Friday 1 July 2022

Holiday Thoughts from Canada

Many folks are finding the events of the past few years and especially the past few months to be weird, strange, scary and depressing. It's hard to process how quickly and how badly democracy has been slipping in the world. It's easy to feel there is nothing to be done except plug our ears and yell "I'm not listening!"

But there are things we can do.

If you are on the side of democracy, realize that voting is like a lot of other things.

Just because you do it once doesn't mean you never have to do it again.

Every election is important, at every level of government, every single time.

There is no such thing as "democracy is safe now, so I can relax". Or, "I trust those running our county/town/province/state/country, so I don't have to think about policy or issues anymore".

Because the person/party not currently in power is spending plenty of time and energy figuring out how to get back into power.

If you don't want that to happen, you have to be on your toes, with your ears and eyes open and your brain engaged, all the time.

One thing you can do right now, even if there is no election imminent at the local, regional or national level where you live, is to make sure you are registered to vote.

If you aren't registered already, start the process now. If you aren't sure if you're registered, find out. If you're going to be out of the area or country when the next election hits, figure out now how you can vote early or from a distance. If you wait until the election is upon you, it may be too late.

And if you know anyone who is not registered, find out why. If you can help them, please help. If they don't think voting is important, help them understand why it is and what's at stake.

If you are unclear on these things, read up on them or find YouTube channels or podcasts which help explain.

One YouTube channel I've started watching is Brian Tyler Cohen, a liberal activist whose YouTube videos are brief, knowledgeable, and well-presented, and whose podcasts are longer but also interesting and I say that as someone who doesn't usually like podcasts. Don't be put off by his video titles; I think he's trying to catch readers' attention. If you like what you hear, subscribe (for free) and like his videos. That helps to ensure his videos appear on more YouTube watchers' screens. And tell your friends. (Warning: occasional strong language.)

On a recent podcast, Cohen interviewed Fred Guttenberg, the father of a girl killed in the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. Guttenberg is now an activist for gun reform in the U.S. and his thoughts and advice are moving and empowering. He explains why it's important to vote at every level for every public office, and what the stakes are.

You don't have to live in the United States to subscribe or give videos a "like", but those actions can help drive the algorithm that suggests videos for YouTube watchers, including Americans.

That's my public service announcement for today . . . which is Canada Day in my country. It's not just a day for me to write about parades and fireworks and strawberry shortcake to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Canada; it's also a day to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a democracy and also how fragile democracy is and what I can do to help make sure it survives.

Oh, Canada! I stand on guard for thee. (from our national anthem)

Or at least I try.



Elephant's Child said...

Sadly we ALL need to guard democracy - which is definitely under attack.
Happy Canada Day oh sister across the seas.

dinthebeast said...

A lot of liberals are really depressed right now as the SCOTUS takes a meat-axe to the 21st century, but, self-care aside, we don't have the luxury of backing off right now. Sure, it looks bleak, but not impossible. Alito and Thomas are in their seventies, so five or six good election cycles and we could have a 5-4 swingy kind of court back.
Truthfully, though, that's a monumental task. But what are we gonna do, not try?
I'm losing my patience with some of the lefties who just want someone to wave their magic wand and fix everything right now or they won't bother voting for them again. What needs fixing is the result of decades of unrelenting effort and billions of dollars invested in achieving the result they were after, and countering that will not be quick, easy, or cheap.
Boy was I ever lucky to have been born in northern California in 1960.
The group Indivisible has the right idea, and they are pretty effective at accomplishing things without huge piles of money or the strings that come attached to them, so I slip them ten bucks every once in a while.

-Doug in Sugar Pine

jenny_o said...

Elephant's Child: I know I'm mostly, if not entirely, preaching to the choir here. But I can always hope there may be readers who don't comment who might be moved to action. Hugs, my chosen sister :)

jenny_o said...

Doug: " What needs fixing is the result of decades of unrelenting effort and billions of dollars invested in achieving the result they were after, and countering that will not be quick, easy, or cheap." EXACTLY. This has been what they've worked toward for a long time. It's time for Democrats to get single-minded about action, not scattered into factions focused on single issues; they also need to be playing the long game like the other party has been.

Diane Henders said...

What a great post - thanks @jenny_o. I always vote, but it's good to be reminded anyway. Hopefully your post will inspire some non-voters to vote as well. Happy Canada Day!

jenny_o said...

