The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one.
In the first episode of the HBO series The Newsroom cable anchor Will MacAvoy, while participating in a panel in front of a room full of college students, was asked the question, “What makes America the greatest country in the world?” At that moment in the series Will had a reputation for being the Jay Leno of Cable News, meaning that he was popular because he didn’t piss people off. Naturally he tried to duck the question, but eventually reached a point where he couldn’t. And so he launched into a tirade about all the myriad things that are wrong with America and how and why it never used to be that way.
It’s a truly epic piece of television. And every time I see it I start thinking about the fact that even though his tirade was clearly directed at all the shortcomings of the modern United States a great deal of what he said can be attributed to Canada as well. Because we have lost our way. We have become a shadow of our former selves. And, like the United States, the simple fact of the matter is that we did it to ourselves.
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Once upon a time we stood up for what was right. When we fought it was for moral reasons, because there was genuine evil in this world that needed to be brought down. And when we weren’t fighting against genuine evil Canadian soldiers served with honor and distinction in peacekeeping operations all over the world. We didn’t feel the need that the Americans did to act as the police force for the world. We were content insead to stand between two disparate groups of people who wanted little more than to kill each other and said, “Not on my watch.” And we were good at it.
We went where we were invited. We went where we were asked to go. And when our job was done we packed our bags and moved on.
I won’t say that we’ve waged war on poverty, because I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. But over the decades the Canadian government has certainly done a great deal to ameliorate the effects of poverty within our own borders. We’ve fielded a myriad array of social programs and initiatives, some of which have been more effective than others. But at least we weren’t afraid to try.
And while our health care system is far from perfect, it can honestly be said that every single Canadian has access to basic medical care at the very least. And we can also say that our system is sufficiently effective at what it does that few, if any, people have gone bankrupt because of medical expenses the way some have in the states.
We sacrificed. We cared about our neighbors. Need proof? Look at the Canadian response to the stranded airline passengers on 9/11. The generous people of Newfoundland opened their homes to complete strangers because they were in shock, and in pain, and they needed someplace to go. Once upon a time that generousity of spirit was a defining characteristic of Canadians. And while some Canadians seem to retain that defining quality, the number of people who do seems to decline with each passing year. And no one seems to catch wise.
We built great things. We made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases. I won’t say we’ve cultivated the world’s greatest economy, nor will I say that we’ve cultivated the world’s greatest artists, but I will say that we’ve cultivated some damn fine artists and thinkers, people who have a unique view of the world and whose contributions to the arts and sciences have earned Canada legions of accolades from all over the world.
Once upon a time we aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it, and being exposed to legitimately intelligent people didn’t make us fell inferior. We didn’t need to muzzle our scientists because of fear that their findings would conflict with our chosen narrative, because once upon a time it wasn’t the narrative that was important.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election. We were Canadians, united and proud.
And we didn’t scare so easily. We weren’t so content to allow our government to gradually strip away our hard-won freedoms, guaranteed and enshrined in the law of the land, in the name of security. All we really asked was that our government keep the really rotten things the world had to offer outside our borders.
How the mighty have fallen.
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The state of politics in Canada is troubling.
Any and all traces of civility and respect between our elected Members of Parliament, even during the most heated disagreements, has vanished. It has been replaced with an atmosphere of hyper-partisanship in which Members of Parliament are less concerned about serving their constituents than they are about keeping the party whips happy. Their level of discourse has devolved from rational debate to an endless repetition of hoary old talking points and applause lines, punctuated by biting insults, accusations, the occasional threat, and no small amount of fear mongering and spin.
What thinkers were present on the right have been replaced by a legion of brash, bellicose, belligerent, blatantly hostile, apoplectic bullies who see themselves as some great preacher promising fire and brimstone from the heavens if the unwashed, uneducated masses don’t assume their proper role and blindly do as they are told, utterly and completely ignorant of the fact that they are instead perceived as the bedraggled, dishevelled street preachers of old, spinning lies and nonsense for the promise of a handful of silver. So utterly and completely convinced of the righteousness of their cause and the favour with which their god looks down upon them are they that these individuals are completely incapable of responding to reason. They cannot be argued with and they refuse to compromise. Why should they when God is on their side?
The left is not in any better shape. The newer generation of progressives being relentlessly churned out by our universities are intent not only on ruthlessly destroying any reasonable semblance of free speech to avoid having to face potentially uncomfortable alternative points of view that profoundly challenge their own, but also on equally ruthlessly rewriting episodes of our history to remove any and all episodes that they believe might cause someone an element of unwelcome discomfort. Aided and abetted by the tacit approval of the earlier generation of progressives these well meaning weak willed simpletons continue to run roughshod over our heritage and our history, while simultaneously, and at the same time, shouting down any and all who would challenge their good intentions with accusations of prejudice, bigotry, phobia, and all-around meanness. Wilfully ignorant of the fact that life is not supposed to be fair, these individuals seek to make life fair, so that people can’t ever have their feelings hurt or be made to feel uncomfortable.
