Sunday, October 02, 2011
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I've wanted to write a post about this for a couple of months now, but I couldn't figure out a way to downplay the bleakness of our world today. In an effort to put a more optimistic tone on the last decade, I believe things can be summed up in the following manner:
Now, I'm sure you're wondering how in the world this statement can be construed as being optimistic. I think the majority of people can generally agree with the "screwed" part in principal, however, it is the "we" part that I want to focus my commentary on.
The 2000s can be summed up as a decade in which the bad guys won, but the good guys grew exponentially. To focus in on the events of 9/11, the ascension of George W. Bush, and the greed that brought our economy down would be to give undue credence to the corrupt minority. In fact, while all of this was going on, a growing backlash has occurred against those who have abused the concept of freedom in the name of power.
The boundaries that have defined our society for decades -- namely race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation -- are finally showing signs of coming down. The advent of the Internet and globalization has shrunk our world and made us realize that we really aren't that different from one another. Despite the fact that the media continually plays up the growing violence between the Muslim and Western world, it is becoming clear that it is merely those in charge who are fighting. Meanwhile, a growing majority is uniting in the name of freedom, mutual respect, and fairness.
However, as is true in most cases, people who possess power will always find ways to keep it.
In the face of Obama's election, corporate funded propaganda machines such as Fox News have done everything they can to skew the concepts of freedom for their own personal gain. We're led to believe that corporations are the same as people, and as such, should have the freedom to say and do whatever they want. We see commercials on TV telling us we can lose weight with "little to no effort", and have just sort of accepted the fact that our society runs on a shaky ethical foundation. Dishonesty in the name of money and power has become the status quo.
To make things even worse, it has become obvious that those with money have more influence on our own government than the people do. The US Supreme Court -- an entity stacked with "political appointees" -- just last week ruled that capping corporate donations and lobby contributions to elected officials was "unconstitutional". Meanwhile, the Conservative party in Canada tried last year to remove public (and voter based) funding to political parties, which would have effectively left all influence in the government to wealthy private contributors.
But you know what? These people remain a minority. "They" will continue to hold a firm grip on power while "we" continue to grow. "We" elected a minority candidate to government on a message of change. "We" stand against the division that is continually growing between the rich and poor. "We" stand against oppressive regimes that use religion to control people.
The only thing we need to do is channel this opposition into our everyday lives. The corrupt want us to think that life is a "game" where exploiting our morals is the only way to get ahead. We need to start questioning what we are being told and what we are being asked to do on a daily basis. To give up and start playing the "game" is to give them more power.
Cynicism is the one quality that strays us all away from enacting real change. We need to realize that there are growing numbers of us who are at odds with the people in power.
Time will tell how this will all shake out in the decade to come.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Friday, November 28, 2008
With the terror attacks going on in India, a major political event in Canada was partially buried in the media last night. By Monday, the Conservative government may lose the confidence of the House of Commons, and a new leading party and Prime Minister may very well take power.
Canada has always sat somewhere between the extreme political system of the US, where a razor-thin majority results in a single party ruling the country, and Europe, where several smaller minorities regularly form coalition governments. As of Monday, this "middle-ground" approach to our democracy may very well be in crisis as the opposition parties in the House are expected to vote "no confidence" towards the ruling party only two months after an election.
The Liberals, NDP, and Bloc will attempt to make this about the economy, but there's actually a lot more at stake here. Stephen Harper gave a speech yesterday that virtually smacked down any notion of an economic stimulus package, and in many ways, this should not be surprising. It's just the standard ideological argument of Right versus Left that we're used to. The real heart of the matter, however, is a small clause in the mini-budget which takes away public funding of Canada's political parties.
The knee-jerk reaction to this "cost cutting measure" (it's pocket change compared to other bloated government programs) is "good riddance". Off hand, most taxpayers will question why their money is going towards lining the pockets of political parties in the first place. The reality, however, is that regardless of what happens either now or in the future, somebody is going to have to be lining these pockets--election campaigns aren't cheap. Would you rather have a fair system where parties receive funding based on the number of votes they get, or would you rather have a system where parties primarily receive funding from corporate and union interests?
