Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy: Why Voting Isn't Enough

Overhead view of the Occupy Toronto encampment, St. James Park (from Torontoist)

Al Gore's book, "The Assault on Reason" is one of the best treatises on American democracy I've ever read. Written almost five years ago, the book goes into great detail about the many ways in which that democracy has been undermined in recent decades, and gives this warning:

"The derivation of just power from the consent of the governed depends upon the integrity of the reasoning process through which that consent is given. If the reasoning process is corrupted by money and deception, then the consent of the governed is based on false premises, and any power thus derived is inherently counterfeit and unjust. If the consent of the governed is extorted through the manipulation of mass fears, or embezzled with claims of divine guidance, democracy is impoverished. If the suspension of reason causes a significant portion of the citizenry to lose confidence in the integrity of the process, democracy can be bankrupted."

This is precisely the situation we find ourselves in today - more so in the States, but also starting here in Canada.

We are brought up to believe that democracy is a pure and noble process, and that government can be a perfect reflection of the will of the people so long as the people exercise their franchise by voting. Unfortunately, the process itself has become so thoroughly corrupted and manipulated that many have come to believe this is no longer the case.