Regardless of their position on the left or the right, the vast majority of our political creatures all suffer from the same tragic malady: they all wear blinders that keep them from seeing and recognizing anyone or anything that does not fit with their ideology and world view. There is no context. There is no history. There are no extenuating circumstances. There is only hatred and prejudice.
The sole and only saving grace of both progressive and more conservative ideologies is the fact that they both, on occasion, have a point.
The fact that both sides of the equation continue to breed and to pass their hateful ideologies on to their offspring is not only troubling, it is tragic. It does not give one hope for the future.
It does not help to consider that as a society we seem to have fallen into a pattern of electing our political parties to government based not on a careful and thoughtful analysis of the promises that they are making, what it will take to fulfil those promises, and the consequences of those promises, but by which party is telling us exactly what we want to hear at any given moment. We’ve become completely ignorant of past history and performance, even of the character and integrity of the people that we are electing to office (except if its someone we don’t like. Then we’re right careful about looking into character and integrity). We elect our parties to government based entirely on which segment of the lowest common denominator is pissed off the most, and thus does a better job of getting the vote out.
It is any wonder, then, that our politics have become stagnant to the point of indolence and beyond.
It has become increasingly obvious over the last twenty years or so that our politics are inherently broken. Not the system itself, mind you. The overall political system is sound. The electoral process is sound as well, despite the reservations of many about the systems overall fairness.
Part of the reason why our politics are broken is because the quality of the candidates that we are electing to office is, in some cases, questionable at best. In other cases it seems impossible to fathom what could possibly drive a community of supposedly intelligent individuals to elect the people they have representing them. The problem with electing representatives of questionable character, questionable motives, and questionable merit is that a great deal of time is spent defending the sometimes indefensible actions of these individuals instead of applying a reasonable, objective analysis to their overall performance as elected representatives. It does not help that, in Canada, there is no such thing as recall legislation.
Elections have become nothing more or less than a popularity contest whose results are entirely dependent on which of a group of questionable candidates is best able to convince their myriad supporters to actually get off their fat asses and cast their vote. This is why we have our traditional pattern of alternating between liberal and conservatives governments every decade or so.
Sadly, it is obvious that this particular tendency hasn’t done us a shred of good as a country. In fact, what progress we might have made to alleviate some of our shortcomings has been entirely impeded by this tendency, regardless of which party is actually holding office at the time.
It is a truism that none of the current mainstream political parties actually represents a unified majority of the beliefs of average, ordinary Canadians. It is also a truism that none of the fringe parties do either. And since it is increasingly obvious that none of these entities are capable of being reformed from within then that leaves only one viable strategy to try to make our country better: We, as Canadians, need to rise up and form a new political party, one that leaves the trappings, pomp, and circumstance of the traditional parties behind in favour of facing head on the realities of the modern world.
Thus, I propose the creation of the Strategy of Technology Party of Canada.
One of the things that will set the Strategy of Technology Party apart from most traditional Canadian political parties is our complete and utter abandonment of the traditional Left-Wing/Right-Wing paradigm. It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal, conservative, social democrat, or anything in-between. What matters is an overwhelming desire to see the great nation of Canada live up to its full and unbridled potential and the understanding that all of our traditional political parties have been falling far short in that regard.
Pandering to your base, and to the lowest common denominator is no longer enough. We must cast as wide a net as possible, get our message out to as many people as possible. We must encourage them to think, to ask questions above and beyond what the traditional parties are spitting out in pre-approved talking points. We are capable of thinking for ourselves, of applying the tenets of reason and logical thought, of reaching conclusions without having them spoon-fed to us. And now, more than ever, we need to start doing exactly that.
The other thing that will set the Strategy of Technology Party apart will be the people who we choose to put forward as electoral candidates. Professional politicians will not be welcome. You lot have had over a hundred years to bring our great nation to its full potential, and you’ve failed miserably. Your time is over. It’s time for a new breed to step forward: military officers, front line soldiers, first responders, law enforcement officers, scientists, technologists, doctors, engineers, average ordinary every-day people who have been systematically silenced, who have been denied a voice of their own in the affairs of our nation because they don’t subscribe to the traditional mindset of the Eastern Elite. Those are the people that we want to step forward and speak for their fellow Canadians in our Parliament.
Above all, the most outstanding feature of our party will be a standing policy of setting policies based not on philosophy or ideology, but on science and reason and old-fashioned common sense. And an overwhelming desire to structure those policies so that they advantage all Canadians everywhere, not just the ones living in a specific region or the ones who belong to a specific industry.
For the sake of our continued survival the good of the Nation must come first.
We won’t be the party of fear-mongering, nor will we be the party of hope and change. What we will be is the party of reality, the party that not only shares with our constituents the truth about the state of our nation and the dangers that we face, but also shares with our people the means to resolve those problems, to better ourselves and our country, and to share equally in the benefits that flow naturally from achieving all of those goals.
Canadian politics as we know it is inherently broken. Will you join your brothers and sisters in rising up and putting our nation back on its proper course, before its too late? I know where I stand. Where do you stand?