Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our Crisis in Democracy

It has been far too long since I published my last post.  I blame this on no one but myself of course.  The truth is that I have been struggling with depression for many years.  I know I am not alone in this and feel that perhaps this is the malaise that is most prevalent in Canada and our dear neighbour, the United States.

I don't believe that moving to Gabriola has contributed to my depression but I do know that being retired has.  I thought my retirement as an earned freedom.  After working for close to 50 years, paying taxes to a faceless, demanding government, I felt this freedom was well earned.   I still do.

However, freedom can be "just another word for nothing left to lose."  I thought that my photography and my writing would carry me for the rest of my days.  I still do.  But I no longer see it as a financial support, this island is small and as remote as I would care to be.  The mechanisms to establish and develop a web presence are certainly there but I have no interest or energy for working in the isolation that seems to go with web based marketing when what is really needed is a personal presence.

Having a small pension is a blessing to be sure, but trying to live on it has been a struggle and a losing proposition.   I have watched my overdraft climb and my opportunities diminish over the last three years.  Moving to an island like this, at this time of life, has become a one way trip.   Yes, I love it here and I love this community, but the truth is, I can never move back to the city.   I simply can't afford it.

But recently, I found a job working evenings, three nights a week, in a local liquor store, for minimum wage.  It has been an enormous gift.    The few dollars that I make every month is more than money.  It is hope.  I'm slowly taking care of the debts that I have accrued over these last few years and have a rough plan for the long term.

Frankly, I have no complaints, my life is what it is and there is plenty in it to sustain me.

However, I was startled when a young man walked into the store the other day, just before the US election.

"You've been around for a while." he said.   "Do you know how I can eliminate my name from the voter's list?"

In further conversation he confessed that he felt our electoral system was flawed, that his vote had no meaning, that the government was comprised of megalomaniacs who cared not a whit for the common man.   Therefore he wanted to opt out.

When it became obvious to him that I thought he was making a huge mistake, he walked out.

A few days later, the Republicans won a huge victory in the midterms with a record low turnout of 36%.

That means that 64% of the voters declined to show up at the polls.

I am convinced that each one of those no-shows is convinced that their vote has no value.

I refer you to this article on Bill Moyers' site in response to this terrible situation.

There is little doubt that our Prime Minister is in fact, a Republican.   He holds republican values and is operating as if parliament is nothing more than a serious inconvenience to his ideology.

Elizabeth May describes this more eloquently than I ever could in this article from the Huffington Post.

In short, I think that we are all suffering.  I think that we have lost hope for the future and feel helpless against the big money that is destroying our democracy.

But we must not fail.  If every single Canadian voter took responsibility and showed up at the polling station with an concerned and informed decision on who would do the best job for this nation, our collective depression would evaporate, our economy would turn around and our values would be reflected in the policies that govern the country.

Well, maybe not, but it sure would make our democracy meaningful.   I can't believe that the majority of Canadians support the actions of this government.