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Reflections from the SwampReflections on Politics and Blame

Reflections on Politics and Blame

Reflections from the Swamp
Richard van Duyvendyk

Dear Reader

We are all bombarded with news of a world in crisis. We’re hearing about or experiencing floods, droughts, and record-breaking heat waves. Wars are becoming more common in Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine. When a new crisis, such as the war in Israel/Palestine, occurs, the media and our overwhelmed sense of compassion and empathy can’t take in any more grief. Since the war in Israel/Palestine began, we have been confronted again with the broken side of humanity. Vengeance, more killing, and more war don’t address root causes. We move from crisis to crisis without any apparent solutions. Who should share the blame?

Bad news sells. The media conditions us to look for right and wrong, left and right, dualistic thinking that doesn’t look for unifying solutions. When responding to media, ask what this crisis says about humanity and what is the best way forward.

Homelessness is spiking due to housing shortages and skyrocketing rents. A significant segment of our population is going deeper into debt because of inflation and high food costs. We instinctively ask who is to blame and feel overwhelmed. Food and shelter are basic human needs. Can we trust our food chains and landlords to forgo extreme profits for the greater good of the people? How do we separate those who are motivated by excess greed? Most revolutions have the exploitation of people with low incomes or poverty as their source. Governments need to address these issues with long-term solutions. The ugly hand of greed is ever present.

According to Statistics Canada, in July 2023, the top 20 percent of earners in Canada held 67.8 percent of the country’s net worth in the first quarter, compared with the bottom 40 percent holding 2.7 percent. The difference between those amounts equals the wealth gap. We’ve all heard of the oligarchies in Russia controlling almost all of the wealth; we seem to be moving in the same direction. We need to find ways to transfer some of the wealth of those who have to the critical needs of the have-nots.

Oligarchs have a disproportional influence on politicians. The Ford /Greenbelt issue is an example. Are our oligarchs motivated to improve living conditions for people experiencing poverty? Politicians who gain their wealth through corruption in office resist democratic processes, as seen in the US, Iran, Russia, and recent elections in West Africa. Dictators fear democratic government because they could be thrown out or arrested for criminal behaviour.

Dictators can pursue greed and power unrestrained by media or democratic oversight. They don’t accept criticism or blame.

We live in a flawed democracy, which is better than an invalid dictatorship. Russians can’t throw Putin out in a fair election. Even fair elections in the US have millions of doubters. The government in Russia controls all media. At least we can hear alternative perspectives in the media and exchange one batch of politicians with another seemingly better group every four years or so. The media in Canada is becoming more and more concentrated. One has to search diligently for alternate perspectives.

I prefer having no parties with each constituency choosing a representative as they have in Nunavut. A majority vote on each issue carries on specific issues. They may differ with their other representatives on the next issue, and party loyalty isn’t needed.

There is too much emphasis on the Party leader. We often hear that someone plans to vote for Poilievre, Trudeau, or Singh even though these leaders don’t reside in their ridings. Political ads have focused on leaders often exaggerating their weaknesses and saying little about their platforms. Partisan politics leads to much sparing in Parliament, where the object is to put down the opposing party rather than devise feasible solutions. We need to improve our political processes.

Let’s look at the effects of combining toxic media with politics in the USA. We can see how the long-term result is a divided country that eventually becomes dysfunctional. Families can’t communicate, alternative viewpoints are fake news, lies are common and woven into reality, and possible solutions are blocked because the parties prioritize their survival over the common good.

Our divisive politics are becoming more like the US daily because negative blame politics unfortunately works. Whenever I hear Poilievre speak in the media, he blames Trudeau for the latest crisis. According to Poilievre, “Everything is worse, and Trudeau is to blame.” Trudeau is responsible for the housing crisis, the Bank of Canada raising interest rates, rising crime rates in Kelowna, the summer of forest fires, crime in Alberta, inviting and honouring a Nazi in the House of Commons, the list goes on. This blaming by Poilievre on Trudeau continues to escalate. Will it be Trudeau’s fault that the Maple Leafs lose hockey games or that the leaves are falling off the trees?

There are many legitimate complaints about Trudeau and the Liberals. The long-term effects of blaming Trudeau for everything will divide Canada as the US is torn apart today. Exaggerated blame morphs into half-truths and lies. We must compare all ideas and solutions in a multiparty system without resorting to overarching blame games. We must realize that our politicians can’t control all the events domestically and abroad. Once we determine an action path, our politicians must work together in the country’s best interests. There must be unity in diversity.

In this article, let’s focus on what we, as individuals and small groups, can do in a world filled with a growing list of crises. An ever-increasing list of charity organizations is asking for money, and donations are decreasing. We need to increase our donations, research local groups such as food banks, and petition local politicians on issues such as housing.

Local churches have charitable programs we can support even if we aren’t churchgoers. Research organizations that help in areas that you are interested in. Become active in educating others on important issues and volunteering to support groups and individuals who need help. Seek ways to improve humanity by supporting environmental concerns and groups. Stop blaming and start acting.

We live in a complex world. The world needs more love, not hate. We need more solutions and fewer blame games. Hope comes from experiencing acts of love, goodness, and kindness and a sense of justice while progressing towards a goal. The government is here to serve the people; governments are responsible for navigating a sea of multiple crises and setting a better course. Governing is no easy task. They will need our support. We have to make the best of what remains without resorting to blame games.

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