Diane: Like I said to EC, above, I think most (or all) of my commenters don't even need this reminder. But maybe there's a silent someone who'll read this now or later and might decide to vote after reading. You never know. I just felt I should put my thoughts out there :D Happy Canada Day to you, too! Ours is almost over; yours is still going, I imagine, with the time difference!

Anonymous said...

Nicely put. While some dislike our compulsory voting in local, state and federal elections, generally people think it is a good thing. I just wish more would vote 'correctly'. Happy Canada Day.

jenny_o said...

Andrew: Thank you Andrew. I agree that compulsory voting is a good thing. I wish we had it and I wish the U.S. had it. I suppose some people question why I am so concerned about U.S. politics, but attitudes and actions similar to the USA's are leaking northward and I feel it's time to speak up.

Joanne Noragon said...

We are raising our voice and fists again, in the street. We must all be at the polls in November, and for all the primaries in between

Marie Smith said...

Canada Day is a good reminder of how far we’ve come and how much is left to do. Voting is so important!

Red said...

Excellent post for Canada Day.

River said...

I'll add my voice and urge more people to VOTE and vote BLUE. Every single vote helps. Democracy needs your continuing support more now than it ever did.
Happy Canada Day.

gz said...

Well said!
Hope you had a good Canada day.

We always vote, even arranging a proxy postal vote for us when an election occurred when we were travelling in NZ ! It is essential.

What is worrying is gerrymandering, changing the voting areas to ensure who gets voted in...and starting to roll out the need for driving licence or passport as voter ID .
With both of those costing a lot(a passport is nearly £100) this is going to disenfranchise far more poor people than it would prevent voter fraud.
And of course they are against ID cards that so many other countries have.

Martha said...

Beautifully written! Your message is extremely important, especially with what's going on lately. We must never take anything for granted. Things can change really quickly! Always vote!

e said...

What a wonderful post! Happy Founding Day to you.

LL Cool Joe said...

Yes now more than ever we need to use our vote. Great post.

jenny_o said...

Joanne: I know you've been beating this drum for years; that's partly what inspired me to blog about it! There are a lot of folks north of you and around the world who are watching and hoping that Democrats turn out in record numbers and speak with their votes.

Marie: Yes!!

Red: I hope it made some difference, even if it's just to one or two people.

River: Blue in the U.S. - yes! (It's red in Canada :)) Democracy is at risk and you are right, every vote counts.

gz: Gerrymandering is truly a concern. If there was a purpose to it in the beginning (in the U.S., at least) it has become a questionable process now. And, wow, only a driver's license or passport for ID? That's really strict!

Martha: Complacency has backfired ... let's not make that mistake ever again.

e: Thank you! And happy 4th coming up for you :)

Joey: I think it was easy to grow lazy through the last few decades because democracy seemed safe in many countries. We're finding out it's not safe at all.

Charlotte (MotherOwl) said...

Happy Canada Day.
I always wonder over in how different ways democracies can work. Register and vote! you say. Well I have no idea of what is registering. In Denmark evryone over 18 on the day of election has a letter in their mailbox allowing them to vote. You do not have to do a thing to get this letter. On the election day we grasp this letter, go to the place told us in the letter (same place as last time normally), answer with your birthday when handing in the slip of paper, get the relevant lists and cast your vote.
I like the simplicity of our system. We always bring our children - it's normally a day off school - who are then given candy at the election place. I was brought along as a child, I brought my children along when they were small, now we go there together. We celebrate our democracy and freedom by passing it on.

jenny_o said...

Charlotte: I think you may have done something to register your children 18 years before they receive that card - registered their births :D At least, the department of vital statistics is one way we get registered in Canada, along with other sources such as the registry of motor vehicles, civic addresses, tax returns, and field work by elections workers. We can also register at the polls but it takes longer and if any information is not in order, it can result in missing a chance to vote. In the U.S. the registration process seems more complicated and therefore it's vital for people to start the process in time, and if they think they're already registered, to check to make sure, in case something has happened and their names have been left off the lists. It's a great idea to take your kids from an early age; they learn by watching!

Mike said...

There are some countries that require people to vote. I'd vote for that in the US.

jenny_o said...

Mike: Yes, I'd vote for that in Canada as well.

messymimi said...

As citizens, it's our duty to guard what we hold dear. Wise words.