Friday, October 1, 2010
There's some discussion going on over at Raise The Hammer regarding the appropriateness of incumbents campaigning during commonly-regarded 'regular business hours'. The article can be found here.
I've commented there already, specifically noting the strange take that so many people have about the 'unfair advantage' of incumbents in any election.
Which, not to put too fine a point on it, ignores the elephant in the room: the voter.
If you have an incumbent who's been doing a great job, executed their responsibilities wonderfully, regularly managed to produce exemplary performance throughout their term...then there's no problem, right?
But if you have an incumbent who's not been doing a great job, has not executed their responsibilities well, has performed poorly throughout their term...and they still get re-elected...
...then whose fault is it?
Not the incumbent's for being either arrogant or self-delusional to have run for re-election.
Not the 'system', for allowing this to happen.
It's the fault of the average voter.
Imagine if you will, an employer that continues to either hire or keep on employees who are crap performers.
Because that's pretty much how this situation is framed: the voter is the employer, the Councillor is the employee.
So. What to do?
Take a look at my editorials here labelled 'Civic Engagement'. They address the notion of increasing the 'relationship of engagement' between residents and their City Hall representatives.
The eventual goal is to have people far more involved in their local governance. Not just in the sense of increasing voter turnout (because is there really any accomplishment in increasing voter turnout from 37% to 90% if voters really aren't making informed decisions, but taking a lackadaisical attitude about who they're going to be putting into office for the next four years,people who will be looking after huge parts of their overall quality of Life?), but in actual involvement. It would be reminiscent of the way that good parents do what they do to be good parents; their participation in how they're governed locally would simply become an ongoing aspect of how they live their lives.
And of course, having this 'lifestyle' in place would mean that people wouldn't be bitching and complaining to their hearts' content every four years, because the things they're currently bitching about never would have gotten to that point. See, just as when you parent properly, or you manage people in the business world properly, we'd avoid so many 'bad situations' -crises, if you will- due to the fact that regular engagement with the people in the thick of things would mean that there wouldn't be a 'when the cat's away, the mice will play' paradigm in place.
Now, if all this sounds like so much 'airy-fairy' stuff, and you don't think it's either practical or possible to construct such a wildly radical setup...then please tell me what it is about the current way we do things that provides such -contrarian- hope? Other than the winning-the-lottery-type notion of occasionally electing some really, really good people (with no qualification process in place, no real vetting extant, no way of knowing beforehand whether or not they're actually going to meet expectations) to essentially save our asses.
Because really; wasn't this idea of 'fresh blood, fresh ideas' floated last election, and the election before that, going back decades, when we've voted out the incumbents and heralded the arrival of the green-horned liberators? Whom so many are now urging we turf?
As I said, intriguing.