If this argument feels somewhat familiar to you, you're not mistaken. The current United States government under George W. Bush has been solely focused on bending the constitution to give itself more political power while simultaneously pulling itself out of the lives of its citizens. Money talks, not votes. More power and less regulation to the corporations, especially those who fund campaigns. Noting can possib-lie go wrong.*
We've all seen how this is going to end if the Harper government succeeds. It is well known that the Conservatives receive much more funding from corporations than any other political party in Canada. Other parties--especially those that don't put corporate interests at the forefront--will have almost no funding, while smaller parties such as the Greens are likely to go completely bankrupt. The passing of this motion will dictate a permanent shift in the way our democracy operates.
If you don't like the notion of having yet another election or us moving towards a European style of government, think again. The very foundation of our country is at stake.
*I retain the right to insert Simpsons references at my discretion, regardless of the seriousness of my argument.
Monday, November 10, 2008
More importantly, the win signified a major and permanent generational shift in politics in the United States--a trend that you have to assume will spread throughout the free world. Advocates of social and economic conservatism have been shrinking in numbers as more and more liberal-minded youth are growing up.
While the Right will need to reinvent itself in order to have another chance at power, advocates of the old-school conservative ideology will die a slow death. Three states passed anti-gay legislation during the election and California (of all places) was one of them, which put the status of thousands of married couples in jeopardy. And while Obama's gains among rural voters in the north were impressive, white voters in the deep south flatly rejected him.
But here's the thing. Conservatism as it stands has never and will never work. It's a known fact that a bad economy usually results in a Republican defeat during the election season, which makes you wonder why Americans have taken so long to catch on to this trend. An unregulated free market allows the rich and greedy to seize control of power without the best intentions in mind, and the economy has consistently failed under a system that allows the gap between the rich and the poor to expand. The credit crisis was not an accident.
For that matter, no ideology will ever work in government, conservative or otherwise. By definition, change and adaptation to a shifting world is often at odds when a rigid set of ideals are put in place whether they happen to be on the Left or the Right. Our generation understands this, just as the generations after us will learn from our mistakes. Obama represents a long awaited return to logic. His campaign, and hopefully his presidency, has shunned the easy giveaways and pointless ideological attacks that have plagued prior elections.
And so, there will be enormous pressure on Obama to prove to the world that fiscally responsible liberalism can work in government, and that our generation is ready to lead. However, if you consider the fact that the majority of the American people elected a minority candidate as president, it's clear to me that success has already been achieved.
Monday, November 03, 2008
One thing I love about politics is that it's really the only reliable way to capture the pulse of an entire society. Most people in the world may be truthful, but the only way to ensure that everybody is truthful is to give them their very own voting booth.
Like it or not, the election tomorrow will decide the direction of the world as we know it. This is a turning point. The United States is approaching eight years under one of the worst presidents in its history, and is caught in its worst financial crisis since the Depression. The country remains the world's greatest superpower, but if they are unable to adapt to the new realities of the world, we could be in the midst of fallen empire.
As Canadians, we need to realize how closely we're tied to the US for better or worse. I'll take a reformed America over a World War with China and Russia any day. Most networks are pitching the slogan, "the stakes of this election are high", and for once, they can't really overstate that fact.
Obama doesn't just represent a change in policy, but also represents a change in politics. Capitalism in America has dissolved into an aristocracy of a few hundred exceedingly wealthy people, and these people have a grip on the White House. If democracy is to work, it is up to millions of average Americans to reclaim the government.
And so, the direction of the world rests in the hands of millions of Joe the Plumbers. The only real question at this point is just how many Joe the fuckin' Plumbers are horribly racist, and exactly how many of those will lie to pollsters in order to hide their true intentions. My guess is a whole lot.
Still, if you look at the makeup of the current polls, a minority candidate is poised for one of the largest election landslides in US history. Tomorrow may very well be proof positive that democracy has the ability to heal itself from the ground up, or.....