Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Pit of Snarling Dogs

This truly is the spring of our discontent. The weather is abnormally cool and stormy compared with last year's abnormal warmth and winter's early end, in Ontario at least. Civil wars and uprisings in the Arab world. Disasters in Japan, and elsewhere. Economic uncertainty everywhere. 

Now this: A federal election that no one wants, or needs, except the politicians.

The sad truth is that the election will change nothing. The government might change, but little else will. The poor will remain, and likely increase in numbers. The middle class will continue to seek ways to overcome the burdens of rising costs and heavy taxation. The best off will continue to manipulate the system to become even more well off. The cultural gap between urban and country people will grow wider. The health care aneurysm will continue to swell until it finally ruptures.

Nothing will change until we cleanse ourselves of our vicious confrontational politics. Making the other guy look much worse than he really is -- through innuendo, spin and mind management -- has become more important than practising the arts of listening, thoughtful analysis and compromise in pursuit of common good.

The most important issue in this election is: How do we make the politicians understand and commit to doing what they are supposed to do. And that, for those who might have lost sight of it, is providing intelligent and decisive leadership without thoughts of personal gain or personal glory.

This election unfortunately is about keeping or obtaining power.

There is a possibility that fewer than 50 per cent of Canadians will vote in this election. The turnout in 2008 was only 59 per cent, and in the intervening three years more voters have become sickened by what they see of, and hear from, the politicians.

How could they not be sickened? Our politics here, and in the United States, have become a pit of snarling, backbiting dogs.

The nastiness of our so-called leaders is a national disgrace. The other day we had a senior Ignatieff adviser calling the prime minister "tin pot dictator." We have Conservative attack adds making Ignatieff look like a crazed person returning to Canada to rape and plunder.

Political rants from politicians and citizens have reached the level of hate mongering. Each time we denigrate someone, we denigrate ourselves and our system of government. Being honest and fair once was part of the Canadian identity. We lost much of that as we allowed our political discussions to sink to levels seen on the Jerry Springer Show.

Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, wrote:

"Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." (On the Duty of Civil Disobedience   1849).

The kind of Parliament we want, and need, we have not had for a long time in Canada. When they come knocking at the door this time, tell what we want. We are disgusted with them all and want our politicians working for the people through civil and intelligent discussion.