversations Americans are having each and every day. 

Bernie is speaking to the masses.  His YouTube videos are shared daily not only by his ardent supporters, but are reaching out into the extended social networks of the Millennials and their older family members who by now are all online.  Imagine grandma or grandpa finding one of Bernie's videos on their Facebook Newsfeed, posted by their favorite granddaughter or grandson.  Such a post is not easily ignored.  It's personal.  The channel doesn't get changed.

So, in closing, I think it's fitting that I leave you with the first Bernie Sanders video I shared on Facebook.  I hope to share many more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Are Canadians Ready For Democracy?

Are Canadians Ready for Democracy?

Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau caused quite the stir when he promised that the most recent general election would be the last to use the first-past-the-post voting method.  A method where the entire country is divided into 338 electoral districts and a single deputy is elected in each district by whomever garners the most votes.

Ironically, it was the vagaries of first-past-the post that brought the Trudeau-led liberals to power, giving them a majority government although they only received 39% of the popular vote.  Will Trudeau make a substantive change to the way Canadians elect their representatives, or will he simply tinker at the edges and keep in place the system of governance that has been in place for nearly 150 years?

Come to think of it, 150 years is a long time, which raises the question why did it take this long? There must be something about the present system that most Canadians really like.  Otherwise, it should have been sent packing a long time ago.

As for me, I am a democrat, so first-past-the-post with all its obvious limitations, giving the power of a majority to a political party that only has the support of the minority of the electorate, systemic under representation of third parties, and rendering most of the votes cast by Canadians to be totally useless, has got to go. The sooner, the better.

So what gives?  Why has it stuck around for such a long time?

I ask this question because of the recent flurry of articles in the national media that have been published in response to the prospects of changing the electoral system.  Those in the political class and those who make use of politics for financial gain are very cognizant that changing the electoral system could result in a change in the way Canada is governed and, as a result, the way business, amongst other things, is conducted.  In other words, the stakes are high.

Surprisingly for those of us that has been active over the years to change the voting system, it has become a hot issue.  In fact, the leader of the opposition in the interim, Rona Ambrose, declared in Parliament that in order to change the voting system the proposed change would need to be ratified by the people in a nation-wide referendum.  Considering that Canada goes to war without putting the question to a national plebiscite, "methinks the lady doth protest too much."

Nevertheless, it is an very interesting proposition since it raises the democratic legitimacy of making political choices: who makes them and on whose behalf?  In this case, why does the decision to go to war not require a decision made by the entire electorate, yet changing the manner in which we choose how we elect our representatives does?

At this point, we need to make the difference between the idea of "democracy" as a political concept, especially in the North American context, and the practice of democracy as a feature of a particular culture.  Some cultures are more democratic than others, meaning that the norms of allowing political decisions to be made on a consensual basis, in other words, the will of the majority, and to allow for widespread meaningful participation in the electoral process are stronger than others.  For example, the Germanic and Scandinavian nations embrace the fundamental principles of democracy much more so than the English speaking nations with the exception of New Zealand.

As we could expect, nations that embrace the principles of democracy create political institutions that reflect democracy's core value of equality: political status, treatment by the laws of the land, and the rights ascribed to citizens.  Consequently, rather than trying to design a political system that confers advantage or privilege of one group over another, democratic cultures create democratic political institutions.  For instance, in democratic electoral systems each and every vote carries equal weight and is effective in the formula that determines how the votes are transformed into the manner in which the people are represented in their National Assemblies.  In short, in democratic cultures people accept the constraints that majority rule can often impose upon the individual and seek to create political institutions that bring forward the rule of, for, and by the people, especially when it comes to the challenge of how the diverse beliefs and interests of the people are to be represented in the political decision making process.

Before we embark on changing our electoral system we as Canadians need to ask ourselves are our political institutions fundamentally democratic.  Afterwards, we will need to decide whether we are good with the things as they are or do we want to embrace democracy in a more meaningful way.

As you can tell by the way I have framed the decision making process, I take it as a given that Canada's political system is not fundamentally democratic.

It may be argued that the Westminster parliamentary system, which we inherited from the British, provides good and effective government.  However, it cannot be argued that it is fundamentally democratic.  First, the presence of an upper chamber in which seats are reserved for the aristocracy in the UK and appointed by the Prime Minister in Canada, meaning that each assembly is unelected but has the power to modify or veto legislation arising from the elected lower house, is clearly undemocratic.  Moreover, using an electoral system that distorts the popular in order to give the power of a majority to a political party that only has the support of a minority is an affront to fundamental democratic principles.

When our politicians speak of our "democratic" political institutions, they are appropriating the term from a much different political context and applying it to the electoral politics that exist in Canada, a political system designed to assign or transfer the responsibility of governing the nation to a very small group of people, the Prime Minister and his cabinet of Ministers.  Our only truly democratic moment is when we cast our ballots, but that moment ends when the votes are tabulated and political power has been effectively outsourced from the citizenry to the ruling party.

Now, a great number of Canadians really don't have a problem with the political system as it exists in its present form.  As a democrat, I hate to say this but I understand that the Westminster system does have a certain appeal to a great many.  For example, the business and financial class prefer to have a political system in which there exists a direct correlation between a political party's ability to raise funds and its representation in Parliament.  As a result, when money can influence electoral results, in return for its financial support the business and financial class can expect a favourable business and financial environment in which to conduct its affairs.  Moreover, its interests can take precedence over the interest of the common  good when need be.  From this perspective, an arm's length approach to the economy for the most part and favourable intervention when called for leads to supposedly superior economic performance which can then generate the revenues to finance the social programs to advance the common good.

