Comment 43740

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2010 at 08:23:14

I'm not a great believer in polls, even when they seem to reveal support for something I believe in. Mostly because I have little faith in the average person a) being able to process a subject beyond what they want to watch on tv that evening, which team they support, or something similar, and b) their ability to articulate what they've concluded. Snobbery? Absolutely. And I'm sure I'll be 'downvoted' as a result. But my viewpoint in this area is fueled by three elements.

The first is that it's easy to forget that the range of intellectual, emotional and spiritual abilities is far greater (and far more worrying) than maybe the average 'informed' person here wants to consider. For years I could be accused of believing that most everyone was 'intelligent'. Having grown up in a non-academic, yet 'intellectual' household, I -naïvely- believed that everyone had cognitive abilities, everyone had curiosity, everyone felt compelled to delve into what Life offered above and beyond the superficial.

Silly me.

The truth is that, as illustrated in a wonderful passage of Erik Kraft's 'Passionate Spectator' (one I'd dearly love to excerpt here, but it would be decidedly inappropriate), what we have when looking at a society's intelligence is a Bell Curve...and its realities don't flatter the notion that we're all competent in brain-stuff and its concomitant behaviour. (Needless to say, readers here are not 'the norm'.)

The second point has to do with that last aside; what you see here on RTH and elsewhere on other boards is NOT reflective of the 'average' populace in Hamilton. It's misrepresentative, actually. It's easy to assume (especially when you really, really want to believe it to be the case, when you're that hopeful) that what you see here is indicative of 'out there'. It's not. It never is, especially with the thrust of this site, which is essentially civic activism. Which is NOT endemic to modern life. (If you believe this, you really need to get out of your enclave more and talk to Everyman and Everywoman. Good luck with that.)

Finally, and maybe this is the most contentious (I'm laughing as I envision not only being 'downvoted', but actually banished to some hinterland, some horrible place...maybe the property Matt Jelly just wrote about in his commentary) is that so many people cannot be bothered with politics. (Please see my previous point for context as your umbrage takes over.) Most people 'can't be arsed', they have no time for 'all that'. In fact, if you ask these people, I'd bet a pile of money that the pat response would be: 'That's why we vote! To have someone look after this stuff! I don't want to be spending MY time having to make sure the right decisions are made! That's what politicians are being paid to do!!!'

I had a wonderful email exchange with Editor Ryan yesterday. I'm not going to quote from it, that too would be inappropriate, but the thrust of my enquiry was "What do you think voters should be looking for in new candidates this autumn?" Thought I'm not going to cut-and-paste his erudite, informed and, as I expressed to him, 'fit for publication' response, my interpretation is that if you want good government, the electorate MUST maintain a high level of engagement with its elected officials after they're voted in. Period.

From my vantage point, the 'average' person is not currently willing to expend this level of energy. Sad? Yes! Acceptable, if we want a better world? No! But really, in light of how people have defaulted to an 'entitlement' behavioural profile, how many have abrogated their responsibilities in regards to parenting, to families, to relationships, to neighbourhoods and community...should this come as any surprise?

The system is broke. I think we can all agree on that. Maybe where we least perhaps there's disagreement between myself and those who thrive on righteous indignation and want to 'Vote them out!' that I believe the real issue is NOT the poor levels of ability our current elected officials's the poor levels of engagement that so many of our citizenry dsiplay in regards to how they're goverened...and believe not only are appropriate...but their God-given right to embrace.

Apathy rules, folks. Until that changes, nothing really changes.

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