What is in this article
I volunteered for a political ‘cause’ for the first time, participating on Saturday May 27, 2023. These are some observations arising from that experience1. I don’t think that is the kind of volunteering I want to do again any time soon. It has lead me to the following thought:
I believe the ‘silent majority’ is not uninterested in politics; they are simply fed up with political manipulation and misrepresentation (among other things)2.
Keeping Ontario’s health care system public (that is avoiding widening the practice of two-tier health care, where those with more wealth pay for better health, at the expense of the majority who are left with a less effective public health care system).
Why I have written this
In helping with the unofficial referendum on this subject, I heard and saw troublesome approaches and behaviours. Writing about it is difficult because I am sure those who want privatization (in particular the PC party of Ontario, who are the current government) will undoubtedly take any excuse to ignore the will of the majority of Ontarions (who I believe oppose the current government’s direction on this file). Despite that I will not remain silent because I am convinced that turning a blind eye to problems is counter-productive to achieving better results.
And a bit of suspicion
I also suspect there may have been some hijacking of the original plan, by those with greater ideological passion, but less valuing of others views than envisioned by (at least) the original local organizer. This could be simply a tendency to jump at shadows, however.
The premise of this piece
Ultimately this article is about how much of our politics has become different ideologies seeking to game the majority into suppporting every facet of an ideology, even when the majority doesn’t (I’m quite sure) buy into any one framework with great zeal, and would much rather see communication and compromise.
My thoughts on a common vision
The desired approach would include attention to, and acting on, public input which is sought in a (real) spirit of information seeking (avoiding bias to the extent possible). It would also include maintaining space for those who do not fit into the (fictional) ’normal’ mould. This would allow many different groups to thrive and peacefully cooperate, rather than having different tyrannical masters, each trying to shoehorn all the other groups into their belief system for the duration of their turn at power (and as much beyond as they are able to cause to occur).
A political reality
It seems those who are deeply embedded in an ideology (even if it an ideology such as ‘greed is good’, or the belief in the pursuit of one’s own interests ahead of all others regardless of negative consequences for others in the long, or even short, term; rather than a more extensive ideological system) are prone to being opportunistic and publicly attaching themselves to any cause which is important to a great swath of the population, (or a cause which is about objecting to some policy or approach, as with the current (well-justified) concerns about privatization) but if the public gets on board with some campaign by such an ideological group, these groups have a tendency to misrepresent the support for the root issue as support for any number of ‘attachments’ or additional ideas or policies which the public does not in fact agree with or wholeheartedly support.
This leads to the public becoming disenfranchised from the process and trying to ‘sit it out’.
Silence is not an effective defence
Unfortunately by saying nothing, or not objecting, or having one’s only participation in the political system be voting once every four years, one gives away one’s voice and power to those who do speak up, and who do participate.
What we can do
- Speak up and support others who do so as well, even when you disagree with them.
- Take issue, publicly and loudly with anything that appears to be retaliation or reprisal for supporting (or having in the past supported) the ‘wrong’ (i.e. not in agreement with that of those currently in positions of power) position.
- Do not buy into smear campaigns implying, or outright claiming, corruption or illegal activity. If there is such, and there is genuine knowledge of the same, it is the role of our police services to investigate and the the Crown Attorney to prosecute. (This is also why it is important that judges and justices of the peace not be a matter of vote and/or partisan appointments or processes for selection and installation).
- Support politicians who are willing to be truthful and upfront about their positions and beliefs, even when you do not agree 100% with every position and every belief, especially when said politicians are willing to listen to all members of the region which they represent. Prefer those who seek to advance solutions that are the result of listening and seeking to implement the will of not only a bare majority of the members of the region (or worse a select minority who happen to be their hard-core ‘base’) but seek collaborative and compromise positions that include the needs and wants of as many members of the region as is humanly possible.
- Don’t settle for politicians who will not oppose their party (for provincial and federal positions), when ‘The Party’ is not reflecting the needs and wants of as much of the region as possible.
- Reduce the power of the party system, including unelected and elected party leadership.
- Encourage and support politicians who are willing the ‘break’ ‘cabinet solidarity’, when the cabinet is clearly out of step with the region (e.g. province or country).
- Better yet, eliminate ‘cabinet solidarity’ as a ’thing’. I believe it does more harm that good. Having said that, when I am on a board, I try to follow the current rules on what is permissible for me to represent. I would suggest that the important thing is not that a cabinet, board, or council ‘speak with one voice’ but that members of any decision making body make crystal clear when they speak of their own views, and directing any enquiries on the official group position to the chair of same group. In addition, information which is subject to confidentiality or privacy rules, must not be made public even if an opposing member or members of the group disagree(s) strongly with the group position and cannot effectively make their argument without revealing such information. Finally, in no reasonable universe should a member of such group be making accusations against other members of the group, even ‘amongst friends’ (that making accusations to their friends). (That’s how rumour mills start, and I detest rumour mills).
- Do not participate in twisting others positions, or trying to force others (even ‘only’ by refusing to let others have a differing opinion without constant ‘grief’).
- Be safe, be kind, and treat others and yourself well.
We have challenges, but I believe we can overcome them, if we are willing to take the chance to speak up and allow others to speak, as well as opposing the nonesense that has come to dominate public political discourse.
Oh, and if you can’t be kind on social media, don’t comment on social media. Likewise comments sections.
If negative and/or constantly bashing or upset statements or comments are your game, I humbly suggest you seek out evidence-based means to improve your mental health, and outlooks (such as CBT3) in ways that empower you to speak up for what you believe, and oppose that which you don’t, in more constructive and effective ways.
I was troubled by it, hence this article. I don’t regret having taken the time to do so, however, as I feel it gave me valuable insight into how politics is done from a social perspective (i.e. not government / civics). ↩︎
There is also fear that one’s region and or oneself may be subtly (or overtly) retaliated against for being publicly opposed to the policies of ‘The Party’ (currently in power), or having historically opposed the policies of ‘The Party’ (currently in power) when they were not yet in power, or supported policies of other parties in preference to the ‘The Party’ (currently in power). I find it especially troubling when I see this behaviour in a supposed stable, safe, and mature democracy such as Ontario, Canada. ↩︎
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. But be careful that you learn such self-therapy from reputable sources, as there there are ‘snake-oil’ peddlers who pretend to be doing CBT, but are in fact doing something without a well researched, evidence-based basis. ↩︎