Here’s something new besides Election 2011 for which I may sue somebody. You may have heard it among the thousands of ads we’re exposed to—even while watching the news. “By George . . . it’s George—exclusively at WALMART”
At WALMART, no less. Henceforth, don’t look for me at Sears, The Bay or Work Wearhouse. WALMART has appropriated me for their “exclusive” use. Used to be, classmates in elementary school would taunt me with “Georgie, Porgie, puddin’ ‘n’ pie, kissed the girls and made them cry.” Now I expect I’ll be greeted with “By George . . . it’s George.” How can I and all the other Georges go on after this?
If that isn’t depressing enough, how about the election rhetoric we’re supposed to swallow day after day? My good friend, HS, and I agree. Democracy may be a wonderful ideal, but the way we do it these days, i.e. party-system acrimony, is dumbing down the population. The competition for seats has become the underlying theme, as if it were the world cup of propaganda; the issues are only trotted out as absolutely necessary to support that propaganda. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between the competition for sales among the big box chains and our politics, except the retail world may still retain a smidgen of respect for our intelligence, 'by George . . . it’s George' notwithstanding.
CBC interviewed some voters in a car dealership in Northern Alberta the other day. They will all vote for Stephen Harper. One said, “Ah, we’ll probably vote Conservative, and then be ashamed of what we get.” If that doesn’t sum it all up, I don’t know what would. He’s obviously grasped in his own way the absurdity of party politics in our day.
HS suggests that change will never come from the top, and I agree. At any given point, the persons in government see it as a detriment to their interests to effect a change. That’s our Gordian Knot. But I look at Libya, Egypt and Tunisia and realize the other truth that HS iterated forcefully: change has to be forced by the people, by you and me.
So here’s one proposal. A vote strike. Let’s all agree to spoil our ballots, or stay away from the polling stations altogether and back our refusal to participate with a clear message and a bold demonstration that we want a more civilized governance model, and then insist upon it. There would be massive upheaval for a time, but look at Egypt; if you’re serious about change, you have to put some money where your mouth is.
Here’s one example of what we’ve allowed ourselves to become: that debacle we call a “Leaders’ Debate,”—that display of petulance, bad manners and false accusations wants to exclude Elizabeth May because the Greens had no representation in the last parliament. Well excuse me, this isn’t about who GOT elected, but who WILL BE elected! Every Canadian who votes will see a representative of each party on the ballot and will choose among these equals. It is in our power to make Elizabeth May prime minister, and for the leaders currently in office to deny that we have a chance to oust them and choose someone else—say Jack Layton or Elizabeth May—is tantamount to holding the ballot in contempt.
But then, contempt for the people, their parliament and now, their ballot, seems not to be a deterrent politically.
This, too, shall pass. But only if we want it badly enough and exercise some courage.
If you happen to see me this week, don’t greet me with “By George . . . it’s George” or I will take you to WALMART against your will, chain you to the ladies’ wear rack and make you spend a whole day absorbing the ambience of consumerism gone mad. Or I’ll make you sit through the entire leaders’ debate.
Two scenarios specifically designed to prepare us for the rigours of hell.