"A Citizen"s Eye View"

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Election Fatigue?

Election Fatigue! You've heard the phrase or a variation thereof. As I understand it, this is supposed to mean "voter burnout" or basically that the citizens of the country are tired of elections and that one more right now will plunge the entire electorate into the depths of depression and despair.

Mind you, putting a little "x" on a little piece of paper with a bunch of names printed on it is pretty tough work, but other than that, I'm just not sure I get the concept. 

It's been three years since the last general election in Canada. There has been a slough of municipal elections and bi-elections around the country. And Provincial elections are looming just around the corner.  But this is part of the ebb and flow of democracy in our country. Elections are the heart and soul of our heart and soul. They are our chance, as citizens of this wonderful country, to have a say as to how our land is to be governed. It's the time for our collective voices to be heard.

Elections, especially of the Federal variety, are exciting times. There are signs everywhere, the closer we get to d-day, the more signs seem to literally "grow" on every lawn and street corner. It's colourful, celebratory, almost festive. Like all the flags that were flown by the citizenry during the World Cup of Football.Everyone had a team. It's very tribal.

Then there are the TV ads. Granted, many of them are becoming more and more distasteful. But they are representative of the parties that have the temerity to air them. They should be a consideration when involved in the arduous task of placing that little "x" in the circle on election day. Would you, could you, should you, vote for anyone that would air such down and dirty commercials, completely devoid of any real content?

And then there's the Canadian media. During a Federal election, the air waves, print media and Internet are filled with election stories. Scribes and pundits all tripping over each other to get the best angle on the latest turn of events.

Personally, I find all of that pretty exciting. But then again, I may have just admitted to being a political nerd. But when I look at it all objectively, I'm just not sure how all of that can contribute to "voter burn-out". Why would signs, tasteless ads and news stories put our collective society on the edge of emotional collapse?

Several Journalists and pollsters have hypothesized that there is a "lack of engagement" on the part of our current political leaders. I would agree that there is no Pierre Trudeau or Barrack Obama to dazzle us with endless charm and charisma  and to instill into our consciousness the hope for better things to come. All that kind of stuff can make elections almost seem "sexy".

But such is not the case with the current Canadian political landscape.  The "charisma" factor is very noticeably lacking in most of our leaders. We're like the hockey team that lacks any real stars, we are functioning and scoring points with a team full of role players. But a team like that can make for some pretty exciting hockey. So is the game then about the Stars? Or is the game about the Game?

For anyone who has paid attention, there has been enough chicanery and intrigue going on in Ottawa to make for a pretty fair detective novel. And there is a battle being waged in Parliament that pits our traditional  Canadian values against the scourge of  Neo-Con ideology who's main tenants threaten to plunge us back into the dark ages. And this is boring??

So I would suggest that the concept of "Election fatigue" is a red-herring. It is a concept created by politicians to skillfully if not duplicitouslly  tell Canadians they don't want an election right now. Like the hypnotist telling us all "you are getting sleepy, very very sleepy". It is a matter of suggestion and the pollsters and media are unwitting dupes to this hypnotic ploy. The truth is more likely that our political parties, like most Canadians pay far too much attention to the endless number of polls that are being churned out on an almost daily basis now, all of which are "accurate to with in three percentage points  19 times out of 20". Truth be told, they would be better off charting their election hopes according to the stars. It makes about as much sense as the "election fatigue" theory.

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