Tuesday, August 28, 2012

WTF Even My Strategic Vote Won't Count

Before I start my rant, it should be known that I have been a candidate for political parties that wanted to change the voting system on four occasions.  I have also been a militant for civic organizations that shared the same aim.  I have even gone as far as to organize a charter challenge concerning the constitutionality of the first-past-the-post method.  All to no avail.

That being said, I am still faced with the reality that, with regard to my so-called Charter right to effective representation and meaningful participation in the electoral process, as far as the Quebec general election goes, I am shit out of luck.

I have thought hard and long about how I could participate meaningfully in this democratic farce.  I even reached the conclusion that voting strategically to prevent the Liberal candidate from getting elected would make my participation somewhat meaningful.

However, according to the polls the Liberal candidate has a lead of about ten points, which renders even my protest vote null and void, ineffective, not worth the paper that carries my pitiful mark, absolutely fucking useless.

Cry me a river!

Don't you know that the iron law of oligarchy rules the land.  Democratic participation is just a facade.  What the game is all about is mobilizing enough supporters so that more votes are cast for one oligarch over another.  That's it.  No more complicated than that.  The winner takes all, and the political power is transferred from the population at large to a very small elite running what is essentially nothing more than an electoral machine.

Hey, wait a minute, if that's the case, I am little more than a fucking peasant living in the twenty first century.

Yeah, but look at all the useless shit you can buy.  Have fun.  Don't worry. Be happy!

Enjoy the spectacle as long as you can and be content with the fact that although you don't live in a democratic society, you can accumulate a lot of stuff, which, if you so desire, you can pass off to your children.

Fuck that, all I want is for my vote to count.

Well, in that case, you really are shit out of luck.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Three Ring Circus, a Horse Race, and a Pussy Riot

It's a funny thing living in the second decade of the twenty-first century.  There's such a wide gap between our technological reach and our social institutions.

On the same day, I can view the latest images beamed back from the planet Mars and learn that the young women from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison for their performance of a prayer in Russian Orthodox Church to rid Russia of its president, Vladimir Putin.

I guess some people just don't get or appreciate performance art.  Check out the video at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCasuaAczKY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Here at home, I have the pleasure of watching the spectacle of Quebec's general election called during the summer before the much anticipated anti-corruption inquiry gets down to serious business.

This is politics as spectacle at its best.

As a prelude to the election, we were entertained by a student protest that had great visuals: stone throwing, breaking windows, police whacking unarmed protesters with night sticks, tear gas, and let's not forget those near-naked marches through the streets, followed by the widespread banging of pots and pans to protest the government's adoption of draconian law that makes it illegal for more than fifty people to assemble without notifying the authorities.

Once the writ was dropped, we have the three leaders of the main political parties making promises left and right to spend taxpayers money as if there were no tomorrow in the heaviest-taxed, most debt-ridden province or state in North America.

Like carnies, each leader tries to seduce us with promises of a job, lower taxes, a family   physician, braces or free school supplies for the kids, even parking spaces.

Then there are the leaders of the smaller parties that the media won't give the time of day clamoring for attention, but to no avail since the voting system relegates them to cameo appearances only.

Periodically, just in case our attention wanes, the latest poll appears to tell us how the parties are performing relative to each other

According to the pundits, the real race for the finnish line starts with the leaders debate.  I can hardly wait to watch the three consecutive televised one-on-one mud slinging contests and the be treated to the in-depth analysis of whether or not a knock-out blow was delivered.

At the end, we'll huddle around our 50 inch plasma televisions watching as the results of the 125 winner-take-all electoral contests are announced, all of us hoping that our preferred political narrative unfolds, uncertain because of the systemic distortions of the popular vote that the first-past-the-post voting system regularly brings about.

Personally, I'm a big fan of schadenfreude.  I'm hoping that I'll have the pleasure to see our former Premier eat humble pie as his government is defeated and he loses his own seat in Quebec's National Assembly.

Yes, that would be sweet, bittersweet, since Jean Charest will have left politics with not one but two fat pensions at taxpayers expense, while leaving us with a mountain of debt that will take generations to pay.

But hey that's politics in a settler state that still has a foreign monarch as its head of state nearly 150 years after confederation and uses an electoral system that dates back to the middle ages.

For God's sake Scotty, beam me off this backward planet!  I want to be surrounded by intelligent life.

And while you're at it Scotty, do something for the members of Pussy Riot.  They really deserve a better fate.