Two-party feedlot?

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan


Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

I’m one of your neighbours … the one with a puzzled expression. Maybe there are many of us, but, for me, I’m serially surprised by the disconnect I run into so often, where everyone will agree or reason to a certain point or line of action concerning a problem facing us all. And then we walk away …  and ignore our resolution. I’m referring to big issues like climate change and habitat loss, for example. We all agree (most of us) with the seriousness of the threats we are facing – yet our personal actions, lifestyles and habits which contribute to the planet’s dangers, well, we just keep doing what we agree we shouldn’t. Except we rarely put it in personal terms: it’s usually "them", rarely "us", and almost never "me".
Shopping (consumerism) is another example. The more stuff we go through (ending up in our dumps), the bigger the stress we place on our climate and atmosphere. Think of all the factories (China and elsewhere)
producing this stuff … think of the mines, smelters, processing, and transportation, the thousands of ships stacked with containers for our stores and e-catalogues. All coming, and leaving the dark clouds of pollution we associate with China, India, and South Africa. We picture crowds of kids breaking down our trash to extract rare metals or digging up those rare earths – all to keep our phones and Facebook functioning. Plus the million other things we buy and discard. Think of the tar sands we personally appropriate for our own driving – just to shop! To vacation or visit … but we know all this. Most of us agree our own life styles are contributing to our planet’s breakdown … until Amazon’s delivery truck is at the door.
In a few weeks we’ll elect a new national government. Polling tells us that voters agree that climate change, income inequality, nuclear waste disposal, and reconciliation require radical and serious attention – by all of us, by our governments. Yes, we want a government which can undertake radical measures. Step-by-step increments will no longer get us ahead of the curve of atmosphere degeneration and climate chaos. We
ponder the parties … read the candidates’ promises … all the while knowing that no radical change will come from the two Old Parties. How do we know that? Simple, they’ve been in action for so long. We’ve seen them at work, over and over and over. We know what to expect, even from "solemn promises".
Therefore we know what to expect from them: no significant and complete measures to really grab these problems. So step one is easy: the two historical parties have been in power so many times, we know what they can and won’t do. So why even consider voting for either old party?
Certainly we should support a candidate we connect with – on issues, choices, and personal convictions. Polls also tell us that fears of minority or coalition governments are misplaced. Minority and coalition governments have been much more helpful than either monolithic Old Party. Folks may say they don’t know what to expect from the smaller parties, true, but we do know for sure what we’ll get from either of the two Old Parties: same-old, same-old.
With the Two Old Parties’ track record, a new face doesn’t mean new policies. Policies come from the backers and from each party’s structure, approved, sometimes, by membership conventions. It’s said that parties (plus the media) are the very instrument whereby our nation’s wealthy and corporate-elite can control political decision-making – a brief geography of Canada’s Two Party feedlot.
And the major challenge for a genuinely new government is that our nation’s media and opinion-makers will make any new party’s novel governing extremely difficult.  
But what’s to stop us each from voting for any of the newer parties? Here in the Pontiac we ought to stop being so predictable! We don’t belong to a two-team sports league. Where and what has Pontiac
predictability gotten us? We can make this unnecessary election a significant one by voting with our hearts and brains – not from fears and habit. Why can’t we?