Thursday, April 7, 2011
In Canada the Powers that Be Conspire to Suppress the Emergence of Alternative Voices
Catch 22 for the Green Party of Canada. Because the Greens haven't won a seat in Parliament, their leader can't participate in the televised leaders debate. Because their leader doesn't participate in the leaders debate, the Greens can't win a seat in Parliament.
At first glance, this seems to be a rather straight forward number being perpetrated against the Greens that would be easy to fix. Change the electoral system or change the rules for the leaders debate.
The powers that be: the political parties, the corporate sector, and the media, buttressed by a complacent judiciary, are just far too comfortable with the status quo to allow anyone else into the game, especially a political party that proposes to change the rules concerning the way the game is played.
That the political system has become out dated and dysfunctional is beside the point. If you play your cards right, life can be quite comfortable as long as the status quo is maintained.
That globalization has rendered many of our ways of thinking about how and what social services to deliver and how and when to intervene in the multiple spheres of economic activity obsolete is also a moot point as we continue to pile on the debt that we will ask future generations to pay. If the ship of the nation has veered off course, no matter as long as you're in first class.
In short, the social contract between the forces that be in Canada asserts that the political parties will ensure a socio-economic sphere that is favorable to wealth extraction by the corporate sector, the corporate sector will provide financial support to the traditional political parties, the media will act as the gatekeeper to what actually makes it onto the nation's political agenda, the political parties and the corporate sector will purchase advertising from the media, and the judiciary will ensure (I hope to be proved wrong on this point) that the rules of the political economy remain in place.
Dissent is fine as long as it remains contained within the confines of the existing power structure. Emerging political parties that attempt to change the "gentleman's agreements" in place will have their hopes dashed by an electoral system that either denies or severely distorts the representation given to smaller parties, closed doors when seeking funds, and hostile treatment from the media that will cast dispersions upon the capacity of the emerging party to form a government.
Moreover, those who are brave or foolish enough to put their name forward to appear on the ballot for an emerging party also face the the wrath of those who will use administrative means to make it as difficult as possible for someone to be a candidate.
On two separate occasions for two different political parties, I have been subjected to personal harassment from employers when I announced that I was to be candidate for a smaller party in which I expected and received only 10% of the vote. In one instance, I had my salary cut, and in the second, I received written notification that I would be fired if I did indeed become a candidate.
Needless to say, claims made about how Canada cherishes democratic values tend to make me scoff and wonder what is the person talking about when he or she mentions the word "democracy."
On this note a disgruntled democrat will sign off with the intention to examine what the term actually means and how it is being misused in my next blog.
In the meantime, I salute all those candidates who put their names forward knowing full well they have no hope of being elected. In doing so, they allow a great many of us to express our political beliefs in what is a sham of a democracy.
It warms my heart to know that the spirit of democracy is alive and well in the hearts of those who get it.