Sunday, April 17, 2011

Choose your own Adventure - Welcome to Electoral Politics

So, we're all disengaged from the current election. Expectations are that the voter turnout will be the lowest to date. The voters complain of a lack excitement, vision and alternatives.

We complain because we're addicted to being the audience. To watching the story, not being part of it. We're afraid of drama's that are bigger than us, the will always exceed our grasp, because they are about our world. But let's start small. Let's look at each of these complaints.

Well we lack the excitement of the last election in the US. But really, was that excitement a good thing. That country just came out of surviving the worst president the country had ever seen and in came a fabulous orator capable of inspiring hope. About a new beginning with real policy.
Then the rubber hit the road and his popularity drops like a stone – because policy is never about the quick and easy fix. If it was, policy would be easy. So politicians are cautions, because voters are.

This is a bullshit complaint – there's plenty of visions. It's just that true vision usually involves two things, risk and sacrifice. Now the fact that the electorate doesn't really yearn for these things from government is fine – I have no complaint with this (actually I do, but not wanting these things is a perfectly reason position to take).
So what we want is adventure without inconvenience. A video game. Not life. Sorry kids – there's plenty of visions – from the Greens to the Family Coalition. You want Vision, then bloody well take a chance.

Not quite the same as the above – though often related. There actually are alternatives. Politicians are not all crooks. But if you want a safe bet, but with some specific direction, then you have to pay attention. Now sometimes this is easy – in Canada we've had elections with very clear outcomes – FTA, NAFTA, Charlottetown, Deficit reduction (the Manning/Martin dynamic) and classically, the origins of Medicare.

So, assuming I'm correct in my evaluations above (a stretch I'm sure) why don't we just suck it up and vote?

For a couple of reasons. One is that very few people work to make politics accessible. Note that I'm not saying interesting, but accessible. Dave Meslin has a few great examples around this here:

It's a very short, very good talk, please take a look at it.
Also, if we do care, if we do engage, we are made to feel like patsies. Silly fucking romantics who can't face the ugly truth. Apathy is the only real alternative. When, of course, the reverse is true.

And finally, because we are addicted to the STORY. The beginning, middle and end.

Politics is always about now, and we never know the outcome and that frustrates the shit out of us. Leaves us guessing and worried and fearful. So we avoid it, concentrate on what we need to survive, rather than engage in the endless possible, but never guaranteed.

C'mon folks, be IN the story. Take a chance. The hero never really knows the outcome. And in electoral politics, you are the hero. Even now, whether you know it or not.

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