“Democracies are fragile systems based on interdependence.”
Published August 6, 2018
The North Shore of British Columbia is approaching another four-year election cycle in October 2018. But in 2014, out of a total population of some 265,000 residents, only a paltry 32,000 out of 155,494 actual registered voters bothered to cast a vote for who would guide the future of Canadian society along its shores; thereby calling into question not only the underlying premise of interdependence between the people and their rulers upon which Democracy is said to be based but the idealism of a way of life that supposedly lies at its heart. It’s the soil, if left unattended, within which the young tendrils of fascism eventually are able to take root.
British Columbia is among the lowest in voter turnout in Canada. Election experts say that when voter rates dip into the low 20%’s it becomes a democratically dangerous situation; with governments run by strangers for strangers easily turning into autocracies, benevolent dictatorships or something worse. The problem with Canada, British Columbia and the North Shore is that they’ve never chosen any kind of compulsory voting system, nor have they yet put into place even a proportional representation system. The autocratic, dictatorial mentality doesn’t like such systems because it’s harder to keep the people duped and subdued. In this sense, the deteriorating political conditions on the North Shore of Canada are not unlike what is happening throughout the world in a major 21st century shift from democratic to autocratic politics and elections; especially regarding the sovereignty struggles of indigenous peoples.
Yet when so few registered voters bother to vote – as in 2014’s North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District and West Vancouver District’s elections – it raises again the same age-old unanswered universal question. Should the results in such cases be declared null and void and a re-election held until some mutually agreed upon appropriate minimum percentage of voters, considered to be truly representative of the will of the people, finally decides to exercise their democratic responsibility and civic duty to actually vote? Otherwise, in the final end, what differentiates a Banana Republic from a genuine Democratic Republic?
Such abysmally low voter turnout figures raise still other questions as to whether the North Shore’s citizenry, perhaps increasingly like Canadians and citizenry everywhere in the world, have cynically adopted more of a Why Bother attitude towards voting because they don’t feel the government is a truly democratic one that represents their views or fails to genuinely listen to or respond to their real needs and wants because politics is too often more about corrupt, dominating power relations than supportive inter-personal relationships. Or maybe it’s because for far too long a time in the past the older generation passively deferred to authority; while the younger generation, given their greater interest in the outdoors in the summer and wintertime, are more interested in sports and pop culture than civics. Perhaps the reason many don’t vote is because they take for granted that what is happening in places like the North Shore, with the push towards the amalgamation of governments, is just the latest in a long line of political snow jobs that instead of ever creating more effective responsive government run by the people only leads to even more corruption, domination, development schemes, population explosion, grid lock traffic and other sundry issues that make people’s lives progressively less rather than more democratic. Another factor is that the North Shore, like most everywhere else in the world, is constantly becoming peopled by more and more immigrants who come from countries remotely lacking in any strong tradition of democracy or the responsibilities of participation in the free vote. So, when taken all together, these factors don’t bode well for the future existence of a strong democratic tradition on the North Shore or anywhere else.
Whatever the reasons, too many among the citizenry who don’t vote in essence are saying, “I really don’t give a damn! I’ll accept whatever candidate wins, however radical, fanatical capitalistic, hardliner or wishy-washy they may be!” They seemingly instead prefer to pursue whatever more personal, self-interests in life to the detriment of Canadian society.
A recent political survey in the United States released by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, showed a shift to the left of political attitudes of all generations becoming more progressive (“The Generational Gap in American Politics”, 3/1/2018). If true, however doubtly, would a similar survey taken of the generational gap in Canadian politics also show such a shift among the generations that will translate in the future into more progressive candidates being seated in its federal, provincial and municipal elections?