Canadian Taxpayer Federation, Democratic void left by elected officials, Parliamentarians as interchangeable bobbleheads, Political but not partisan, Politicians not leaders but followers?, Politics as entertainment, Politics as sport, Politics as theatre, Politics more amusement than pain?, The beleaguered taxpayers, The need for citizen advocacy groups?
Welcome to an unneeded, untimely, and unsafe fourth-wave Covid election. We must now endure the most annoying live theatre of the absurd as politicians litter the airwaves and landscapes with lawn signs and platitudes till the September 20th Canadian Federal Election.
I suppose it takes a Newfoundlander like Rex Murphy to give the rest of Canada a perspective on politics. We can learn a lot from these late-comers to the Confederation. Edward Roberts, long time Newfoundland politician observed:
“Politics in Newfoundland came to be a national sport, perhaps the national sport. Newfoundland’s small population and tribal community culture gave many a personal interest in both the contest and the outcome. Everybody knew the players in the game; both those in the arena and those watching from the sidelines spoke passionately, often to the point of unreasonableness.”
Rex Murphy dissents slightly to Roberts’ description of politics as a sport when he writes:
“A sport involves pure skills. Newfoundland politics is more an entertainment. I have long believed that Newfoundlanders endure what passes as electoral politics only because it offers them more amusement than pain.
Politics back home is more theatre than reality, and the spectators are wiser, more alert than the actors. Newfoundlanders have been schooled by experience not to expect too much — some expect nothing at all — from their politics and politicians; so instead they choose to draw from the political struggle a collateral benefit — they watch it as a story, to draw from it amusement, spectacle or raw material for skits and mockery.”
Failure of Democracy: Advocate Groups
Amusement or pain, we seem to accept the mockery of democracy as par for the course. What are we expecting? Representation?! According to John Ivison,
Parliamentarians are often derided as trained seals – interchangeable bobbleheads who always vote at their party’s call and never think for themselves at all.
And let’s be honest: we are so used to not being heard or represented that we actually need other groups to advocate for the electorate. But… isn’t this what our elected officials are SUPPOSED to do?!? One such group that intends to advocate in the democratic void left by elected officials is the Canadian Taxpayer Federation (CTF) who exist as:
A citizens advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.
Though I am suspicious of all things partisan, I like that the CTF addresses waste and accountability. I imagine that even my elected official, if not so partisan, would like it too, that is, if they were not the object of scrutiny. However a recent email disturbed me as much as it gave me a flutter of imagined empowerment (sic):
“[Politicians] aren’t leaders, but rather followers. They follow the lead from the media, from the pundits, from the lobbyists, but they need to be getting directions from the people paying for the parade: TAXPAYERS.
For many years we watched our politicians operate without a lot of oversight. Sure, they’d occasionally get an earful at a summer BBQ or have to respond to a few angry letters. But taxpayers were not organized to coordinate their efforts.
That’s where the Canadian Taxpayers Federation came in. We gave a voice to the beleaguered taxpayers who had been taken for granted for too long. We organized taxpayers so that our efforts were coordinated, strategic and timely.”
Advocacy upon Advocacy
You can almost hear the clomping of hooves from their steeds as the CTF imagine themselves to trample in to save the day – but don’t you think it is odd that “the taxpayers are not organized to coordinate their efforts”? Again, isn’t this what our elected officials are supposed to do?
Will we need advocates to advocate for us against or alongside these advocates? It is exhausting especially when today’s democracy (sic) has been compromised with the well organized (and highly paid) advocacy of big business and special interest groups that now dominate the political landscape by gaining a hearing of politicians when the ultimate voice our elected officials should hear and should go out of their way to listen to – is their constituents!
Wouldn’t it be a shock if elected official actually represented their constituents to their political party – rather than represent their political party and party platforms to their constituents?!
In the mean time, we join with our Newfoundland cousins who have been schooled by experience not to expect too much, and watch on to draw from it amusement, spectacle or raw material for skits and mockery.