At the risk of appearing to be indulging in a little log rolling for this site, allow me to pick up on a thematic thread from my colleague’s post yesterday.
Our ever increasing democratic deficit.
After a slight walk on the wild side with the Better Ballots mayoral debate a week and a half or so ago where more than just the Gang of 6™®© were allowed on stage to air their ideas and differences, it’s been back to the business as usual format. The kids had been treated to an evening of dress up and pretending to be grown ups but now playtime’s over. Why, just the other evening CP24 hosted their second mayoral debate (of a conveniently numbered six) featuring their designated six front running candidates. How could you possibly open up the floor to more candidates and threaten that kind of entrenched synchronicity? Even the community held debates like the one in Parkview Hills this past Monday and hosted by John Tory, are opening their doors only to the 6 main candidates as if some hard and fast rule exists to keep interlopers out.
I understand why the media wants this easy to remember, uncomplicated setup. It’s difficult enough for the likes of Ben Mulroney to remember the names of all the candidates on stage, forced to use both hands to count heads while still managing to hold onto his microphone. Imagine what would happen if the numbers got into the double digits. (Keep your pants on, Ben.) I also indignantly understand why the anointed six want to be left on their own. No further sharing of the spotlight while lending credibility to their campaigns even if they haven’t earned it.
But why is the voting public so willing to chip in and contribute to the stifling of debate? Shouldn’t they want to hear a wider chorus of voices offering up a wider swath of ideas and solutions to the problems and concerns they’re facing? Surely we’re not as empty-headed as Ben Mulroney and are able to cope with slightly more complexity.
Then this appeared in our interwebs mailbox earlier in the week. A note from mayoral candidate Keith Cole (and participant in the Better Ballots June 1st debate), announcing his withdrawal from participation in PRIDE’s ALTERNA-QUEER event due to the organization’s banning of the phrase “Israel Apartheid” from its annual and iconic parade. Not really wanting to enter this particular fray, I bring it up only to point out that while every one of the front running candidates ducked for cover and came out in favour of the ban, and in favour of overt censorship through media, government and corporate pressure tactics, there was one dissenting voice with a dissenting opinion. Keith Cole made a stand (and sacrifice) for his principles. Yet he is being arbitrarily shut out for the sake of convenience and whatever other sinister reasons there are for maintaining a manageable status quo.
This is how totalitarian regimes operate, folks, to paint a shiny happy face of a free and open society. They present to their electorate a sanctioned list of candidates for the voters to choose from. Debates range from points A through to B. People cast their ballots. Someone the party has given their seal of approval to wins. No fuss, no bother. It’s what we usually refer to as a ‘sham election’.
But true democracy is messy. It shouldn’t be clean and easy to navigate. Giving voice to disparate views, as many views as demand to be heard, means tolerating – encouraging — a cacophonous din on the march toward forging a workable consensus. That’s how democracy works. The expectation of having everything presented in a nice tidy box is frighteningly short-sighted and narrow-minded especially this early on in the game. And it doesn’t qualify as democracy. What it is, what we should call it is mediacracy in all its appropriately homonymic glory.
— urgently submitted by Urban Sophisticat