Essential Knowledge Needed to Grow a Democracy part 5
Is Your Representatives an Elitist or a Democrat?
Of all of the encumbrances to Canadian democracy this has got to be the most problematic. There are quite a few roadblocks to Canadians enjoying real democracy, all being systematic or philosophical problems. Elitism is one of those problems which is the the norm amid the people we elect to represent us.
An Elitist is someone that thinks that he/she is smarter, or better than everyone else. It is bad enough that there are Elitist in the world, but there is a jeopardy in the case of the people we are voting for. We give our elected representatives substantial powers to represent our common interests, and our democracy. This will be the person that will make the decisions for the constituencies, with or without consulting those they are supposed to represent you . In my years in grassroots politics, I can’t tell you how many times I have been involved in a fight to stop a dump, or get a referendum on the building of city hall, or to help stop Free Trade, and my so-called representative would say “I was elected to make decisions for my constituents”. It doesn’t matter how it comes out, a former politician from Kitchener once told me that “by the British Parliamentary System, I was elected to make the decisions for the voters”. While that is true in principle, in true representation there needs to be consultation with those you represent. A MPP told me that only she was equipped “make the hard decisions” for her constituents, because “I am the only one that knew all the information”. When talking to her I was angry enough to challenge her on the point “and whose fault is that, to be a true representative of the people, are you not supposed to tell the people what is going on, so they can decide what should be done with any given issue”. She was angry at that point and she ended the conversation; not that it matters much, and when they do talk to their constituents they often lie, or the information is so misrepresented that it doesn’t inform.
This is why it is vital to know who you are electing. By electing an elitist you are causing your Constituency a lack of Democracy, and with it a whole lot of trouble for those that are politically active.
Don’t stuck on the thought of the American Party when I speak of a Democrat.This is the definition from Webster Dictionary: The definition of a democrat is a member of the Democratic political party or someone who believes in equality for all people and ruling by the majority. So forget the member of the Am. political party; “someone who believes in the equality of all people and ruling of the majority”. Oxford dictionary says that a democrat is “an advocate or supporter of democracy.”
This is not a new debate. The American Founding Fathers, when framing a new form of government and Governance debated the issue of whether or not the public could be trusted with decision-making. The debate was over the issue of whether the People should be given the powers of Initiative, Referendum and Recall at the Federal level, as the People had at the State level, in many American States. My political hero Jefferson said:
I have so much confidence in the good sense of man, and his qualifications for self-government, that I am never afraid of the issue where reason is left free to exert her force.— , Letter to Comte Diodati, 1789.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never— , Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (6 January 1816)
So, Jefferson argued to give the People the powers of Direct Democracy, while the majority of the Founding Fathers were obviously Elitists, and Jefferson, Adams and others motion was voted down, thus there is no Referenda or Recall at the nation level (too bad).
In Canada, today, we suffer under the opposite assumption, that the people are not smart enough to make good decisions. Canada comes from the tradition of British Parliamentary Democracy and the model style was seen from the very beginning, from the days of the Magna Carta. The lower royalty and the merchants of London ganged up on King John telling him that they needed a king, but not so much of one. And they insisted on putting some controls on him. The patern was set that power was held from above and any power that those from below would get would have to be clawed from them. The Parliament would go on to think of themselves as smarter than the peasants they ruled, an as such they would make the decisions for the people. The better option, for the people, would be to educate and elevate the people, and then give them decision-making. But, of course the objective of the Parliamentarians, the lower royalty, the rich businessmen, and the clergy was to control the masses, for their own particular gain.
Democrats believe that the People themselves are smart enough to make good decisions when given correct and complete information. As evidence, I note that the majority of citizens do have jobs, personal economies, and the majority of these conduct their own affairs successfully. And this is at the disadvantage of taxes, banks, insurance companies etc. etc. etc. milking them for all the money they can get from the People.
Democrats believe in consulting with those that they serve. If you want to see who a Democrat is, they are the members of legislatures, or Parliament, that are always in trouble with their parties because they will not vote along the party line, if the party in not in step with what their constituents believe. These are the representatives we would vote for time after time because the people of those constituencies know that that person represents them. If you think of it in this way, you could probably count Democrats on the fingers of one hand. Again I ask you to consider to yourself, is your representative an Elitist, or a Democrat?
The people that we elect are the ones that will determine if we have democracy by virtue of whether or not they consult with their constituents. It shows how important it is to elect the right person to represent a riding. The criteria of your vote should definitely not be by who is likely to win, not which party you like, or the one your dad votes for. Rather, I believe that our decision to vote for someone should almost solely be made on this one thing, will that person represent you, or will that person represent their party when sitting in Parliament?
In the last 9 elections, both federal and provincial, I have only voted for one person. I am not saying that I don’t go to the polls, I have only put my tick next to one man. During all other elections I have either declined my ballot, or destroyed my ballot by writing on them.
I ask one simple, clear question to each candidate to determine if I will vote for him/her, that question is “if their is an issue in which your constituents believe one way, but your party believes differently, who will you align your vote with? – your constituents or your party. If the person vying for your vote does not respond quickly, and clearly “I will represent my constituents” that person is not worth voting for. That person will not represent you when acting as your representative, he or she will be just another party yesman in a sea of governing yesmen. If that person tries to give you qualifying examples, or if there is any hesitation in their answer it means that they are not philosophically Democrats and are not worthy of your vote.
If you are unsatisfied by our systems of government, and by the quality of the representatives whose bums warm the seats of our seats of government you need to look at the philosophy of those you vote for. YOU are responsible for who you vote for. Period.
What if no one answers “I will represent my constituents”, then if you can, run for office yourself, but if you can’t run for office, in my opinion you have an obligation to decline your ballot. Or write your displeasure on your ballot. 5 times I have written the same thing on my ballot – “none of these people will represent me, rather, they will merely represent the parties to which they are affiliated”.
Your vote for someone, anyone, that is an Elitist is a vote for the system and the status quo. For myself, I have seen us bang our collective heads against to same wall long enough. It is time we tried something different, and if that means millions of people spoiling their ballots in protest so be it. You might think that your vote would be a wasted voted, remember it already is a wasted vote if you are voting for a yesman (that person already doesn’t represent you). But if a million spoiled ballots made politicians sit up and take notice it, might just be a beginning to a new way of politics – the peoples’ style of Democracy, where the people have a say between elections. Now there’s a concept.