Tag Archives: democracy

The end of an era awaits you

Wow Alberta. The last 4 weeks have been exhausting.

I am sure right now the PC party is questioning the wisdom of this early election call. It certainly didn’t stay on script.

Alberta has had enough script, it is high time we cut loose and say what we really want. We seem to be on the verge of doing that.

I have some theories on why Prentice thought an early election was good logic, and he had good reason … reason that we have given him, Alberta. It’s our fear of change, our apathy, and our inability to imagine ourselves other than how we are today.

After so many years of PC rule the PCs certainly must feel entitled to governing. They have reason to see themselves as the only available option. They have not seen any real challenge to their authority, and certainly no challenge that they cannot stamp out like a little flame underfoot.

So the first piece of Prentice logic was based in past experience. The PCs have never been burned, and have never stopped to imagine it could happen.

In the past when  times have looked tough the PCs have simply changed costume and come back out on stage as if they had a whole new act. Alberta always noticed the new props and never noticed the old songs.

You have all undoubtedly noticed that I have some significant left leaning values. I do not hide that. I ascribe them to compassion for my fellow man.

However, the primary reason for my excitement about the unforeseen strength of the left in this election isn’t driven by ideology. It is driven by realty. The health of any democracy depends on change. Without change the political process increasingly resembles a popularity poll for Stalin. Voting has to matter. It can’t become a chore, the results cannot be a foregone conclusion.

I don’t know how the vote will go tomorrow but I hope we choose to change, because change is good. The worst reason there is to continue doing something is that it is the way we’ve done it in the past. The worst reason to avoid trying new things is that you are not guaranteed success. Everything you have that is worth while came from someone taking a risk. We have more to gain than to lose.

You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is. ~ Will Rogers

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~ T. S. Eliot

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. ~ Mark Zuckerberg

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision. ~ Maimonides

It seems to be a law of nature, inflexible and inexorable, that those who will not risk cannot win. ~ John Paul Jones

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ~ George Bernard Shaw

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. ~ Winston Churchill

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. ~ Robert Kennedy

 

 

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Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Social Edition

I am going to keep saying this until it sinks in; Yes, government has a role in legislating morality.

We need to elect progressive, liberal minded representatives that understand why philosophical-esque ideologies clash over individual and plural rights in our communities. Look:

  • liberalism = commitment to balancing individual freedom and social justice.
  • conservatism = commitment to traditional values, the goals and ideologies of which vary.

The definition of social conservatism includes the caveat that traditional values vary between groups. In any society there are potentially multiple traditions, and potentially values may not align.

I hope you can hear me over the wailing right-wing nuts when I say this. Do try…

If we’re all going to live together, we need balance. Maintaining balance between personal and secular values isn’t a zero sum game.* Sharing a human right doesn’t eliminate it; or halve it, or quarter it, or reduce it by any fraction. Removing a tradition from the public realm doesn’t necessarily remove it from the personal realm. In fact a zero sum only happens when progressive liberalism governance is NOT present.

Herein lies the peril inherent in democracy. Votes are equal individually, but not collectively. The risk that a majority can run roughshod over a minority exists because there is considerable pressure for government to conform to majority held views.

But the role is government is not to pander to the majority, it is to rise above and serve the whole.

In a progressive liberal democracy we avoid the trampling minority rights by implementing reforms that protect the right to have personally different values. A progressive government implements reform where there is contradiction between current traditionally informed and non-traditional choices. Progressive governance mitigates inequality founded upon tradition.

The catalyst for this Personal Pedantic Political Peroration is the Bill 10 fiasco in Alberta. Bill 10 panders to the worst pockets of social conservatism in our society. I expect my government to enact legislation that makes it unlawful for any group to use tradition to deny rights to the others. I’m not alone either. Alberta is full of progressive liberal minded people.

I don’t care what any religious tradition says about homosexuality. I am not bound by other traditions. Everyone is free to be offended by LGBT people in any old heteronormative tradition bound way. However, finding something personally offensive does not give anyone the right to censure it. We are all free to disregard any tradition, or the word free doesn’t apply at all.

The right to challenge tradition has been asserted before, and it will be asserted again:

Well, Alberta, now there is so much racket that something must be out of rightness.

I think that between the social progressives in the cities and the reality of what constitutes a human right, the traditional bigots will be in a fix pretty soon. Let’s be honest about what we all are talking about.

