I can't quite get past this idea of 88.
When I read that a survey of Canadian voters found that 88 per cent had lost faith in their government, Parliament, to serve the public interest I was floored.
...Canadians don't seem to believe that the political parties vying for their votes in October have their best interests at heart — and those who are worried about the future report greater disillusionment with politics.
Fully 88 per cent of those polled said they feel that politicians care more about staying in power than doing what's right, while 47 per cent said that no party represents what they care about most.I knew that this fracture between the public and their political caste was near inevitable. I just thought it would take longer to manifest. I had thought it would take some seismic event to trigger this breakdown. It didn't. What is going to happen then if/when we are hit with great change not of our making or wish?
If the relationship between the pols and the plebs is so strained, what does this portend for the simultaneous weakening of social cohesion. Canada isn't alone in this social division business. We trail well behind many other countries - Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Italy and, of course, the United States. America, some claim, hasn't been so divided since the Civil War.
Governments, labouring under the burden of neoliberalism, seem incapable of uniting their people. We come to distrust each other. We stop listening to each other. What began as indifference grows darker.
As Canada has shifted right we have become less tolerant, more suspicious of each other. The conservatives have gone well beyond the bounds of conservatism. The Liberals are the modern conservative party. The NDP has ceased to be a political force since it abandoned the left in a desperate but failed bid for power.
88 per cent and that news came and went almost without notice. When 88 per cent are disaffected, no longer willing to trust their elected representatives to do the right thing, to put country ahead of their personal partisan interests. When 88 per cent think the pols are just in it for themselves, government, the state loses legitimacy. Then again, when more than three out of five voters are rendered irrelevant by our undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system, what emerges, the false majority government with an equally hollow mandate, is not to be trusted. Those three out of five have not prevailed but they have surely spoken and there can be no "informed consent" of the people to be governed by the winning party. They haven't consented to be governed. They haven't affirmed the victor's mandate, those solemn promises that last barely longer than the bunting. They become a people ruled, not a people governed. Perhaps the question should be rephrased - how could 88 per cent not lose trust in their government on both sides of the aisle?
Trudeau promised electoral reform, a new system of governance in which all voices might be heard. I don't believe for a second that, once elected with a majority, he had any intention of honouring that promise, the one that garnered enough votes to deliver the Liberal victory.
88 per cent. That didn't come out of nowhere. It was created. Something of a gradual process that spanned a number of inadequate, dishonest and undemocratic governments.
88 per cent. The state is ailing. We have seen how this very disaffection has been exploited by rightwing populists elsewhere to displace liberal democracy with authoritarian rule. We're not there yet but are we that far off?