Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Writing About Politics has Been Harder Since 2016

As much as I wish it was not the case I have found this blog more difficult to maintain over the last few months. Some of it, I have no doubt, is personal. My life now is far less conducive than it once was to reading and writing regularly. It was easier in some ways to write the blog three years ago when I was working full-time and had lots of demands on me than now when I am tragically, painfully underemployed. But this post isn't about my personal life, I think I'd like to talk more explicitly about my willingness to engage and debate politics in the current era.

Let's get the orange elephant out of the way. Donald Trump's disruptive effect on the body politic is often stomach-turning. I have heard political theorists state that creating a sense of crisis or constant disorder keeps the public off balance and gives governments a freer hand in the exercise of power. I in no way can credit the Trump administration with that level of foresight. What I can say is that the way the America (and sometimes the world) stumbles and falls into crisis after crisis is draining. It is exhausting.

A human being only has so much bandwidth. Even for the most engaged there is only so much a person can pay attention and care about. As a person who tries to get people to care about incredibly dry subjects I understand this innately. I wish I could say that this was a simple process of eliminating the irrelevant, but it's not. I have not poked my head into the North Korea news in the last month because I don't think my brain could process it at present.

I went through a similar phenomenon actually about eight years ago. Before 2009/2010 I used to follow American politic extremely closely. However, in the wake of Obama's election the healthcare broke my ability to stomach more news. Despite its importance and the fact that I supported health care reform watching the drama unfold literally over months left me burned out.

As much as I'd like to blame the Yankees alone in this I must say our own politics has left me feeling downtrodden as well. I really dislike our Prime Minister. I dislike him because like many New Democrats I feared precisely the current state of affairs. Elected on a long list of promises he appears to have become the vanguard of the status quo on a number of important files. The sabotage of electoral reform was a major blow. Trudeau and the Liberals have left a long string of bad decisions and broken promises that seem to be plunging back into the same, repeating cycle of bad policies.

Ontario is not much better. A tired Liberal government grinds forward. Its chronic mismanagement and politicking means that its good policy babies are going to get tossed out with its scandal-riddled bathwater in the near future.

Municipally hasn't been much better. Brampton's City Council continues to disappoint. New, bizarre problems with the city administration seem to constantly pop up, and it feels as though the political leaders are waiting for the 2018 elections to sort out their differences. Toronto likewise has continued a series of bad policies as the City Council there and Mayor Tory have tried to find the centrist middle consensus and stomach bad policies continuing.

Twitter was my go to home for political engagement, but now it is a din of disappointment and frustration and anger. I am a person who has constantly encouraged people to engage in the political sphere. I think engagement is a public good in and of itself, but it comes at a cost. It costs us time, and energy, and intellect and it costs us our will.

This isn't a final post before some hiatus. I just wished to share why sitting at my keyboard and typing for this blog is harder sometimes than others, and not just because I have no idea what the hell to write. Keep on staying engaged friends, but it's okay to unplug.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your post and agree with you in some respects.

Politics has changed for the worse. In the old days if you did not agree with someone, they simple held a different opinion. Nowadays, if you do not agree with someone, they are intrinsically bad. Why?

I don’t particularly like Trump (less than Hilary), but he is he not the symptom, not the problem? Describe the ideal candidate in 2020.

The culture war is significantly more emotional these days than ever. Why is ‘alt-‘ a term given to those you don’t agree with? What is the future of free speech in Canada?

I do not like Trudeau either although because I think he inherited something he couldn’t earn without his last name. An interesting intellectual exercise is to strip out the specifics and note the common generic characteristics with Trump: Rich kid from inherited wealth, not a career politician, plays on emotion not reason to supporters, main medium is social media… fancy joining in?

Insofar as Trudeau's policies are concerned, as a small ‘c’ conservative I do not think much change is needed. The Senate could be abolished and I don’t think we would really notice (like NZ). Ultimately, it's prime purpose should neither be as a second crack for opposition parties nor a retirement home for ‘friends’. It should represent the national interest and be a chamber to scrutinise – not second guess – Commons’ legislation.

We could get electoral reform, proportional representation, but beware what you wish for as it may well fracture the major parties. That may, as in many European counties, result in disproportionate power resting in small parties: the tail wagging the dog. I realise there are benefits, but to my mind, the case for change has to demonstrate significant and overwhelming benefits, not just ‘different’.

Of course politics takes a lot of time and effort – it was ever thus, e.g. demonstrating against Vietnam. But please persevere and don’t stop, I do enjoy reading the writings of misguided liberals ;-)