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The "Democracy" Issue

Decision: 
Summary: 

This issue would discuss the failures of western-style electoral politics in creating real, participatory democracy. Although there may be room to include a historical and international analysis, the federal, provincial and municipal systems in Canada would serve as the primary case study.

Sample headlines:

*The politics of guilt* on strategic voting
*First past the post* on voting reform
*Appointing Privilege* on relationship between judiciary and executive
*Multiple Choice* on oligarchical party politics
*Coalition of the Unwilling* on parliamentary majorities, minorites and lack of accountability of cabinet during term
*The Illusion of Representative Democracy* on once every 4 years
*Manufacturing Discontent* on lack of citizen oversight of legislators, lack of referenda and other issues leading to poor turnout
*The Hill isn't the only thing you have to climb* on enfranchisment barriers such as voter eligibility and powerful lobby blocks

How this special issue would fill a media gap:

Serious journalistic discussion of democratic participation tends to be an either/or phenomenon. Either it accepts the system of electoral politics that we have now as a basis for discussion of involvement, or it focuses on grassroots mobilizations and specific campaigns that exist outside of it. This issue could examine the potential intersection of these two via an in-depth analysis of the fundamental failure of our system to actually engage citizenry in decision-making, thus facilitating a huge disappointment with and mass exodus from this kind of politics.

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Comments

Democracy and Education Quote

2

"A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience... ...Obviously a society to which stratification into separate classes would be fatal, must see to it that intellectual opportunities are accessible to all on equable and easy terms. A society marked off into classes need be specially attentive only to the education of its ruling elements. A society which is mobile, which is full of channels for the distribution of a change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability. Otherwise, they will be overwhelmed by the changes in which they are caught and whose significance or connections they do not perceive. The result will be a confusion in which a few will appropriate to themselves the results of the blind and externally directed activities of others."

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Democracy_and_Education

The quote is from section 7.

focus

5

My primary motivation in proposing this issue was to engage a broader audience than (I feel) has been/would be reached with issues on the G20, Olympics, mining, migrant justice, climate, etc. These are all important topics; they also typically receive a large amount of coverage from the Dominion and the Media Coop and engage an audience that tends to be already aware of, concerned with and/or working on social justice issues. Talking about electoral politics could be a very good way to expand our readership and our coverage, and provide an alternative in-depth analysis to the usual suspects (i.e. the mainstream media) who devote a lot of time to this topic.

Today's conservative action

Today's conservative action in the Senate to kill the climate change passed by the House of Parliament perfectly illustrates how the bankruptcy of our 'democracy' deeply defines the kinds of issues we're covering (such as climate justice), and the serious need for some truth telling coverage.

New Brunswicker's For Proportional Representation

4

We are a group dedicated to the issue of electoral reform in NB Canada.  We are looking for contributors to our discussion and debate on how to best bring about electoral reform in NB. Please check out our site.

 

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=145013658875906

In Stephen Brooks'  widely

In Stephen Brooks'  widely used first year textbook entitled "Canadian Politics, an Infroduction", he writes:

"These elections - the rules and procedures by which governments are formed -  are part of the state system. And like the rest of the state, they are much less likely to generate political controversy and to undego change than are the government and its policies."  (Brooks, 10)

Unless someone is willing to get people to ask some real fundamental questions about the nature of the system itself, the kinds of policies that get the spotlight will continue to be straight-jacketed by the institutions in place.

It seems to me that the The Dominion is just the forum that ought to be whipping up some controversy about this!!

The "Democracy" Issue

5

It is my belief that an in depth examination of Democracy as it is practiced in our society is the most important issue that the Dominion could ever tackle. The failure of society’s ability to deal with the problems we face at the outset of the 21st century stems from the fact that the vested interests of an elite few have been allowed to thwart the will of the population at large.

This elite oligarchy has successfully duped the public into believing that they live in a Democratic society that is responsive to their will while in fact we have absolutely no control over the policies that are being imposed on society. Without conscious understanding of this fact, the public as a whole have come to the intuitive conclusion that the system has failed and there is nothing that can be done on a personal level to alleviate this. Therein lies the root cause of ever decreasing voter turnout in elections where we have come to recognize the whole process as a sham that we refuse to participate in.

Our acceptance of the First Past the Post system of declaring victory to electoral candidates who receive only a minor share of the popular vote is probably the most crucial factor in allowing the oligarchy to remain in power regardless of public will. Unless electoral reform is enacted to ensure successful election of candidates who have the support of the majority of the population, voter turnout will continue to decline while the power of the oligarchy continues to increase.

Candidate selection prior to elections is designed to guarantee a slate of contenders who are all under the control of the hidden oligarchy which is able to treat elected officials as simple employees who must submit to their will while enacting legislation that will reinforce the authority of this elite group. As long as it costs in excess of One Hundred Million Dollars just to run an election campaign for the Presidency of the United States and over Ten Million Dollars to run a similar campaign to become Prime Minister of Canada, we can be assured that only candidates who are financially in the pockets of these powerful people will be in the race.

In Canada, under the First Past the Post system, the only viable winners are the two most powerful political parties on the slate, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The other parties who run candidates are relegated to a competition to decide which of them will form a minor part of the official opposition to work with the leading opposition party which will always be the second place winner in the election. Since either the Liberals or the Conservatives will win the election and the one who does not win will form the official opposition we are faced with the fact that both the ruling party and the party of the official opposition are both on the payroll of the oligarchy and any legislation which threatens their power will never be enacted. That is the reason that today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is able to rule our country like a tin pot dictator with a third of popular support.  The Liberal Party which in theory has both the power and the mandate to thwart Harper’s agenda will do nothing of the kind since it is also controlled by the powerful people behind the scenes who contribute, (in most cases secretly and illegally) to the cost of their campaign while even with the combined votes they received in the election they account for less than 65% of voter support in the Canadian federal election, 2008

democracy

i think this would be a great issue but if we are going to speak about democracy we should include the notion that democracy is an ideal far more than it is a set of institutions that  political professional or passive/disciplined citizens sometimes conditionally participate in.  Included in any democratic ideal is the expanded opportunities for discussion like those that occur in and around The Dominion.  Obviously the issue shouldn't be overly self-congratulatory as I would also like to see it include examples of resistance movements that are far more significant to a healthy democracy that any voting booth ever could be.  Anyway, I'd love to see the issue but I think it could expand well beyond the confines that are currently set out.

*Corporate media and public opinion manipulation*

5

I'd like to add this as a possible topic in this issue, although this could warrant a whole Dominion edition itself.

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