News of the protests over the latest election in Iran has been circulating the globe, horrifying the international community. However, there is one thing that these protests indicate that is to be desired: political engagement.
In Canada, there is clearly a political disengagement. The voter participation in federal and provincial elections of the last year tell us as much. In fact, many of the provincial turnouts have been under 50%. Whereas, around the world we see much greater participation and engagement with politics and the electoral process.
It would seem that this is a characteristically North American dilemma. In other parts of the First World, and much of the Third World, voters turnout in much more significant numbers.
So what is a characteristic of political life in North America that would seem to account for this disengagement that is greater than in the rest of the world. The answer may well lie in a typical belief in North America that the government is impotent. A particular phrase comes to mind: the government that governs best is the government that governs least.
Now, this is ridiculous, and Stephen Colbert showed as much at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2006 that according to this maxim the government of Iraq is the best. We are not Americans in Canada, it is true, and therefore we may not be as greatly affected. However, the case remains that at least some of us, notably those inclined to take the right-wing view of things, do seem to embody this.
Look at what Harper's done. Cut taxes, and the cut services, making sure government hardly lives up to its name. And what does this do in turn?
It ensures, purely and simply, that this belief is all the more cemented in parts of the public conscience.
So what do we need to do to be more like Iran? Believe in the power of government to be a force for change, instead of a constant source of failure.
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