‘Asinine subjects’ keep voters down

In his novel Seeing, the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Jose Saramago, proposes an interesting option for voter apathy

Re: Politics is not entertainment (Opinion, March 14)

In his novel Seeing, the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Jose Saramago, proposes an interesting option for voter apathy and rebellion: voting in mass, but in blank.

Voter apathy reflects the disconnection existing between the electorate and a political system based on narrow partisan loyalties, personalities, popcorn-and-fluff, showbiz, glitz, and plenty of money whereby differences among parties are mostly cosmetic. The elites donate to all political parties indistinctly because none of the parties represents a serious threat of change to the status quo.

Voters have freely elected Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Rob Ford, Bill Vander Zalm and others who have taken us to wars of aggression, removed social safety nets, privatized our infrastructure, destroyed our national industry, created homelessness, closed hospitals and made soup kitchens necessary.

In free societies, such as Canada, controlling people by open violence is not necessary when other ideological means are available that are far more subtle and successful than a bayonet or a club.

A population immersed in asinine subjects such TV shows, mindless sports, gossip journalism and sensationalist crime stories cannot possibly be expected to be discerning and alert when it comes to identifying the differences between competing political and class interests, including their own interest. Any political system that can form a federal “majority” government with 39 per cent of the votes in elections where 40 per cent of the people did not vote is a system that lacks legitimacy and can only exist by using deceit, manipulation and money.

Voting is not the problem: lack of imagination, political education and civic culture is.

Carlos Flores





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