Repost from Sept 15, ravensview.substack.com
Freedom, and Frustration
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” -Charles Dickens
So much anger, so much frustration. The recent protests, in particular last winter’s “Freedom Convoy” here in Ottawa, brought a lot of that to the forefront, but it’s been on the boil for a while. There is anger amongst protestors worldwide at being mistreated by the system, and they are frustrated that they seem to keep being ignored. In some ways they are right, they are being misused and mistreated and ignored by the current system. Face it, many (most?) politicians are in it mainly for the power and the glory. And once in power they then ensure their efforts are focused on the issues and demographics needed to stay there, on those people best situated to contribute to the economy, while fitting in smoothly and quietly. And of course, people that will pay back with their vote. It is ironic too, that sometimes the protesters are misused, mistreated, and ignored by the leaders of their movement - power is tempting.
In many cases, the protestor’s role in the system is due to factors out of their control, such as poverty, race, or gender. And it doesn’t help that the latest disruption to the status quo - COVID - often serves to exaggerate those differences, those disadvantages. But I do realize some find themselves where they are due to poor personal choices, which is also unfortunate.
However, the very nature of these protests is a refusal to work within the system to change it, but instead to work against it from the outside. The latter approach is a valid choice, but is less effective and will increase the frustrations, adding to the convictions of many that the system is corrupt, nobody listens to them, and it’s not their fault. The rallying cries of “Freedom” and “No More Mandates”, and the lack of any real platform, hinted at one reason they were avoiding using the internal process. The groups really couldn’t define what they stood for, or wanted, at least not consistently or coherently. Freedom is a nice idea to yell in a crowd while pumping your fist in the air, but the last protest was also occurring as Putin was invading Ukraine in a ‘special military operation’. Ukrainians all had a very clear idea of what freedom meant. They were in a life or death struggle for freedom to remain a complete nation, freedom from their schools and malls being bombed, freedom from their women being raped, and freedom from their men being shot.
Up here, it meant they wanted freedom from mandates. When the organizers were more specific, it meant their freedom from mandates requiring COVID virus precautions, especially for truckers entering Canada from the US. We have mandates for a lot of things, a lot of official orders to do things. Drive on the right-hand side of the road, don’t shoot people, pick up after your dog, get a COVID shot - that is how living with others in a society works.
Personal freedoms are always balanced against the collective good. There’s a good article on this via The Commonwealth Fund, What Do We Owe Each Other? Balancing Personal Freedom and Collective Responsibility in the Age of COVID. But it seems most of the protestors don’t really consider this, or at least have an inflated self-worth that skews any balance. I think many of their beliefs are just that - beliefs - held strongly without the need for any underlying facts to back them up. Like believing in fairies or astrology or the gods. Unfortunately, many of the protestors’ beliefs are not in the best interest of the collective good at all. Science is seen as a tool used by the elites, the media, the corporations, and the “woke” libtard politicians, a tool used to maintain their power. It follows that any science behind COVID mandates is mistrusted, even as it tells us that COVID is a risk to the health of many, and that these mandates reduce that risk.
I think another reason for not using existing political processes is they don’t know how they work, so feel it’s a black hole of rules and regulations and red tape that nobody could hope to understand. One example was the belief if the Governor-General were given a big enough petition calling on her to dissolve the government, she would do it. They truly believed that she had the power to do so and was required to follow the will of the people. There were also calls for various levels of government to resign, or to fire each other, or even for impeachment.
But again, why not try to change within the system? Why not work at the municipal, provincial, or federal levels? Why not support a good candidate, influence the marginal, and replace the bad ones with themselves? Any suggestions? Maybe they had personal experience fighting red tape - and losing. Maybe they see too many examples on TV, especially from the US, of people protesting. It is exciting to join a crowd, to march together, maybe to even get on TV yourself. That is until you get tear-gassed or trampled in a mob. Politics on the other hand is calmer, safer, and behind the scenes. It can also be a lot of work, slow, boring, and complicated. Many of us don’t know a lot about how our political system works. I know I picked up a lot over the years, but mainly from curiosity, and a desire to actually take part. Unfortunately, many fill the gaps in their political knowledge, wrongly, with what they see in the US media. But while we all have our share of anger and frustration at various things in life, obviously we don’t all go on a violent protest in the middle of winter. Others that are not particularly knowledgeable about politics, or that can’t be bothered, just stay out of it all together. And some, despite the uphill battle, take part in the process. But not enough.
According to Elections Canada, voter turnout is decreasing amongst youth. Us old farts still vote, but we won’t be around forever. And voting seems to be habit-forming for youth. Meaning if you vote in the first election after you turn 18, you’ll probably be a lifetime voter. If not, you likely won’t pick up the habit later. So why don’t they vote?
I have some ideas, building off another Elections Canada report.
Youth electors tend to show lower levels of satisfaction with and interest in democracy and politics. I suspect as youth, dependent on parents, they didn’t see the impact on them personally of many government policies, and they were not voters needing to be targeted and wooed. Plus, politics is complicated and boring, unless you were lucky enough to have a school that ran a mock election or a pretend parliament. And you didn’t mind being a nerd.
Youth electors tend to be less knowledgeable about identification requirements, and less familiar with Elections Canada. They have never voted before, and some of their knowledge gleaned is just from US television.
Getting registered is a challenge for some youth. They may not pay attention to that first voter information card, they might even be moving around too much for it to find them. And, not being aware of the process, they might not even make the effort to ensure they are registered correctly.
Youth tend to find their polling places less familiar and harder to find or get to. Because they don’t have a history yet with that place, or even the process.
Proving identity or address remains a challenge for some youth. They may have the wrong information on their card, or not know what they need to show - again, a first-time thing.
Youth tend to have less confidence and trust in the electoral process. And there we have it, that’s the crux of the matter. They need to be convinced otherwise by the political parties.
Basically, they, well everybody, need to be motivated to learn about how the process works, and to want to take part in it, to get involved in effecting political change. I’m not sure how that will happen. Throw more funding at it? Make voting yet another mandate? US politics in particular is a huge top-heavy juggernaut, terribly split down the middle, travelling to an eventual collapse. Taking a big chunk of society with it. Many other countries are following the same path, or leaning that way.
There is a mistrust of science, of facts, an inability to engage in critical thinking, and an eroding of empathy and morals. Are people dumber, are they more racist and bigoted? I think the Bell Curve for these things has always been there, for every brainiac on one slope, there’s an equivalent on the other side. TheInterwebs has made different groups more visible and made it easier to people to find others to fit in with. But we can’t change that.
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“I’m at a place in my life when errands are starting to count as going out.”