Friday, November 1, 2013

A Modern Political Party

If we agree that our political system is broken--that it is ancient and plagued with loopholes and redundancies, that it serves a small group of individuals who are not accountable for their actions and decisions--and want change, how should we proceed? If we listen to Russell Brand, we will abstain from voting and... then what? Sit around waiting for a revolution? This is the same passive approach that perpetuates our current paradigm. Unless we want to repeat the past, we have only one option: get involved. In a representative democracy, that means voting.

The question then becomes: who should we vote for? What political party is attempting to reduce corruption, increase voter turnout, and modernize our government? The answer, sadly, is none.

There are glimmers of hope here and there. MP Kennedy Stewart's motion 428 is certainly a step in the right direction. Likewise, Justin Trudeau's call for more transparency inspires hope. Transparency is the best weapon against corruption; eliminate all the hiding places and politicians will have no choice but to behave. Trudeau and his Liberal party may only be revealing their expenses to the public but it's a step in the right direction.

Aside from these two examples, political parties are pretty busy slinging mud at each other, presiding over witch trials, trying to disband the senate, building oil pipelines or fracking (to the detriment of our environment), cutting funds to education and the arts, and negotiating Internet censorship behind closed doors. Canadians, having elected their so-called representatives, sit idly by and watch these episodes unfold. Is it any wonder people don't believe in democracy anymore?

I started by telling you to vote, then proceeded to tell you that the political party of our choice doesn't exist. What gives?

One potential solution is to start a new political party dedicated to the neglected issues listed above. Our mandate would be to eliminate corruption, modernize our system, educate the masses on key issues, increase participation, and actually represent the people. Below you will find a general outline of how such a party might operate. It's only a  skeleton, meaning it needs to be fleshed out by people who are smarter than I. You'll note that my outline says nothing about social policy: that's because such talk should be driven by voters, not politicians.

The Power of Crowd-funding

We've only just begun to realize the full potential of crowd-funding. Websites like Kickstarter have helped raise funds for video-games, TV shows, movies, and more. Now it's time to apply this idea outside of entertainment. Dan Carlin recently alluded to crowd-funding as a tool for political and social change and I couldn't agree more. The creation and implementation of a sociopolitical crowd-funding website ought to be one of our first steps as it would allow our supporters to donate their time, knowledge, expertise, and most importantly, their votes. Love our cause but can't afford to donate money? No problem. Come donate your time! Help out at your local office, canvas your neighborhood, or spread the word on message boards and social media. You don't even have to leave your home to contribute!

Political Facebook

Social media is everywhere. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. But where's the sociopolitical media at? The development of a political Facebook would help with a variety of our goals. Log on and read about what each political party is working on, which motions they are supporting, where they get their donations from, and how they are spending their funds. This site could serve as the foundation for online voting as well. Imagine you are provided with a secure PIN, allowing you to vote at every level of government--from municipal to federal--with the click of your mouse. Online voting may not be technologically viable today but it should be implemented as soon as the experts deem it safe and secure. Modernizing democracy means making it widely accessible, simple, and transparent. A secure sociopolitical Facebook would give the public easy access to the parties, their members, agendas, and past stance on key issues. It would also provide a centralized forum for political discourse. Add to this the ability to vote and you have what I call a Game Changer.

Repackaging Politics

The above suggestions--crowd-funding and sociopolitical media--encourage and facilitate participation but they do not make politics interesting. In order to do that, we should take a page from reality TV. Now before you get incensed and close your browser, take a deep breath. What you just had is called a knee-jerk reaction and it's typical when faced with new and unorthodox ideas.

I don't mean that we should have weekly eliminations, elaborate contests, or night-vision cameras spying on secret lovers on Parliament Hill. I'm only suggesting that we package political discourse in a way that is, once again, accessible to the masses. Envision a weekly TV show complete with its own hosts (smart, funny, and representative of the full spectrum of political views in our nation) and guests (experts, celebrities, and of course politicians). This show would serve a variety of purposes, from educating the masses on political issues to exposing people to the views of others. It could also serve as a platform for weekly televised debate, something which should be at the core of our political system.

If you think that this approach would cheapen politics and make a spectacle of democracy, I invite you to read the news. Politicians and their unscrupulous behaviour have already cheapened politics. They've drawn the attention away from the management of our country and drawn it instead to their own corrupt, dishonest, and hilariously ineffectual ways.

Televising their shenanigans couldn't possibly worsen the situation. And at least we'd get some good ratings!

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