It’s voting day here in Ontario. I heart democracy, and I take my privilege and responsibility to vote very seriously. Even with my love of democracy and my shiny optimism, it can be hard to get excited about elections where we watch politicians backed by wealthy donors ‘win’ a majority government with less than 50% of the vote. Especially when a number of those candidates that will likely be elected tonight avoided all public debates.
BUT. For my mental health, I'm not writing that rant today.
In honour of the provincial election today, and in preparation for the municipal one we will have this fall, today’s post is a more positive democracy round-up: some history, some insights, and some inspiration.
1. The Chaotic Story of the Right To Vote In Canada, an article from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
“The history of the right to vote in Canada is a messy story. Over hundreds of years, countless individuals have fought to improve our democracy and to have voting recognized as a fundamental right. The next time you have the chance to cast your ballot in an election, take a moment to think of all the people who stood up and demanded the right to vote.”
Read more here.
2. A Taxonomy of Right-Wing Dog Whistles, an article by Molly Jong-Fast
This is American-based, but totally worth a read.
“There’s an argument that these talking points are too silly to be believed, but that’s just it: They don’t need to be completely believed to work. They just need to muddy the waters enough that voters put up their hands in dismay and start to wonder if maybe there’s something to this Clinton-and-Russia thing.”
Read more here.
3. The Great Narrative Escape, a podcast by Invisibilia (NPR)
“In 2009, a couple of Norwegians pioneered a whole new genre of television: Slow TV. They debuted with the story of a train traveling from one side of the country to the other over the course of seven hours. Every once in a while, the point of view switched from a landscape shot to one of a mustachioed conductor announcing a stop or collecting tickets. Its airing was a viral event in Norway. But when an American television producer optioned the idea and took it to the U.S., it flopped. It may even be fair to say it was dead on arrival. Why would another country have such a radically different reaction? A look at how America's reliance on plot and hooks in storytelling reflects how we live, think and even participate in democracy.”
Listen here. (Transcript also available)
4. Teardown: 100 remedies for a failing democracy, a book by Dave Meslin
Dave Meslin is an Ontario-based author. I’ve met him, and his enthusiasm for democracy is contagious. This book, for me, was an inspiration for all the ways we can participate in our democracy beyond voting once every four years, from ranked ballots to reclaiming public spaces and everything inbetween.
“Our democracy is failing.
We can sit back and watch in disgust,
or we can take the reins.
Teardown is a recipe for change.
A cure for cynicism. A war on apathy.”
Read more and get your copy here.
So, no matter who forms government tomorrow morning, I'll keep working to disrupt the systems, government and otherwise, that oppress marginalized communities, and I hope you will, too.
I'm Jennifer. I am an advocacy and communications strategist working with multiple charities and nonprofits. And I want to disrupt our sector for good.