Author Topic: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box  (Read 9288 times)

Caissa

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2008, 10:36:13 AM »
Voting should be a civic responsibility. I think Australia has it correctly pegged.

kuri

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2008, 10:41:25 AM »
You are still permitted to spoil a ballot and decline a ballot in Australia, IIRC, right? The only coercion is to present oneself at the polling place, I think. That doesn't seem totally unreasonable.

skdadl

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2008, 11:02:03 AM »
The notion of "civic duty" (on this score, anyway) is more characteristic of militaristic societies -- the U.S. qualifies, as Israel does, as Switzerland does. The notion that a citizen is required "to present" herself at a polling place just sends chills up my spine, and that's even before we get to all the barriers many people would face trying to do that. If you then starting making rules about who may have an absentee ballot and how they qualify, you are heading deeper and deeper into the territory of examining everyone's personal life, which should be anathema to any democrat.

And all that just for the most superficial and short-term notion of democracy and what it means to be a citizen.

I think we should take our elections as seriously as we can for now, and then go about doing the more serious work, however we can.

Debra

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2008, 11:10:53 AM »
I think political science in some form or other should be taught from kindergarten. I have seen many teachers try to do this by showing students how they can affect change through letter writing, and other campaigns to inform and sway politicians and business owners alike.

I don't agree with forced voting. We already have enough people voting on information from biased sources ,sound bites, like or dislike of facial hair, or how Grampa Joe voted lo those many years ago.

I see voting as a responsibility but one that must be freely taken.
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.” —  Josephine Hart

Caissa

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2008, 12:12:01 PM »
So do citizens only have rights and not any responsibilities, Skdadl? How would we base a social contract on something like that?

Catchfire

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2008, 12:13:26 PM »
Quote from: kuri
You are still permitted to spoil a ballot and decline a ballot in Australia, IIRC, right? The only coercion is to present oneself at the polling place, I think. That doesn't seem totally unreasonable.
Spoiling a ballot does not mean the same thing as not showing up to vote. Aside from skdadl's excellent and cautionary points, mandatory voting employs the philosophy that we can get people to do what we want if we brandish a bigger stick. When only 58% of eligible voters (and we should add that this statistic only includes registered voters. In reality, the number of non-voters is even higher) believe our democracy is worth participating in, you can't just force them to care. Abstention communicates malaise, while ballot-spoiling can communicate indecision, anger, frustration, etc. In a democracy, it is malaise that is the most threatening, because if people don't care that they live in a democracy, that democracy ceases to exist. With mandatory voting, we won't even know when the ice melts beneath our feet.

I also believe that the comparative 42% of Australians who vote because of state order rather than their own volition regard their democratic right more as a civic chore than a civic duty. Just because they are forced to vote doesn't mean they suddenly obtain a whole lot of esteem for the business.

Toedancer

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2008, 12:16:29 PM »
Well actually I am not just complaining how the complicit media is addressing what is called voter apathy, which I say is bullshit, but more about the fact our political parties are contemptuous of the public good and their first loyalty being to the corporate good. In that I am glad we keep sending minorities in, until they get the message the public good is being crushed into the ground. And we can at least slow down the devolution of the country.  

We need a democratization of the economy so it is not just ruling class controlled and the evolution of a new political democracy, or soon we will see the so-called apathy only increase. The distrust amongst the disenfranchised will only increase. The government won't call on those people to participate, so who will? The gov't much prefers 'mind your own business'. And as skdadl says, I guess it's left to the already active to convince the disenfranchised, I wonder if the gov would fund that? It's always said real democracy is a messy but creative process. With funding I would rather make that my social responsibility, because coercing an individual who has opted out for their good reasons, is anti-democratic.

hee we cross-posted.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

sparqui

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2008, 01:47:08 PM »
I also fall among those here who have a great distaste for mandatory voting.

I think education is an important factor. By and large, people do take their right to vote for granted. Many have no idea of how our system works. I think that's part of the reason that provincial attempts to offer proportional representation have failed. How can you fully appreciate proposed change if you don't fully understand the system you're replacing.

