No en­thu­si­asm for elec­tion

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

Be­cause of pub­lish­ing dead­lines you may be read­ing this col­umn be­fore, on elec­tion day, or af­ter­wards, so I will keep that in some part of my mind as I write.

What is crowd­ing right up to the front of the queue wait­ing out­side an­other part of my mind, that part that fig­ures out pri­or­i­ties, is what I have been hear­ing as I talk to peo­ple about this elec­tion. Or, to put it more cor­rectly, what I am not hear­ing. En­thu­si­asm. Af­ter a lot of years in this busi­ness of pay­ing at­ten­tion to pol­i­tics in or­der to com­ment on it, I can’t re­mem­ber such a to­tal lack of en­thu­si­asm. Zero. Not a bit.

Why is that, I won­dered? I thought I’d ask that part of my mind that tries to solve the mys­ter­ies of modern life. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find I’m call­ing them pretty of­ten these days. I’m con­stantly run­ning into sit­u­a­tions that I sim­ply find im­pos­si­ble to solve us­ing other parts of my mind. So I rely on them fre­quently.

If my mind-tele­phone had speed dial, they’d be on it. I was not sur­prised to hear over a static-filled line the fa­mil­iar mes­sage that I so of­ten get when I call there.

“All our mind-work­ers are busy now try­ing to an­swer an un­ex­pect­edly high vol­ume of your ques­tions. Your call is im­por­tant to us. Please hold the line to main­tain your call pri­or­ity. Have a nice day.” This was fol­lowed by recorded mu­sic: a rap ver­sion of the Ode to New­found­land.

“God guard thee uh-huh! uh-huh! God guard thee uh-huh! uh-huh! God guard thee New­found­land uh­huh! uh-huh!”

I hung up the mind-phone. I de­cided to ex­am­ine the ev­i­dence I had ob­served first-hand and then just wing it. Make up my own mind. Re­search is over­rated any­way. The part of my mind that pur­ports to solve the mys­ter­ies of modern life would prob­a­bly just feed me data from their lat­est poll. They would un­doubt­edly claim it was ac­cu­rate within five per­cent­age poit, 19 times out of 20. I wanted more pre­ci­sion than that.

So, I thought back to what I had heard peo­ple say­ing, both in per­son, in my part of Bon­av­ista Bay, and add to that to what I had read, seen or heard in the me­dia.

Sud­denly, the part of my mind that some­times gen­er­ates a flash of in­sight started ut­ter­ing a sound that was sup­posed to make me pay at­ten­tion. The noise was more em­phatic than the chirp­ing of a mi­crowave but less alarm­ing than a smoke de­tec­tor.

It worked. The mes­sage was: The pop­u­la­tion of New­found­land and Labrador, de­spite all the tech­nolo­gies de­voted to keep­ing us in­formed about each other, is as di­vided as it has ever been. That’s be­cause when we are in­formed what peo­ple in an­other re­gion or group think is im­por­tant, it fre­quently has noth­ing to do with what is of in­ter­est to us. This can cause us to tune out or even be­come re­sent­ful.

The Avalon sub­urbs re­sent St. John’s and the Town­ies scorn the Bur­bies. They both are un­aware of what makes Bay­men tick. Peo­ple in Labrador think the Is­land re­gards them as a ware­house empty of per­son­nel but stogged right full with nat­u­ral re­sources for the tak­ing. Is­lan­ders, when they even think of Labrador, are in­clined to roll their eyes when the peo­ple from the big land come to mind. New­found­lan­ders some­times grum­ble that Labrado­ri­ans are in­clined to come on ex­ces­sively ro­man­tic and ecosen­si­tive when they re­flect on where they live.

You won’t of­ten hear me say this, but I feel kind of sorry for the poor politi­cians. How are they sup­posed to make pol­icy when a per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion ap­plauds a given plank in their elec­tion plat­form while an­other crowd is ei­ther ve­he­mently op­posed or thinks the plank is ir­rel­e­vant, waste­ful even.

It is from this in­ter­sec­tion of con­flict­ing in­ter­ests that the lack of en­thu­si­asm for the elec­tion arises. That and the oft re­peated claim, “ Why should I vote? They’re all the same any­way. They don’t care.”

That is a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy. If enough peo­ple don’t vote it will lead the politi­cians to con­clude that the peo­ple don’t care. If the peo­ple don’t care why should the politi­cians? A vi­cious cir­cle.

So, de­pend­ing when you are read­ing this, please go out and vote to­mor­row, vote to­day, or, I hope you voted ear­lier in the week.

It’s im­por­tant. Peo­ple around the world are demon­strat­ing against tyran­ni­cal gov­ern­ments, hop­ing to ac­quire the right to vote. Many of them are be­ing killed seek­ing this pre­cious right that we some­times take for granted.

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