Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Of Aspirations and Hopes, Part Four
When I consider this 'new paradigm' regarding the relationship of engagement between residents and Councillors in local governance, what it mostly comes down to is participation.
Thoughtful, considered, authentic participation.
As opposed to the general apathy that rises up every four years, where only 16% of eligible voters do so with credence, where only 40% of those who are entitled to vote do so at all...and where 60% of these apparently base their decision on 'name recognition'.
As opposed to the general disinterest, ambivalence and antipathy that occurs during the remainder of a Council's term, fed by the 'tally of cynicism' towards local elected officials and the political process itself that seems to be the default attitude.
What I envision -my hope, if you will- is a level of discourse, of dialogue so much higher than what currently exists, it would be like comparing an overweight, out-of-shape couch potato suffering from high blood pressure, early onset Type II Diabetes and the nigglings of arthritis with an active person who spends more time on fitness and active recreational pursuits than on watching television, whose resiliency and vibrancy is catching.
I envision a state of affairs where the bar is so much higher regarding general interaction between residents and Councillors that when some real deliberative dialogue is required, when thorny issues need to be grappled with, as the basics for sound communication are already in place, entering into more intense territory is a natural progression, not something daunting or doomed to failure.
Currently, I have little faith in the average Hamiltonian being able to discuss the local issues of the day with any degree of acumen. I would go so far as to say that even on blogs and sites designed to be arenas for informed discussion, ignorance and myopia still hold sway.
As a society, we've simply not placed a premium on a discriminating approach to local governance.
We aren't a discerning citizenry, having seemingly abrogated our responsibilities within our democratic process.
Indeed, we place more emphasis on staying on top of the latest MMS offerings 'culture'-wise, in dulling our dissatisfaction with Life, in procuring our chosen opiate to get us through yet another day.
Being conversant in discussions about the issues that actually have the most impact on our quality of Life does not possess sufficient cachet for us to make the effort. 'We get the government we deserve'? More like 'We get the government we're willing to put the effort into creating.'
So what Mr. London has to say in his essays is formative stuff, lighting the way towards that much-higher level of engagement.
If there's an inclination on the part of residents.