September 2019: Political Betrayal
The recent-past Provincial Election and notification of an upcoming Federal Election has got me thinking about betrayal. In my line of work, betrayal is a common concern—usually in the context of intimate relationships—but sometimes other types of relationships as well. It’s difficult to unpack political betrayal because it is less tangible, less personal. And yet it feels very personal because it relates to our core beliefs and values.
I confess that I am struggling with guilt at not voting in the Provincial Election. It feels like a betrayal of the Famous Five ( Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, Irene Parlby) who fought so hard for women to be counted as persons and hence have the right to vote. There is even a striking statue on the grounds of the Provincial Legislative Buildings in Winnipeg.
I also believe that my vote should count and matter—and voting for the sake of voting does not support that belief. There really was not a candidate I wanted to vote for. It wasn’t laziness or apathy. It was a conscious decision NOT to vote for a person or platform that I didn’t trust, or believe in, or perceive he/she represented my vote. I want my vote to count for the things that matter to me. And in the last federal election, my vote for what mattered to me was betrayed. Trust in the fabric of democracy itself was shattered let alone the elected representative who made empty promises.
I will not vote for someone—anyone—just because it is the “right” thing to do, because women’s right to vote is hard won. So is my right to consciously, yet quietly, boycott the political circus. My sense of betrayal is so deep, I have become jaded and cynical about politics, parliament, and our version of “democracy.” Evidently, my values are not in keeping with the majority. And as we all know, majority rules.
Well, sometimes fairness and justice means the underdog should have his or her voice heard too. As I do not trust a political party or politician to adequately represent me, why would I vote for one? Our current political system is archaic and deeply flawed. Parliamentary practices are based upon antiquated tradition (like yelling to drown out the words spoken by the opposition) and not common sense, common courtesy, collaboration, and basic human dignity. It is based upon power plays. How is that democracy?
In a democratic society (and with the marvels of modern technology), I would like to vote on the individual issues. I would like my vote to count and my voice to be heard. That’s after all what the Famous Five fought so hard for—to be heard—and to have the basis in place to be heard. I don’t feel my voice is being heard with my vote in the current political climate. In that sense, my individual vote does not count or matter. It only elects an official.
I am not trying to demand an audience for extremist views. I simply want human dignity upheld—for everyone—not the way our power-playing system benefits from it. Common sense says everyone should have access to drinking water, affordable housing, nutritional food, education. Not just for the select few who vote “right.”
I don’t want to start a political rant as I know “no one” is listening and/or cares about what I passionately believe in—it won’t get votes or win popularity contests. But I guess I want to express my views on betrayal—which were affirmed in a news clip just prior to the provincial election. I am not the only woman to feel betrayed and unrepresented by current options. It was also affirming to hear a clip about how men and women perceive political issues differently—in essence how we vote—but for both genders it comes down to trust.
Can I trust this candidate (and/or in the political party platform) to adequately represent me or my concerns? And the answer, for me, is NO. Even if I did hear rhetoric that reflected my concerns, I would be extremely hesitant to vote because of being burned. I trusted someone’s promises to make changes in this country that became hot air. Not only that, but money left the country to educate women in developing countries. I’m all for that—but not at the expense of our own Canadians—male or female!
I will not be taken in like that again. The actions of the candidates must indicate their interests. What does their track record show? What are they already involved in? What change have they supported or created? Most political performers are just that—performers. I have yet to see our political system perform sensibly. If that’s what democracy means—power plays, popularity contests, and performances—then I’m not interested.
My vote means too much to me to be wasted on a rigged system. Just because the majority rules, doesn’t make it healthy or even in the best interests “of the people.” There is that charming saying about followers of the masses: sometimes the ‘m’ is silent.