Plus ça change…

In Canada we’re on the verge of a Federal election and all the parties are going full steam to explain why you would be better off voting for them, while simultaneously avoiding classic foot-in-mouth syndrome by saying absolutely nothing of consequence.

I’ve experienced various elections, national/federal, local/provincial, in two different countries and been an ‘observer’ of many others in nations all around the world, so I think I can consider myself a bit of an ‘expert’ on the process. This allows me to predict the result of this current election with absolute confidence.

Nothing will change.

By that I don’t mean that the current government will necessarily stay in power. What I am predicting is that regardless of who wins, the big picture will stay pretty much the same. Here’s three reasons why – pick the explanation that you like best.

  1. The “timid’ explanation
    Politicians and political parties are about getting votes. To win any election you are basically chasing as many votes as possible and this means that you will say anything to achieve that end. To maximise votes it’s necessary to present yourself and party as being all things to all people. Taking a stand, courageous actions, strong leadership and dealing with real issues are all fundamentally risky activities. So each party squabbles incessantly over minor differences around the central ground and occupies the same middle-of-the-road, say-nothing, do-nothing  territory.  The only cure for this is for someone to actually grow a pair, and that would immediately disqualify them by upsetting someone somewhere.
  2. The ‘generous’ explanation
    When your party is in opposition, you really don’t have access to all the information and financial picture of what’s really going on within the government. You’re like a schoolkid with their ear to the door trying to understand what the parents are really talking about, but not really ever quite fully catching what’s been said. You see certain things that the general public sees, you know a few more things through internal rumours and whispers – but you really don’t know the true picture. All those ‘behind closed doors’ trade deals, the you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours arrangements, that contract for jets that the current incumbents screwed up big time, it’s all outside your knowledge. As you don’t know those things and also don’t have a full set of economic information, you’re forced to make guesses about what you are going to be able to do in power. Then bing! You’re elected, few of your guesses turned out to be very good, so now you have to back-track. The only cure for this is for the current government to let all its rivals have full sight of everything that goes down. Yeah… right…
  3. The ‘cynical’ explanation
    Politicians are not interested in the general public. They really only care about one thing: lining their own and their friends pockets (the two usually run side-by-side for some strange reason). The net result of this is that they only need you and I, the public, at times of great emergency, i.e. when they want to be elected/re-elected. At any other time they don’t even want to acknowledge the public exists and they sure as hell don’t want to talk to them or listen to them. So, having convinced you to vote them in (or back in) to power, they find great comfort and solace in forgetting that the ‘unwashed masses’ ever existed; and go back to work on the next trade deal that will sell off yet another national asset to foreign buyers while they enjoy the kickbacks. There is no cure for this scenario.

Any one of these scenarios ensures that my prediction is accurate. To many people change is something to fear and dread. People say “‘everything could change” in hushed tones as though this would be the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it(TM). My fear is simple; that nothing will ever change.

Now that is a really frightening thought.

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