I also think that the parties themselves share some of the responsibility. We were ambushed by a US-style election campaign by Harper. He framed it about leadership, as if Canadians were voting for a President.  I think Canadians who vote take into consideration the leader and party brand but they also respond on a local, constituent level. I felt that in my riding, little was done by most parties to engage me in this campaign and it pissed me off. But that aside, there are many voters out there that are rarely approached by candidates and feel alienated from the political process. There needs to be more on the ground outreach by all the political parties throughout the year, not just during the election if even that.

As for those voters who figure life is good with the current government and the polls are telling me that there will be no change so why bother to vote, let them stay home. :mrgreen: (Some of that 40% includes voters who might have handed Harper a majority.)
If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor. -- Gilles Duceppe

skdadl

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2008, 02:00:46 PM »
Quote from: Caissa
So do citizens only have rights and not any responsibilities, Skdadl? How would we base a social contract on something like that?

Well, I said "on this score," remembering that there are times when we have undeniable civic duties that can be majorly painful.

We all know, eg, that being called as a witness in a criminal case is an awful experience for everyone, no matter how innocent. It just is. It's very hard for a layperson to be prepared for what the contesting lawyers will do to her on the stand, even if she's simply telling the truth. P.D. James has written that everyone involved in a criminal case ends up feeling guilty somehow, and that is a hard truth, but anyone who has been a witness (in any sense) to a crime still has the responsibility to testify in public, risk having her privacy violated in all kinds of ways, because the system can't work any other way.

And of course we have other responsibilities, like paying our taxes so that society can continue to function and because we all use the things that our taxes pay for.

But the default position in a democracy is liberty, especially liberty of conscience. There has to be an urgent cause for constraining anyone's liberty, and that cause would have to be one of the other basic pillars of democracy, like impartial justice.

Berlynn

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2008, 02:16:08 PM »
I'm not into forcing anyone to do anything (not even my 15 y.o. who refuses to clean his room and I should probably rethink that!).

I am so with Debra on teaching kids from kindergarten onward about the democratic process, about what living in a democracy really means, in very concrete terms.  My kids were lucky and landed some great teachers who took the job of educating students to be citizens quite seriously.

But there's another problem.  Many teachers are desperately uneducated in issues surrounding civil society's participation in a democracy.  Many teachers run their classrooms in horribly undemocratic ways.  Just a couple of years ago, I witnessed a teacher very loudly berating and demeaning an 8 y.o. in the hallway of in our local elementary school.  I was stunned!  And I reported it to the principal and the mother of the child.  The teacher is still there; the child is not.

It appalls me that one can obtain a 4-year undergraduate degree in elementary Education having taken only a half-class in Social Studies methodology (which is where civics fits into the SK curriculum).  That's shameful, I think.

Of course, good teachers seem to innately know how to create inclusive and democratic classrooms, to take civics into all subject areas and move it outside the classroom, too.  Those are the great ones.
Never retreat, never explain, never apologize--get the thing done and let them howl.  -- Nellie McClung

Alison

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2008, 02:11:45 AM »
Toe, just wanted to say how much I liked your rant at the top of this thread even if I disagreed with you on some points in it.

Alison

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #26 on: October 20, 2008, 01:36:58 PM »
Dumbass editorial in The Star : PR : Still a bad idea

Apparently the idea that the Christian Heritage Party might get 1 or 2 seats out of 300 is sufficient to deny a meaningful vote to the rest of us.
Hitler has, of course, already been mentioned in the comments...

brebis noire

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #27 on: October 20, 2008, 01:40:30 PM »
Well, that would put the Xtian heritage front right up there with the adherents of André Arthurism.  :mrgreen: I think he represents the constituency of talk radio-nuttery.

Catchfire

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #28 on: October 20, 2008, 02:06:09 PM »
Not to mention that the Xian Heritage Party would need to top the likely threshold of 5% before they were granted seats, as is the custom in the vast majority of PR systems. They would never, ever achieve that under their current platform.

Can we please have a decent newspaper in Canada with a decent editorial board? I'm asking nice.

skdadl

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Re: Democracy Doesn't Fit Into the Ballot Box
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2008, 02:06:38 PM »
Dion is resigning right now, calling for a leadership convention. He is remaining as interim leader, however.

 

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