The Trouble with Democracy
Posted 6.9.21

SHAWVILLE, QC | Lend me your attention for a moment. This is not about local -- only issues, not about Covid, hockey, nor low moisture in our crops. This is about money, and money is the Trouble with Democracy.

Over the years I've voted for almost every political party, making me very unreliable, in the eyes of party-people. Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Greens -- even the party proposing MPs meditate and levitate, even twice for the Marxist-Leninists.

Protest votes. And each vote has been accompanied by an increasingly strong sense of futility. No matter who I vote for, and, really, no matter who is elected, we get the same government.

Details differ, certain programs are cut or added; Harper slashes environmental protections, and Trudeau ships trainloads of banknotes to the corporate sector, promising this will help the poor, FirstNations, and racial minorities. There's a flip side -- most also passed some good bills, measures, protections and stimulants. That's democracy in action, but democracy of a certain type.

A certain type? Don't all North Americans see but one form of democracy? Ours is one in which the Vote symbolizes everything. All we have to do is vote. We can pay attention to the debates and wrangling (with big issues under-reported by democracy's fourth estate, the media.) Every four years we vote, usually without a thought to what we voted for the last time, and what we actually got for that vote. Just vote! That's democracy.

The Trouble with democracy is money, our completely unresolved trouble.

In a word, "money" means that the mass sources of information are privately owed by very large corporations which are intimately tied to other corporations and industrial groups.

They moderate the flow of news, and there is no real competition (and no strict collusion either) among them -- they're invested in these conglomerations, with their own agendas and political needs. But we do have a free vote. You and I can vote for whomever has met the criteria to run for office.

But the issues? Issues in each election are disseminated by our two or three gigantic media conglomerates.

Yes, we have "social media" with cute names like Faceplant and Tik-Slop but they seem merely to iterate what the corporates dish out, plus the "rebels" advocating their private battles.

Let's be clear: Postmedia or CBC do not instruct us to vote for any particular party, but they certainly layer on the frosting that the only votes that count are those for the two big parties. The two parties, we know, that front in myriad ways the same corporate sector.

Some readers, if they're still reading, will object that I'm denigrating the intelligence and interests of ordinary folks. Not exactly! -- even Einstein's vote would be channeled by the narrow avenues of mass information or flooded into confusion by layers of bloggeurs.

I suppose this is a criticism of our education, not a criticism of its graduates (us ordinary folks). Perhaps the important criticism is that we don't explore news sources well enough, but that's a big job, wading through the flood of self-interested announcements of so many sites, especially the unaccountable and un-audited (audits of prejudicial reporting) social media sites.

Consider, if you will, how rarely the "opposing" political parties (in Canada and the USA) actually disagree on substantive (key word) issues and policies. There's a lot to unpack, but in terms of, say, China-bashing, do we hear much debate? There are many examples, and yes every public news source includes the occasional dissent-piece, but that's a fixture, part of the furniture of the news room.

So, should we just throw up our hands and do gardening? No, but, first, let's stop chattering about genuine democratic governments, acting in our best interests.

And we could dig up news sources, ones that fact-check, take no corporate support, pay journalists to dig, run in-depth articles -- not emotion-filled "stories" -- and so on.

There are sources from other countries -- and uncompromised news sources here in Canada -- if we subscribe or dig around in the mud-pit of the internet. It's time-consuming, democracy, but it's not hard.

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Copyright © 2020 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles 4.15.21