Third in a series of articles on the Nova Scotian elections by TONY SEED*
In this, the second “great debate,” the three leaders were asked to address the decline in voter participation. Tories, Liberals and New Democrats joined together to blame the people. It is noteworthy that not a single leader advanced any substantive proposals for democratic renewal. For these individuals, Nova Scotia represented the best system in the world. Incumbent premier Rodney MacDonald touted the great work of the multi-party Democracy 250 project amongst youth in promoting Nova Scotia as the self-styled home of “responsible government” going back to 1758. For his part, NDP leader Darrell Dexter blamed the fact that the assembly had only been convened for a grand total of thirteen days in 2008 for “people not buying in”; his government would make people “buy in.”
In its closing editorial on the election, “Ballot box blues; Not devoted to democracy,” the Halifax Chronicle Herald on June 8, 2009 lashed out at the majority of Nova Scotians who will not or who refuse to vote in the provincial election. The editorial emanates from the fact that the economic crisis and political crisis of the capitalist system are intertwined with a credibility crisis.
Hoping in vain that people will believe their only choice is to make the best of the capitalist status quo, the Chronicle Herald evokes the chimera of what it called “the congenital shallowness of a new breed of voter” to make people believe they are caught between a rock and a hard place.
The editorialists equate voting to “real life” – an act of living: “Mature people don’t approach real life this way – withdrawing completely when they feel betrayed, disillusioned or uninspired. They make the best of it and carry on with their duties. That’s the stuff citizens in a mature democracy should be made of.” Not to do so is to be “shallow,” irresponsible, immature and childish – those who are not “devoted to democracy.”
These metaphors are eerily reminiscent of the ascription of the idealogues of the U.S. empire that the resistance it is facing in the Middle East and Asia is due to “jihadists” who are not “devoted to democracy” and who oppose “our way of life.”
The overbearing attitude of the Chronicle Herald is also tantamount to a confession by the ruling elite that Nova Scotians “feel betrayed, disillusioned or uninspired.” They should not discuss why this is so but blindly “make the best of it and carry on with their duties.”
It makes one wonder who the ruling elite are really talking about and what they are really up to. According to them, only they matter. They present their province and country, their system, their culture as the best in the world. If they were to keep the best for themselves, would we have to worry? But they also want to impose this “mature democracy” and “responsible government” on the whole world and eliminate all those who are not “devoted to democracy” by the force of arms. Thus, it is as if the whole world is just waiting to be rescued by them in order to get the benefit of this best and mature system.
The increasingly low voter turn-out and the fact that the “minority” governments have represented a negative net gain of votes tells us a great deal about the kind of “stuff” upon which our “mature democracy” and “responsible government” depends!
Further, if one were to factually compare the participation rate in recent elections to the rate of population increase, it would tell us that the number of “mature citizens” are shrinking faster than the increasing out-migration rate from the province!
Then whoever emerges the winner – with a minority of votes – will declare that he has a mandate to govern on behalf of “all mature citizens”! Those who do not “make the best of it and cary on with their duties” will be criminalized and face the full force of this “mature democracy.”
The low voter turnout reflects the consciousness of Nova Scotians that their vote makes no difference, because they exercise no control in their life over who they vote for.
It reflects the clash in the society between those who stand for the empowerment of the people and those who both oppose it and seek to preserve their positions of power and privilege.
Within this framework, all the political parties of the bourgeoisie, the government electoral agency, big business, the labour aristocracy, organized religion and academia are terrorizing the people in an effort to force them to renounce their congenital desire for change “and carry on with their duties.” Whichever party is selected by the ruling elite to govern Nova Scotia, there is a need for vigilance. Whichever wins, the situation is bound to deteriorate because the crisis is objective and no party has advanced a program to alleviate it. This speaks volumes as to the necessity for democratic renewal. Nova Scotians must build something new by and for themselves. Now that would be an act of social responsibility.
For Your Information: Nova Scotia Provincial General Elections (1960-2006)
Source: TML Daily, June 9, 2009 – No. 114 and slightly revised by the author for this publication.
* Series on the Nova Scotia elections 2009
• Nova Scotia elections 2009 – There is an alternative!
• Atlantic Gateway: the politics of pragmatism and the elephant in the room
• ‘Real Life’: Democracy 251 and the ‘devotion’ to ‘a mature democracy’
• The Nova Scotia election and the bard Dan Alec MacDonald — ‘tonight, she walks the streets with Yankees’
• The Michelin File: No more deals — Nova Scotians must reject the politics of ‘pragmatism’
• The Michelin File: Michelin’s ‘exemplary citizenship’
• The Michelin File: Drive to empire