The Toronto radio station we listen to while in Canada (we spend half the year there, husband Paul's legal residence and half in Arizona, my legal residence) played political commercials from the Ontario Electoral agency several times a day for the 6 weeks campaign period with the message that a person who did not vote was letting others speak for him/her (hir). The two versions each had a character intruding into a conversation between 2 parties and giving answers for the one with the justification that since the person hadn't voted in the last election, it was quite reasonable that this politically minded interloper should speak for the non-voter under the present circumstances - one being to the dentist assuring him/her that the non-voter could easily do without anesthesia for a tooth removal and the other to a prospective employer with numerous pieces of information about the non-voter job applicant. Many listeners may have found these commercials amusing, at least the first or second time they were heard. However, very few likely considered the irony of the commercials - that voting for any government official is precisely giving them permission to both speak and act for the voter every time they fulfill their government function.
Towards the end of the fourth week of campaigning, the small free newspaper from Bancroft Ontario that is put in our mailbox each week - and which we only get just before the new one is published - ran a letter from a disgruntled area resident about the referendum question. Rather than paraphrase Winston Ralph from Bancroft and run the risk of misinterpreting him, I will include his entire short letter:
To the Editor:
Forget the mixed-member proportional voting system. It will pull Canada down like the constitution has done.
The Ontario election will once again see the victors grab the reins of power from the loser and all will continue as before.
Sorry Tory leadership promises and haltin' Dalton's pouring out money are only election gimmicks and the NDP will Never Do Proper.
Since 1990 the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP have governed Ontarion and all three have fumbled badly.
Our local candidates are usually people of integrity, but the leaders are wealthy lawyers.
Why vote for people we have no affinity with?
We are told don't let others speak for you and if we wish for a change we must vote. But, the governing party does what most people detest.
There is no document, book or stone that commands us to vote, so I'll refrain.
Let us pray for the leaders, they sure need it.
In an editorial running in that same issue of Sept 28 2007, one of the publisher Osprey Media staff, while trying to drum up attendance at an all-candidates forum, spouted the typical condemnation of non-voters, "But if you are one of those who want to fire the lot of them, your chance to do so comes on Oct. 10 when every person over the age of 18 has the opportunity to make their feelings know[sic], if they choose to do so. We already have at least one person in the readership of this paper that has gone on record and decided that others will make the decision for him."
After I read these items, I showed them to Paul who found them - in addition to the often played radio commercials - just the inspiration for a letter to the editor himself. (Being technically a visitor to Canada and not a legal resident, I did not think it prudent to voice my opinion in print regarding government practices there.) Unfortunately because we did not get the Sept 28 issue until Oct 3, the response Paul made by email was not received in time for the Oct 5 issue, the last before the Oct 10 election. However, Paul's full letter was printed in the Friday October 12 issue, with the title "In support of not voting".
To the Editor,
The letter of Winston Ralph in your Sep 28 issue, was a welcome change
from all the radio commercials urging Ontarians to vote for one party or
the other. My message is to add another important point to Mr Ralph's
message, relating to the several commercials that are incessantly tell
us how if we do not vote, we are allowing others to speak for us. The
irony of these commercial messages (likely not even seen by those
writing or approving them) is that if you vote, then you are
specifically requesting that the candidate for whom you vote should
speak for you. Even worse in Ontario (and for every other parliamentary
system in Canada) with its system of required loyalty of all party
members to follow their leader, rather than independently try to
represent their constituents, by voting you are actually requesting and
sanctioning the winning party leader to speak for you. This makes a
mockery out of the very meaning of democracy (rule of the people) and in
this age of the Internet, I maintain that it is long past time that all
civilized countries should abandon all forms of representational
government to instead institute some form of voting of the whole
population on all legislation. Thirty years ago I coined the phrase,
Direct Electronic Democracy, for this kind of system. Under this
arrangement the current "representatives" could be elected in the same
way as now, but their function would only be to organize and coordinate
legislation and programs for approval or disapproval signified by
majority of all voters. This would be far from perfect particularly
since the tyranny of the majority over the minority could still be a
problem, but it would be far better than the current 5-year tyranny of
the winning party leader over the entire population if he gains a
majority of the seats.
As Paul pointed out in his letter, the technology exists for any resident within the jurisdiction of a government to make hir own views known on a subject considered currently as within the purview of that government. With each person speaking for hirself by way of the vote s/he casts on individual matters, s/he truly represents hirself. In addition, the current information technology is sufficient for each voter (rather than a representative in a congress, legislature or parliament) to become knowledgeable in order to decide on the continued existence or new creation of agencies of the executive branch of the government. Each individual is far more capable of determining the value to hirself (and dependents) of any particular legislation - which includes the cost of money taxed away by government to pay for the enforcement and bureaucracy involved - than is any politician currently elected to make such decisions.
Politicians will not easily surrender their power of decision making over the multitudes in a geographical area. They will likely use all sorts of reasons why they are better suited to have the responsibility for other people's lives and property, but it all boils down to the fact that each of them wants to have power over others both to make decisions for others and to force others to act in certain ways. Some will want this power because they crave the status that such a position has - the fact that so many others will seek them out for advice and/or favors. Others want this power because they think that the vast majority of individuals are incapable of making decisions that are in their own best interest and that since conflict between personal subjective interests is inevitable, wise persons such as they should make the decisions that are in the overall best interest of the group. There was in the distant past some logic to this latter reasoning, when most people were so preoccupied with simply finding or producing enough to eat and maintain shelter from the elements, and social communication was so rudimentary, that anything beyond the scope of the immediate future and surroundings was best left to the developed expertise of the tribe/town elders.
The simple government arrangement that was the original plan of the US founding fathers, to be managed by part-time elected officials, soon started down the road to the leviathan it has been for at least 70 years, mostly since Franklin D Roosevelt created numerous federal agencies to take the place of individual choices, actions and responsibility. The complexity of government is one of the main excuses that will be raised for why it takes experts - otherwise known as politicians and/or bureaucrats - to keep everything in order. However, even if a person thinks that an orderly society can not exist without a government, s/he will likely agree that the advancement of the Internet now makes it possible for a large majority of the people in developed countries to be highly informed about almost anything of interest.
With the information already available, and more becoming available as government hiding of information is curtailed, the next step is for each person to represent hirself. I and Paul think of this advance to self-representation as a logical stepping stone down the path to a society without government at all - a society based on social meta-needs, implemented through a social contract and social preferencing, as described within the Self-Sovereign Individual Project.