“Convince Candidates of Real Change” – Whistler Question, Nov 11, 2014

In Portfolio, Writing by Steve

Here’s the final column I produced for the Whistler Question newspaper for the 2014 Election.  It was fun to produce these – I had some feedback that was both constructive and demeaning –  I guess I’m doing something right.

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As the final week of campaigning wraps up, there will undoubtedly be a push by all those running to convince you that they are the right man/woman for the job.

It’s a challenging role to sift through the platforms as a voter, and it’s almost more difficult this time around with more council candidates being elected than not.

Having run for council last time around, I was motivated to put forth a diligent effort this year in selecting who would represent me as the leaders of this fine town. It’s no easy job to put yourself on the line, and I respect everyone who threw their hats in the ring. I would have loved to run again, but due to some other work commitments I was not able to call Whistler home for the next four years, at least in the capacity where I felt I was doing the position a good service.

Politics is work, and campaigning is the longest, most intrusive, gossip-laden, judgmental job interview that anyone will have to go through. It is more prestige than power, especially in our town where the staff makes many decisions in municipal hall long before the mayor strikes the gavel in a council meeting. The meetings themselves are absent of any significant debate, giving the image that they have simply become a routine exercise in obligation more than a real forum of public discourse.

I looked at the candidate strategies and what they were sharing as a message. Some of them I know. Some of them I don’t. Some of them I like and respect. Some I fear for their position in a public office. What I noticed was consistent to what I have observed throughout most election campaigns these days. Most seem set on perpetuating a system that is set up more to quell discontent than to provide a true platform for allowing a free society to flourish and thrive.

I feel as though I’ve done my due diligence. For incumbents I looked at what they accomplished over the past three years. All four unfortunately came up short with the mandate that the population voiced. The top three issues in my mind were pay parking, removing the asphalt plant, and adding transparency to municipal hall. All three issues were not dealt with in a manner that I would call a success, and the incumbent votes did not reflect what I would have done in that situation.

Another candidate I was hopeful for, but was busy when they contacted me and I asked for them to follow up the next week. They said they would. I heard nothing back. That is enough for me to decide not to vote for that person.

But despite my feelings toward the individual candidates, my main issue can be generalized with everyone. Basically I am cautious to vote for anyone who either willingly or unwillingly ignores the elephant in the room — that our local government has become a system of control that far exceeds its boundaries of a common-sense free society.

French historian Alexis de Tocqueville said it well in his paper “Democracy in America” more than 150 years ago. He argued that the New World government, “after having thus successfully taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned them at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided: men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence, it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupifies people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

In present-day society his vision couldn’t be truer. His observation is the crux of why it is important for us to remain vigilant. Unfortunately in Whistler no one seemed to intent on rectifying this issue, one that affects us all to the core of our daily living through a system of control.

Perhaps the tide will turn soon, and I hope that the catalyst for change isn’t a form of injustice that traditionally causes a mass mobilization. The fact that we can choose our leaders to determine our path, yet as a society perpetuate the injustice through voting in people without the resolve to initiate true change is saddening. Until that tide turns we can push forward to do our own part to improve the community and lead by example. Without that push, though, the false definition of democracy will continue.

We have a few more days to convince candidates to create real change. Let’s hope they feel the same urge to have Whistler on the leading edge of Democracy 2.0.

– See more at: http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/columnists/convince-candidates-of-real-change-1.1532859#sthash.NjNc2YUz.dpuf