The zealots over there say that LGBT students don’t need to be helped to feel safe, or given a place to share, and that they have anti-bullying protection already. Don’t ask don’t tell will help them, doctrine over compassion, because that’s what scripture says.

Was Delwin Vriend protected? Was he? Now look at his students. Tradition clearly allows them to be marginalized, or be punished for who they are, here in this system. Isn’t that bullying? You should look at the statistics and look at these children – maybe you’ll get it – LGBT students suffer your bigotry. Do they deserve it?  They all bear higher risk of suicide, and GSAs mitigate that risk, and aren’t their lives important – doesn’t god love even sinners? Aren’t you a sinner? I hear you all talk about this scripture or that – why use them to justify contempt? What’s that got to do with a moral life?

If you have the right to choose your religion, and you are choosing it freely, doesn’t that give us all the right to choose for ourselves which path to follow? All the small minded keep saying it was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve; how does your wife feel about Abram and Hagar? Which scriptures do you follow? Which ones are discarded? Use logic and reason for human rights. Your religion has nothing to do with it.

If we have already as a society made a clear distinction between church and state, and we have already agreed to allow our neighbours freedom of conscience, you few right-wing nuts rallying behind your irrational traditions shouldn’t be able to hold the rest of us back from moving human rights forward!

The progressives are speaking, and the government better start listening.**

 

* FUN FACT: Zero Sum one of my favourite pedantological terms, I slip it into every conversation I can.

** With all due respect for the great Sojourner Truth; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Fiscal Edition

Politics in Alberta. *sigh*

Before I launch into “Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Fiscal Edition” let’s get some definitions out of the way. We pedants love definitions.

  • [1] Conservatism = preference for the existing order and opposition to efforts to effect change.
  • [2] Fiscal conservatism = avoidance of deficit spending, reduction of government spending and debt, and commitment to balanced budgets.
  • [3] Democracy = government by all eligible members of a population through elected representatives.

The other day on twitter I asserted that the majority of Albertans who claim to be fiscal conservative are in fact not Conservatives[1]. I got a bit of push back on my assertion, and while I admit my opinion is based on personal observation and gathered anecdotal evidence, I stand by it.

There is no doubt that Albertans are resistant to change, I don’t know how else our current 43 year single party run can be explained. However, why this is the case is not certain. My theory is that it is because somehow a significant percentage of the electorate is convinced that ‘conservative’ and ‘responsible’ are synonyms[2].

Oh, Alberta. They aren’t synonymous – as proven by the woeful fiscal record of our 43 year Conservative dynasty. Alberta, do we need a remedial lesson in what is and what isn’t a synonym?

I understand, Alberta. We all want fiscal responsibility with reasonable avoidance of debt and deficit spending. That is the definition of responsible and can be achieved from any ideological location on the political spectrum; conservative or liberal or centrist or progressive… whatever name you want to give an alternative political placement.

The Conservative ideologues’ claims that they are sole party of fiscal responsibility seem to rely completely on the specific part of conservative ideology advocating reduction of government spending and low taxes, and this is what I think most Albertans are not actually in favour of.

Complaining about government spending is a sure fire way to gain fiscal street cred on gravel roads and secondary highways here in Alberta. But what does that mean really? Spending is not wasteful necessarily. Right? It depends entirely on what you get in return for your expenditure.

Yet our message to government is usually that they should spend less but (there is always a but) also provide the level of services we demand.

Between you and me, Alberta, I think what we mean is that government should spend; and tax; responsibly to provide the level of services we expect.

Alberta, listen, I say this with the best intentions, get your shit together. Stop voting Conservative because it’s just the way we do things around here and then lamenting their dismal performance on the fiscal issues we actually care about. Don’t vote conservatively. Vote responsibly.

Alberta, I have a dream.  I dream that even as we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow this province will rise up and elect a government true to the meaning of fiscal responsibility. I have a dream that my three boys will one day live in a province where they will not be haunted by the fiscal misdeeds of a former government, but live the Alberta advantage delivered by a government responsive to the needs of all Albertans. I have a dream that one day, here in Alberta with its vast resources and human ingenuity, with our Premier’s lips mouthing the words ‘this is not budgeting as usual’ that Albertans will join forces[3] and with their ballots declare ‘this is no longer government as usual’ but government for the better and for the future, governing so we will all see my dream together. This is my hope, and this is the dream that I will go to the polling station with. *

Dream with me, Alberta.

(* with the utmost respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I borrow out of admiration for the master)

 

Next up on Planned Pedanthood … ‘Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Social Edition’