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Living Today by Roldan Sevillano Jr.Repairing democracy

   Golden Boy
Did you know that the Golden Boy was meant to be placed in the front of the Manitoba Legislature but because of his nudity, it was decided to place him atop the dome instead where he stands is today

Some believe the strength of democracy is that the powers of governance lie in the people. Others will say that the flaw of democracy is that the powers of governance lie in the people.

There are always two sides to every coin. On one side, democracy is great because it allows everyone the equal opportunity to choose their representative. On the other side, when people don’t care to vote and those who do represent special interests instead of the public interest, then it is not a true democracy. It is broken because we no longer live in a place where governments are formed by the genuine will and participation of all people. It is broken because the contest to be elected no longer requires the effort to speak to all people in order to win. In election terms, this form of campaigning is phrased, “mobilize your base in order to win the race”.

This is where the democratic decay begins and political parties of all stripes have contributed to it in one form or another. This type of destructive political discourse has over the years inadvertently created a new generation of dispirited and disenfranchised citizens. Voters are bombarded with negative propaganda advertisements where they are left only to choose who will do the least amount of harm, instead of choosing a candidate who has the best ideas. As distasteful as this may be, these tactics are used all over the world to influence policy, legislation and election campaigns.

In a way, democracy is like a liver. You don’t really appreciate its importance and purpose until it’s removed. The liver has many functions. It resists infections and breaks down fats while metabolizing proteins and carbohydrates. Just like the liver, democracy is a hidden organ of societal anatomy and in its absence the disease of tyranny, dictatorship and chaos inevitably ensues. Having said that, there is hope.

Despite the way democracy has evolved, the power to choose our future representatives has never left our hands. The first step in the right direction is recognizing that the demons of democracy are ignorance and apathy. Believe it or not, there are political workers out there whose sole jobs are to cultivate and maintain an ignorant and apathetic public. Their motto is, the less they know, the less they care, and the less they will ask. We must train our hearts and minds to see beyond the world of hyper-partisanship. We should not be easily influenced by negative attack ads but instead make a conscious effort to know your politicians by the issues they represent and make a decision from there. In any event, the most powerful type of decision we can collectively make is an informed decision.

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Earlier I stated that a strong democracy exists with the people. I was wrong. It should really say a strong democracy exists only when people participate. If participating means attending a public meeting, standing up for a cause or encouraging others to get involved, then you have done your due diligence. If you feel there is something that needs to be addressed in your community, then I encourage you to contact your City Councilor, MLA or MP to express your concern. That is what they are there for and you are quite within your rights to have access to them. One of the greatest services you can perform as a citizen is to cast your vote during elections. Remember that our ability to vote is a result of the countless brave men and women who have fought and died so that we may continue to have this privilege. And for those who believe their one vote does not matter, did you know that California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington were each admitted to the United States a margin of one vote each. I have learned very quickly that politics is a process of addition where every single vote really does count.

To sum it all up, the level of our involvement will determine how accountable and informed future governments will be to the issues that are important to us. Whether you decide to be on the frontline or on the sidelines, the beauty and flaw of democracy will forever be that your participation remains to be a choice.

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. – George Bernard Shaw

Roldan Sevillano is the Executive Assistant to Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North. For questions or comments on this article, you can email him at roldan@4kevin.ca

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