Crazy Town 2: Electric Boogaloo (the dumbing down of Canadian politics)

Just under one month ago, I wrote about how Toronto, the city that I call home (even though I live just north of it in the suburbs of Newmarket) has completely lost it’s mind. I talked about how Rob Ford halted his mayoral re-election campaign, and how I had no idea who to vote for in the upcoming provincial election. However, over the last 22 days, I’ve had some time to reflect on something that has been particularly troubling to me.

When I lived in Etobicoke for 16 years, I knew who the candidates were, and more or less what they stood for in their platforms. They would hold rallies, do door-to-door canvassing with their constituent volunteers, and were annoying enough to call my house when I was trying to have a peaceful dinner with my family. Sure, they only really showed their faces whenever their jobs were on the line, but at least they put in the bare minimum requirement for me to say, “Okay, sure, yeah you can have my vote.”

However, that all changed when I moved up to Newmarket. Most people think that it’s incredibly far away, and if you use Toronto as a starting point, it’s no farther away than Pickering. Frankly, it actually feels closer, but that’s besides the point. In Newmarket, all the candidates have done are put up signs telling people to vote for them, so that they can either keep their job, or be hired for the first time. The problem here is that all I can see is a see of red and blue, with some orange and keep here and there, but the names don’t stand out to me. The candidates have yet to even do the bare minimum to get my vote. They haven’t held rallies, haven’t canvassed door-to-door with their constituent volunteers, and I thought I’d never say this, but I miss their annoying dinnertime phone calls to tell me about their platform and why I should vote for them. It’s a problem so much so that I had to search for the names. Yes, when it comes to politics, I should be involved and do my own research supplementary to what the people who want to be elected are telling me, but when the candidates aren’t even doing that much, I take issue with that.

If the candidates aren’t willing to put in any effort now, then chances are they won’t put in any effort when in office.

Gone are the days of inspiring, if polarizing, leaders like Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien, and now are the days of hapless fecks like Tim Hudak, Justin Trudeau, and Andrea Horwath.

But that’s not even the biggest problem. The biggest problem that we face as a province, and country as whole, is that we have lackluster, non-charismatic politicians that pander to every possible audience just to get votes, saying one thing to one group and something contradictory to another. It’s become our culture to sigh, and say, “well at least my candidate isn’t nearly as bad as your candidate is,” or that, “s/he’s the lesser of the evils we have to pick from.” Why, and how, has that become the state of Canadian politics? How is it that the only time a politician places ads on TV it’s to attack their opponant in the race to re-election? How is it that we can even consider electing someone who’s math is so horrible, he thinks that cutting 100,000 jobs will create one million.

How?

I’ll tell you how. It’s because we’ve dumbed down politics to historic lows. Think about this for a second. John Tory, the former Conservative heavyweight, is running against Olivia Chow (who’s only claim to fame, much like Justin Trudeau’s, is that she’s a family member, in her case a widow, or a famous federal level politician). The man running his campaign is the person that helped Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, get elected using the simple slogan of wanting to “Stop The Gravy Train.” It’s simple, but in actuality, it meant nothing, except for playing into the hearts of those who were tired of David Miller’s antics as Mayor. The same thing happened when the Conservatives beat out the Liberals in the 2006 federal election, by using the sponsorship scandal to sow the seeds of doubt into even the most ardent of liberals.

Politics has become a game of who can seem like they’re the most relatable to the “common folk.” Look at Rob Ford’s campaign. It was all about getting the vote of those who have always voted for conservative values, for the “simple minded, non-elitist” group of people out there. The issue with that is that yes, politicians should be relatable, and we should be able to take comfort in the fact that they too are humans and not heartless killbots, but we should also hold them to a higher standard. Gone are the days of inspiring, if polarizing, leaders like Tommy DouglasPierre Trudeau, and Jean Chrétien, and now are the days of hapless fecks like Tim HudakJustin Trudeau, and Andrea Horwath. Gone are the days when you actually votefor someone, rather than against someone else.

We should hold these politicians, and the leaders of our cities, provinces, and country, to a higher standard, and they should too as well. They should inspire us to reach ever higher, rather than being brought down to the lowest denominator. They should make us want to vote for them, by having platforms based on real issues, not attack ads and the ever present issue of cutting taxes. We should have politicians who aren’t afraid of doing things that will end their political careers, as long as it means helping the public at large for generations to come.

But we don’t, instead we have a system of having to choose the lesser of the evils with incredibly weak platforms. We have a system we pander to every possible audience, watering down any and all effective change for a few votes, and to me, that’s an incredibly sad state to be in.

I don’t know. I’m probably being overly hopeful, overly optimistic, but what I do know is that we need a change of politicians who talk less and act more.