So, I’m always reading. Usually, I’m reading stuff that resonates with my beliefs and interests (aren’t we all though?). Most times, what I wind up reading are blogs or articles that get linked to in my facebook feed. In fact, the only way that I really know what’s going on in our world is because of the good people who keep linking to or commenting on political/social/economic/enviromental pieces.
This irritates MOMD to no end since he is a news junkie and a journalist by trade. My ardent refusal to engage in his penchant for useless information is baffling to him; although I like to think he also secretly finds it endearing.
Anyway. As you well know if your’e a regular reader (bah! Regular! That assumes that I write regularly! hahaha… Sorry. But really: we both know that’s just ludicrous.) my leanings are decidedly socialist with a mighty dash of feminist. So a lot of what I decide to read in my feed are stories in these veins. This morning I linked to something about women not engaging in political discourse because of the level of debate.
Now that resonated with me.
So I clicked the link. And I tell you what: it was not well written. In fact, I think it was written by someone who simply wanted to prove their point because it did nothing to further the discussion, and it actively discouraged my interest. Which is a shame because honestly, I think the subheader did a great job of luring in readers. The synopsis hit on an idea that’s been percolating in my head for ages that I just haven’t had the time to formulate.
I do not actively engage in politics because the level of discourse is so low.
A prime example is attack ads. They do nothing to discuss party platforms, track records, or public engagement. The sole purpose of these ads is to simply defame a single person. And while it’s true that often we often vote for an individual rather than specifically a party (Jack Layton, anyone?) ads that vilify the leader of a party are useless. I remember when Kim Campbell had stepped in as interim leader for the Conservative party back in 1993 and during the election campaign that followed, she was advised to run an ad that criticized – really, made fun of – Jean Chretien’s partially paralyzed face. The woman I was wanted desperately to love our country’s first female Prime Minister, but the human in me was appalled at that level of insensitivity. As was most of the country, and the conservatives fell from a majority government to not even holding official party status.
It’s not just attack ads though. If I look at politics closer to home, a fantastic example of what really turns my engagement to zero is currently holding the title of Mayor in the City of Toronto. There are so many things that offend me about Mayor Rob Ford, I could seriously go on and on. If I look at that litany what it all boils down to is that he is belligerent, diametrically opposed to discussion or debate and willfully ignorant. What I learned in school, when I was politically engaged, is that the heart of politics is discourse.
Remember debating? I do. I remember high school debates with so much fondness. Choosing or being given a stance (defense or opposition) on a statement, and you and your team mate laid out an argument and then you debated the other side. They were heated, but they were always civilized. Yes, we kept to our stances while the debate was raging, but we were listening to what the other side was saying. We had to: we had to be able to refute their arguments.
From my position, today’s politicians are all like Mayor Ford. They have a position, they have a party line, some communications handler carefully crafts them a statement, and they read it. Over and over and over again in some cases. They are not listening, they are not responding, they are not engaged. When the opposition stands up to speak, they are doing the same thing, except there’s a lot of heavy chest thumping accompanying their stating and restating and restating their opposition.
And really: that’s just so disheartening. I for one would welcome a conversation where I did not have to prove that sexism is inherent, that rape culture exists, and that listening and responding to comments is an important part of what sets us humans apart from primates. Maybe, just maybe, if I felt like anyone was listening, if anyone anywhere in our political system was engaged, then perhaps I too would become so myself.
For now though, for now I’ll just stay over here in my media-free bubble.