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saitsa15_slider_alberta-340x170To say there’s an election coming soon is to overstate the obvious. Democracy is in a continual flux of electing, polling, or plotting who wins the authority to govern. For those who have endured politics for any length of time, you may have seen it all, but for all the bluster, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

This poster is meant to arouse an apathetic populace to take one of the few civil actions of democracy, and chose the candidate to represent you in government… but don’t you wish that party politics didn’t exist – that the persons competing for your vote would actually represent you in the legislature, rather than represent the partisan politics of the party to which they belong? I’d rather be able to chose from the menu of positions than to select any partisan party toady.

No use lamenting the declining number of voters, or the woeful turnout of younger voters (much younger than me). It’s rather like complaining about the weather, when the real climate change we want is in the house of decision making.

Jeff Zdrale, writes an interesting article, “Can we be political but not partisan?” He noted a politician’s comment in response to a question:

“These are partisan causes and we’re not here to argue politics,” the politician defended.

Zdrale’s response was, “Yes, that’s exactly what you are here to do… You were elected to be political, to make decisions about the ways in which government can best serve the greatest number of people for the longest period of time. You should take advantage of any and all avenues of communication between the people and those whom they have put in office.”

I like how Zdrale put that: “You were elected… to make decisions about the ways in which government can best serve the greatest number of people for the longest period of time.” Politicians and their supporters should remember that; it’s not about their team winning, it’s about everyone winning.

I have been looking for other commentators who share my discomfort with partisan politics. Consider the Ottawa Citizen article, “Union launches political but ‘non-partisan’ campaign.” Katherine May quotes Steve Hindle, long-time PIPSC Union president: “We have not become partisan at this point, but being non-partisan does not mean being apolitical.”

Even Oxford Economics Professor, Simon Wren-Lewis speaks to this in his blog post, “On not being politically partisan.”  He writes candidly, “I do not worry too much about accusations of being partisan or too political, but as ever I’m open to criticism that I’m failing in my objectives.” I share his sentiment since people across the political spectrum accuse me of being on the far other side politically from them if I manage to point out something critical about their political team (insert laugh track here).

I am accused of one of two things:

  • My rightwing friends accuse me of being leftist, while my left-leaning friends accuse me of being rightwing.  This betrays how they do not appear to be able to see the good and bad decisions/positions of politicians with whom they mostly agree, and with whom they mostly disagree.

Or

  • Some tell me that being nonpartisan is safely sitting on the fence and not picking sides. But I do not sit on any fence, and I do pick issues to speak to, to write to, to protest, and on occasions, to thank (I come by this honestly, as I noted in Of Births and Deaths, and the Cry of Justice). Believe it or not, I will vote, as I have in every election since I turned of age. I will weigh the pros & cons, and I will hold my nose and my breath as I vote.

How are you ingesting the political double speak, the sincere intentions, and the need for changing the way we do politics?

If you are partisan, how have you been able to comment on your political party’s ethics – where the ends apparently justify the means?  Are you silenced to the other ethical and moral issues that come along with the reasons that, on balance, helped you select the party/person for which you are voting?

What does it mean to you to be politically engaged – – but not treating politics as a team sport – where there are only winners and losers?  You are not off the hook from being human during the campaigns. May you have wisdom and grace as you face your voting decision – and may you remain engaged enough to pray for whomever forms the government: they’ll (we’ll) need it!!

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