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elections and the state of democracy

October 6, 2013

_DSC6233So, we are in the final days of a provincial election campaign here in Nova Scotia, and all three campaigns can be summed up by one slogan: “I’m not the other guy, vote for me”. (Apparently there is a fourth political party, the Green Party, but I’ve not seen hide nor hair nor a single street sign declaring their existence.)

What we’ve had is 40 days of three middle-aged balding white men who jump up and down on pogo sticks all day long and jostle and smile for the camera and say ‘vote for me’, no, ‘vote for me’.

With political strategists who all went to the same business and marketing schools, who covet 1) the ring of polling, 2) populism, and 3) today’s wind direction, and who know full well that fewer and fewer people actually give a rat’s ass what any of the parties don’t say about anything – especially anything important like the state of the economy, Nova Scotia’s massive public health problems (obesity, addictions), or the environment – the pollsters know that their best chance is to say nothing at all.

Best to repeatedly throw around hollow slogans like “put people first” (Liberals), “change starts at the top” (Conservatives), and “together, we can do even more” (NDP).

Outstanding.

The NDP Party, which came into power on the “wave of change” in the last election – replacing the inept Conservatives – have also bungled and corrupted and dished out big money to corporate friends in high places just as much as their predecessors, and will now be replaced (according to the polls) by the Liberals – whose sole strategy this campaign is that they are not the NDP.

It all grows tiresome quickly. (Which will be reflected in record low voter turn-out rates on Tuesday.)

But this is the state of democracy everywhere in North America these days.

The strategists are all similarly schooled, they all read the same data. They know that we are now so A.D.D. addled that we will forget what you said by lunch (which is why you have the Republicans last Monday saying that the American federal government shut down is a wonderful thing and that it doesn’t hurt anyone, and then by Wednesday blaming the impending economic crisis on Obama.) Politicians know that by Wednesday no one remembers what they said on Monday.

Polling suggests that we are too overwhelmed with our lives to have a real discussion of the political issues, that we believe global capitalism is beyond our control to do anything about. The strategists know that only idealists and ideologues are the only ones who still vote.

So say nothing concrete. Smile. Shake hands. Say empty words – and then say more empty words.

Outstanding.

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