The Prime Minister of Canada announced earlier this year that electoral reform would not be achieved in this term of Federal Government.
The news struck many Liberal voters painfully as the campaign promise that suggested a dramatic shift from the notably-flawed “First-Past-the-Post” system in place now, was, in actuality, a mere tease for the fairer democracy Canadians have been craving.
It goes without saying that a complete electoral overhaul of the current system is a daring move, one which cannot be implemented without consideration for every potential consequence down the road but in a political climate that integrates anti-Muslim rhetoric and “Barbaric Cultural Practices” hotlines into election platforms, a daring move may be just what is necessary.
The problem with democracy as it stands right now is that it is built on a system that divides its people. By examining your country in a dichotomic election, major world issues become polarizing. Conservative and Liberal ideals stretch themselves to their extremes in order to best encapsulate the needs of their demographics and issues which should be viewed in a state of gray become black and white topics with no real resolve until one side triumphs. Although this system has helped to benefit a significant amount of challenging world issues throughout the years, it still omits those which are perhaps the most taboo of conversations – those being the conversations surrounding race, religion, sex, orientation, and gender, ie: our most identifying physical/mental/emotional features.
Consider politics as an elastic band. You can stretch it left and you can stretch it right. But after a certain amount of stretching in either direction, the elastic is going to give. What you are witnessing right now across the world, be it Brexit, the Alt-Right movement, or the white supremacy movement taking place, is a response to decades of people being stretched too far. It is what occurs when the elastic reaches its breaking point.
In a way, this is good. Humans throughout history have a tendency of repairing their broken systems as they occur and finding new and innovative ways to move into the future. After all, we didn’t transition from Egyptian pharaohs to where we are today without a few stepping stones along the way.
However, this methodology in itself reflects just how truly unsophisticated we are in our ability to solve problems as a unit. Instead of planning for what may be, human beings are inherently absorbed by the present. Everyone likes to fantasize about what the world could be but no political leader in their right mind would spend time and resources investigating ways to change the system which made him/her the most powerful person in the country.
Which brings us back once again to the initial point of the conversation: What-is-the-problem-with-democracy?
Federal politics as it stands right now (at least in Canadian and similar systems) puts the absolute burden of responsibility for decision-making on our federal leaders (and as John Dalberg-Acton once expressed, “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but more on that later). In turn, constituencies abandon their own civic responsibility of remaining engaged in political processes. For a long time, this was a necessary procedure. As people lacked the instant communication systems of today, it was impossible for every resident to be involved in politics and live their own lives simultaneously. That all changed in 1876.
Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone revolutionized the world as we saw it. It gave an undocumented power to its beholder which was the ability to communicate with another human being in real time from across the world. The sheer thought of how the device would be perfected to the point of being accessible to any human being in a 3×6” form to fit in their pocket along with an endless supply of information would have toppled the 19th century on its head.
But it is a reality now. And changing realities demand changing frameworks from which we may govern.
As circumstances would have it, this era of enlightenment is occurring simultaneous to another era of capitalist oppression and a war is being fought everyday amongst ourselves to see which side will come out victorious. We call this war the political spectrum and in a black and white democracy, every four years, it is fought again.
It is an interesting tug-of-war to bear witness to and one of which tensions have never been greater but as previously mentioned, at some point, the elastic band must snap.
At the present time, political systems have two options:
- Remain with the status quo until the system inevitably breaks and then rebuild. Or;
- Plan for a society that promotes the peace and wellbeing of all community members by implementing the technologies that exercise communication strategies of the 21st
It should be said that the first option will get worse before it gets better and in order to work together, we must first bear witness to the increasing resistance of opponents to change. That said, history has a tendency to side with the ideal of progressiveness.
The second option is significantly more optimistic. It involves social activeness and long-term planning far beyond the 4-8 year terms we usually see from our political leaders… a minimum of 60 years into the future, in fact.
The internet is the tool necessary to unite people and create a system of government which is free from the burden of absolute power, absolute control, and of, course, absolute corruption.
In order for a self-governing system of politically minded citizens to work, however, citizens must first be politically minded enough to put aside their differences and agree that the will of the people is greater than the will of the powerful. In order for that to occur, the education system is in dire need of a revival, as well, to train our future decision makers on civic responsibility and world diplomacy.
We can do it, although the elastic band is tighter than it has ever been. Will it snap or will we take this opportunity to take a chance on something new? So begins the next great tug-of-war.