As well, in this mindset, for the vast majority of Canadians there exists the advantage of allowing their elected officials to be pretty much autonomous once elected thereby freeing individuals to pursue other activities.  The practice of democracy requires informed and engaged citizens of which there are many in Canada, but far too few to date to make a significant change in the way politics are done.  Let's face it, keeping informed on the issues affecting the nation and participating meaningfully in the political process other than voting takes time and energy.  I think the vast majority of Canadians prefer to have that work performed by someone else while still retaining the possibility of being able to get rid of ruling party when the time arises.  Essentially, Canadians participate meaningfully only in the process of choosing which of the two ruling options receives the social contract to govern.  Once that decision is made, they can return to pursue their other interests unencumbered by the demands of being an informed and engaged citizen.

Finally, the political system in Canada makes life relatively easy for the political parties.  In a purely adversarial system like our own, where political power is an all or nothing proposition, a political party spends little of its time working collaboratively with the other parties and most of its energy, with regard to the political debate, criticizing everything it can about what the ruling party says and does while being very vague on how it would do things differently.  After a few years of hearing this tiresome discourse, Canadians want to change the channel and watch a new political spectacle, so they vote the ruling party out, vote in the government in waiting, and life continues pretty much as before.  Essentially, over the long-term, the real question in Canadian politics is when do we make the switch from the Liberals to the Conservatives and then back again.  It's been that way for almost 150 years.

So, why change?

Perhaps, it would be better to continue living the lie in thinking we live in a democracy, a consensual hallucination that makes life better for some.  Democracy, after all, is messy. No more heroes in white hats and villains in black.  It isn't easy to be thoughtful and sympathetic towards others that do not share your beliefs and interests.  It's much simpler to cheer for either the blue or the red team. Finding workable solutions to complex problems in a changing environment requires everyone to put water in their wine instead of feigning to know the truth and berating those who disagree.

But I think the greatest change confronting Canadians facing the possibility of embracing democracy is that it requires a fundamental shift in the culture.  It has often been said by those who observe Canadian culture from the outside is that we prefer to defer to authority.  Although we have made great strides forward towards equality in the relationships between men and women, in the workplace and in the political sphere we still cling to our authoritarian power structures.  Certainly, most workplaces in Canada are structured on the basis of hierarchy, orders are released from above and those below are expected to follow.  There are other ways to organize.  Also, the neoclassical economic discourse dominates the manner political debate is conducted in Canada, growing the economy is far more important than a more equitable distribution of the nation's wealth.  There are other perspectives that could come into play.

I think the important question that needs to be addressed is whether Canadians are ready to accept the diversity of opinions and interests that their fellow citizens hold and to accept a political process that does not attempt to impose the primacy of one particular mindset.  When many conceptions of what constitutes the good society need to be taken into consideration when making political decisions, the process requires much more effort and different skill sets as well as a much greater level of sustained participation from the citizenry and its politicians.  Are Canadians ready to embark on such a path? I'm not so sure.  I would like to see our political system move in such a direction, but it has been my experience to date that I am part of a minority.

In my mind, before deciding on which voting system to adopt, Canadians must first decide upon what kind of society do they want to live in.  Adopting a more democratic electoral system will inevitably create a more egalitarian society.  Maintaining the present system or modifying first-past-the-post so that the fundamental authoritative power structure remains in place will only exacerbate inequality over time.

It will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds and what changes will be proposed in the legislation to be tabled that could put an end to what is truly an archaic electoral practice.

Who knows, an opportunity like this might not come around for another 150 years.

Carpe diem.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Unberable Lightness of Sunny Ways

In the Aesop's fable of The Wind and the Sun, the wind and sun argue over which was stronger. A traveller then appears on the road, and to settle their dispute the wind and sun decide to see which can get the traveller to remove his coat first. So the wind blows. And blows. And blows, and the traveller wraps his coat ever more tightly around himself, until the wind gives up and the sun takes a turn. Beating down, all hot and warm and cozy and nice, so that eventually the traveller discards the cloak.

Here in Canada, as a result of the last federal election, we have moved from the dark and stormy ways of the former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who spewed forth fire and brimstone, casting the world as a dangerous place where evil lurks in each and every corner, to the sunny ways of the newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who shines before us with a much more positive view of the world, a place in which compassion and generosity are allowed once again to emerge in the politics of the nation.

For the majority of Canadians, it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders.  No longer do we need to bow our heads to the moral certainty of those who worship the angry, vindictive God of the old testament.  Yes, let there be light, the light that shines from scientific research that dares to contradict the received vision of those who wield power and the statistical evidence that sheds light on the actual living conditions in which Canadians find themselves.  Some how, some way, the attempt to tell the truth openly and without recrimination became frowned upon in Harperland.  I'm so glad we no longer live there.

Yet, let us not fool ourselves.  The angry white men have not gone away.  For the moment, they are beside themselves.  "How did we let power slip from our grasp?" "We own the media!"  This very thought is too much for them to bear.

As a result, we know what lies ahead.  Throughout the upcoming year, those who own the traditional media will attack the newly formed government without respite.  As well, they will do their best to cast gloom and doom upon the society.  In short, they will try to extinguish the light and replace it with the foreboding of a gathering storm, the back drop from which the soon-to-be-anointed leader of the dark forces will be cast as the only one who can save us from the impending peril.

Sounds like a script from Star Wars to me.  Unfortunately, it works all too well.

As for me, I won't be tuning in.  I no longer watch television; haven't bought a newspaper in more than five years; listen to satellite radio while in my car; and get my news from my Facebook and my personal, algorithm-driven newsfeeds.

I suggest you do the same.  We need to take the same care in how we feed our minds as we should do when we feed our bodies. Without the shrieks of those who have us believe the sky is falling, the lightness of sunny ways is a pleasure to behold.