What Do BC’s Non-Voting Majority Do?

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Many have written about the discouraging reality of BC politics that for the first time our voter turnout dropped below 50% in the last provincial election. While there is clearly a massive and currently incomplete flux in how the public views politicians and political parties, there is the constant view out there that people will come back to parties because it is the elected politicians who can actually change things.

People seem to be caring less for that conclusion since most didn’t vote at all 18 months ago.

But what are people actually doing? Not only do 25% of British Columbians consider themselves to be activists, some are taking the position that regardless of party ideology or practice, activists are committing to an issue and pursuing any and all politicians to embrace their issue. That will lead to activist support.

Woe betide a politician who promises support for an issue then doesn’t deliver: responsive democracy.

And if you are looking for a bold example of this theory of what many of the non-voting majority are doing, look at the Common Sense Canadian for an expression of that very thing.

The Common Sense Canadian will support candidates or parties based not on their political philosophy, but on their commitment to saving our environment – not just because it’s beautiful but because to do otherwise is fiscal madness.

via Where We Stand on BC Politics & The Environment.

Saving our environment, to them, means these four demands:

  1. A re-commitment to protecting farmland, a “commitment that commits them to keep to their commitment”.
  2. A closure of all fish farms in our oceans especially near routes of migrating Pacific salmon while encouraging dry land operations.
  3. A commitment to keep our precious coast free of Tar Sands oil supertankers from the proposed Enbridge pipeline and Kinder-Morgan expansion.
  4. A commitment to end all licensing of private power construction, PLUS – and this is critical – making public all private power contracts in existence, coupled with a flat refusal to honour any which are unconscionable.

So if you happen to be one of the one million self-identifying activists in British Columbia, chances are you are thinking far more strategically about pursuing your issues than just joining a political party in hopes of pushing your issues. After all, even a generous estimate of 50,000 members of BC political parties is only 5% of the number of self-identifying activists in BC.

The playing field and rules of engagement are changing in BC. They’ve shifted a dozen times in the last 5 weeks. They will shift again a few times next week with more people declaring that they think they can lead the Liberal party. And they will shift more until February 26, 2011 when we’ll have a new premier, recall campaigns underway, new hints or promises about the HST and its referendum, changes to the minimum wage and a handful of other politically inflammatory policy issues.

Then when our new premier takes over, watch for an election call before 2013, a new throne speech and a new budget.

And that’s just with the Liberal party. The NDP, BC Conservatives, BC First, and various recently dormant political figures will be in play as well.

So if you have an issue, handcuff yourself to it and hop on your political surfboard because the waves will be undulating sometimes wildly in the next three months.

And keep your wits about you, while truly engaging with your instincts. You’ll need them both.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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4 thoughts on “What Do BC’s Non-Voting Majority Do?”

  1. Thousands of BC citizens, are aware of Campbell’s pollution plans for BC. This province is utterly destroyed financially. Campbell did say, he would be around for some months. He also said, he would continue with his work. Which is of course, his usual dirty work. Campbell’s back is against the wall, he will have to pollute, to get some money back. He went too far with his corruption, and our beautiful province, will pay the price. Don’t anyone think, the Fish Lake ordeal is over, it’s not, it can be reapplied for. Campbell’s ugly disposition showed it’s self, when the First Nations People, objected the, Enbridge dirty oil pipeline, and China’s dirty oil tankers, on our pristine coast. He also destroyed, the most valuable farmland in Canada. The site C dam, which has flooded that farmland. That water goes to the dirty Alberta tar sands. They have found deformed fish, in Lake Athabasca. They have also found, oil in the mighty Athabasca River. And, another flock of ducks died landing on the filthy sludge. All of this from the dirty tar sands. The Athabasca watershed is now contaminated. The Enbridge pipeline has had, many a pipe burst, such as the river in Michigan, that was a, terrible disaster. Worse, Harper and Campbell, want to drill, gas and oil wells, off the coast of BC, in an earthquake zone. There was a 6.6 quake off the Queen Charlotte’s. It is corruption and greed that govern this entire country. They have pretty much stolen the citizens blind. Now there is no more money to exploit from the people, they will now start with serious pollution in BC.

  2. When someone can logically and factually explain to me how any Party — indebted first to its larger financiers, and which demands a voice of solidarity while operating in the Legislature without a free vote by the elected members — can possibly represent the 85 different electoral districts and the public as a paramount concern, I will stop saying we are deceiving ourselves about thinking change is coming from the Party system.

