I was ten years old on New Year’s Eve, 1999. I started dozing off before the clock struck 12 to ring in the New Year, and as the Sandman sprinkled his magical sand over my eyes, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time I’d be awake. Seriously, anyone who’s lived through 1999 thought at some point the world was ending. In some ways, the world did end; that is, a version of the world had ended that night. The world has been changing and evolving at light-speed for over two decades. At the start of the century, technology took over the world by storm, and industries eventually started adapting to the change one after the other: telecommunication, automotive, financial, energy, and construction. Nowadays, there isn’t a turn you make without seeing technology’s influence.
Change is an inevitable act, and time and place are two of its most significant influencers. One may be able to control or limit change for some time, but there is no way to stop change. Eventually, everything changes because of the countless variables that influence our lives. However, some dinosaurs just haven’t taken the hint yet. Two of the oldest institutions – religion and politics – have reluctantly accepted the new millennia and its fast-paced transformation. Let’s set religion aside today because I have no energy for that beast right now.
Despite the baseless and empty campaign slogans, “Change we can believe in,” “Forward,” “Time for change,” and “Choose forward,” the only step forward politicians have taken is toward the golden handcuffs lobbyists hold up once they win an election. You can say, “But Hazar, the recent government increased child care benefits, seniors’ pension, etc…” Sure. But what about meaningful change, like electoral reform? What about the difficult questions like sustainable infrastructure for a growing population, an immigration policy that can accommodate this fast-changing world, simplified tax policies, etc.? Why is it that every politician campaigns for change and delivers inspiring and breathtaking speeches that deserve standing ovations, only to end up cowering behind political correctness to avoid taking accountability for their reluctance to change anything meaningful? More importantly, why are we still confined to two major parties that resemble two cats chasing after each other’s tail? Today’s Sunday Preach is about an archaic establishment refusing to change and make room for diversified ideas.
1 or 0? The world was once binary
Politics has traditionally been a two-way thinking, two-player game. You were either for or against, with us or against us. It makes sense that Canada would adopt such a political framework 153 years ago. Some factors that made this framework possible:
- Smaller world;
- Less racial diversity;
- Limited access to travel (lax borders);
- Less immigration;
- Less development;
- Little advancement / no technology;
- Little-to-no networking;
- Limited access to education;
- (More) violent and flagrant social/civil inequalities;
- Immobility due to fixed jobs;
- Live-to-work mentality;
- Religious and traditional influence;
- Primitive media; and
I would argue that ignorance was possibly every politician’s deadliest weapon against their constituents before the tech era. Imagine how easy it was for an individual to target their opponent in a world where there were no Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (I can’t believe that some of you fetuses have to imagine a world without social media – I’m so old). Furthermore, a smaller world meant there were fewer priorities to worry about, unlike today. During the pre-tech days, one could argue that jobs, taxes, groceries, and immigration were the focal point of every conversation at the family dinner table. Occasionally, the topic of marginalized people and inequality came up (Bob Rae days), but people were not exposed to those kinds of issues long enough to build empathy. So it was easy to decide whether to vote for the Liberals or the Conservatives (the latter has changed its name so many times over the years but remains the same, old, withering party just like its counterpart). One’s character, and the racial slurs or stereotypes they made, was a nonissue because:
a) Canada was predominantly a white population (it still is, but other things have changed); and
b) Canadians’ priorities were limited to:
- Needing jobs;
- Needing immigrants for jobs they didn’t want to do (or couldn’t do);
- Needing a low cost of living, and for the love of God;
- Needing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) abolished (damn you, Prime Minister Jean Chretien)!
So really, before technology monopolized the world, voting was just a matter of answering these questions:
- Will this political party deliver more jobs or not?
- Will this political party bring more immigrants or not?
- Will this political party balance the budget or will the budget balance itself? (Lol, shut up, it will never get old)!
- And will we finally stop paying the damn GST?
If the answer was no to any of these questions, you voted for the opposing party. Simple. The little fish like the Green Party of Canada and New Democratic Party were insignificant and promoted boring and non-impactful ideas. To put it simply, nobody gave a sh!t about Global Warming or free-education-for-all because the former hadn’t impacted anyone directly, and the latter wasn’t crazy expensive.
Y2K: The global boom
A petty and jealous frenemy stole my Talking Nano at a sleepover at the turn of the century. Whatever, I’m over it. The point is that technology was as high commodity for children as it was for adults. Reader Rabbit, Neo-pets, and email changed the way we learn. The move from paper to digital played an intricate role in preserving archives and material. More importantly, I’d say our ability to virtually travel beyond the boundaries of our small and uneventful town is what catapulted technology’s growth. No one could have anticipated just how thirsty we were for knowledge, not even Big Tech. However, every change comes with a price:
The more information we absorbed, the more overwhelmed we were. The more possibilities we identified, the more overwhelming it was to make a decision. The more overwhelming it was to make a decision, the more we felt like we had less control. The more we felt like we had less control, the more likely our emotions got the better of us; check out, Would you kill your mother for toilet paper.
Political parties recognize the risks of overhauling their model; diversified thinking in a political group still requires a basic foundation of commonalities to be considered a “group” or “party,” otherwise everyone would just be an independent politician. The issue is, how does one rebuild that foundation to permit diversity of thought within the limitations of a party’s mandate? The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) experienced this after Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned from his position as Prime Minister in 1993, leaving Prime Minister Kim Campbell to take the political beatings. It seemed as though the CPC had succeeded to rebuild and reunite its supporters for a while. Then “technology” caught up to them and changed the social fabric yet again. On the other hand, the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) seem to be under the illusion that they’re the “progressive” party and don’t need to change at all because they’ve always been advocates for change, just like their sorry-excuse-of-a-slogan. Unfortunately, the LPC is nothing but a tiny Chihuahua – all bark and no bite – trapped in a monstrous tech bubble that won’t stop growing, won’t stop exposing its flaws. LPC politicians say the right words but follow it up with little to no action. The LPC is only good for those superficial policies: you want more money? You got it… right after you pay those additional, complicated taxes!
Two sides, same Coin
As different as the Liberals and Conservatives claim to be, they still serve the same unchanged system. The political system designed to develop our country’s policies is still very much binary and right and left thinking. As the country grows and welcomes new cultures and perspectives, it’s apparent that life isn’t so linear. Conservatives and Liberals need to accept the fact that their archaic model is dying. They need to adapt to this changing world by expanding their political framework and be more open to views that don’t typically fall under the traditional left and right ideologies. The risk of refusing to adapt to change is a dying political party. The CPC – like a gaslighting, narcissist ex-lover promising you they’ll change but then don’t – has been there, done that, and went back to their old, nauseating ways.
Elections are becoming more and more pointless because people are having trouble seeing themselves in their candidates. It seems as though the purpose of political parties today is to give one the illusion of choice. On Election Day, you look down at your ballot to see multiple names and mark an “X” next to the person you vote to represent you. On paper – quite literally – this looks like democracy; behind the scenes, however, we have a single machine operating the same way for the last 153 years, commonly referred to as The Establishment. So which way do you go, in a fast-changing world with an unchanged government? I choose to walk off-course and take the road less travelled.