    The system does not even pretend to represent the people’s interests if results of public polls on issues like water or health or education or the environment are matched against government conduct. There is no accountability. We simply tolerate the best of the worst when we vote, and most are tired of even doing that. It is madness, and I suggest full-blown lunacy, to BS ourselves any further into thinking real change is coming from Party politics as it now stands.

    We will develop grassroots democracy and start electing people we choose to go forward and represent our district’s democratically selected needs, or we will continue our march further right and become an even more efficient, exploitive and totalitarian capitalist state. Think Capitalism with Asian values. Think Singapore. Think China.

    This is our direction. We either get honest about whom we put into government, about real democracy, and about participating from below OR we will get consumed from above. Like the soldiers fighting wars on command from above, I both pity and hold in contempt the public which has been too indoctrinated to see what is going on, or worse, learns about it but goes on participating in the destruction all the same.

    There is little propaganda more erosive of democracy than that of the money-backed Party political system, imo.

    1. 1st paragraph:
      – that’s merely the westminster parliamentary system

      2nd paragraph:
      – representative democracy means we periodically elect and empower people to make all sorts of decisions for us. direct democracy is more expensive, but increasingly sought.

      3rd paragraph:
      – or neoliberalism: unfettered capitalism the way the great god adam smith meant it

      4th paragraph;
      – we can also encourage those with ideas of a better way to step up and share/encourage them

      5th paragraph:
      – publicly funding elections is interesting. federally, parties get a dollar and something per vote, under certain circumstances. what if every candidate had equal public funding, what would democracy look like at election time and in between? there are some real innovations here:

      1. Look, we people are screwed. I know that. I think you know that, too. Everyday folks have a knack of sensing when they are getting shafted.

        The neocon forces like PNAC, with the support of those who are comfortable with authority and/or know their position (which is a hard habit to kick considering the violent opposition), will again prove that ‘might is right’. Has this not been humanity’s way for a couple millennia?

        I am not without blame, mind you. I suppose this ‘philosophy of might’ has been easy enough to impose against the likes of pacifists and compassionate progressives who are uncomfortable with the imposed authority of any man over another. You know, saps like me.

        So I try to resort to reason instead. I’ve learned that reasoning with a single person is tough enough at times; reasoning with humanity is impossible, particularly without the tools. We may be rational but, above all, we are emotional animals. And only those in control of the message can instill the fear and hate and patriotic fervor into our collective heads so we dutifully march to the hegemonist’s orders.

        One such order came recently with the financial meltdown (people losing their jobs and homes, their pensions and savings; nations going under and grovelling for the mercy of the IMF Banksters; and absolutely no end in sight) where we were commanded to throw everything into saving the holy banking institutions. For an economy, so it is claimed, cannot exist without them.

        The Quants created the CDOs, etc; the Financial Advisors sold them like a crack-dealer working a corner; the Banks chased profit and market share without regard to social impact, just as they are lawfully obliged to do; and the CEOs made off with billions of dollars in bonuses, ‘stolen’ from the public. In the end, we are told (more accurately, ‘sold’) that no one saw it coming. But worse, no one is responsible.

        So here is what I make of it all, in a nutshell. We dutiful obey, out of what ‘appears’ to be necessity, corporate demands. In Nuremburg the defence was ‘I was just following orders’. Today, filled with propaganda selling us a world view of entitlement, it’s us capitalists shouting ‘I was just doing my job’.

        This time, though, it doesn’t appear that any trials are going to make us account for our actions. We have opted, quite shamefully, to leave that burden for posterity.

        In the interim, as western capitalism flounders, as the ecological pressures force us to retreat back to our local villages, and as the totalitarian political forces strengthen, we can look forward to a new economic incarnation, a more efficient ‘capitalism with Asian values’. How long now until Canada is called ‘Singapore North’?

        Now I realize this appears to be an off-topic rant. It isn’t. As Emma Goldman said, “if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal”. But rather than overtly criminalize voting and to keep up the appearance of democracy, not-voting will become illegal.

        Voting at Singapore’s presidential election or parliamentary election is compulsory for all eligible citizens. It is part of the responsibility of being an adult Singapore citizen.

        We are truly living in most interesting times. ‘Ignorance is Strength’, as Orwell predicted. I’d clarify that a wee bit by saying ‘Our Ignorance is Their Strength’. As long as they can continue to dominate the message, we will remain ignorant.

        As Einstein told us, “the problems we face today cannot be overcome with the thinking that created them”. Thus we must change our thinking. But to do that, we must change the message. And honestly, how can we overcome this dominant control of the message? THIS IS the fundamental question of our times.

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