Sunday, December 20, 2009

The nad-snapping irony of it all.


Here's Blogging Tory Walker Morrow, getting all yanked about arrogance ...



Yes, Walker ... as a Blogging Tory, you're just the person to lecture us on the classlessness of elected officials giving a massive middle finger to fundamental democratic principles and the will of the electorate.

No, no, keep lecturing ... I need the amusement.

23 comments:

Walker Morrow said...

What the fuck does my blogging affiliation have to do with an elected official snubbing her nose at the democratic process? Complain all you like about Harper, but that's not the topic at hand. If I wanted to fucking talk about Stephen Harper I would have - there's always plenty of blame to go around.

Ti-Guy said...

do with an elected official snubbing her nose at the democratic process?

What part of "representative democracy" don't you understand?

I suggest you brush up on the very real downside of having referendums to take care of every decision. Look at California as a case in point; the state is now ungovernable.

I can't stand it when people suggest referendums for everything, mostly because they only do so for issues they believe an uninformed public will decide in way *they* like.

Walker Morrow said...

I can't stand it when people suggest referendums for everything, mostly because they only do so for issues they believe an uninformed public will decide in way *they* like.

Well, that's not the case right now.

Ti-Guy said...

The specifics don't matter. It's this childish, unsophisticated understanding with respect to how our democracy works; that it just means voting and nothing else. Along with the arrogance of some people who believe their rage entitles them to a greater say in public affairs, it's pretty insufferable.

Walker Morrow said...

Either that, or I just have a love of direct democracy...

liberal supporter said...

I was recently arguing elsewhere with a right winger about the Senate, in which he used the usual "unelected" reason why it is bad. I pointed out that Senators are all appointed by the PM (actually GG on advice of PM), who in turn is appointed by his party, and is not actually elected by anyone outside of Calgary in Harper's case. I rhetorically asked, if "democracy always good, the more the better" is his view, then why was I not consulted personally (along with every other voter) on the crime bills supposedly being held up in the Senate.

He said "direct democracy is mob rule". He then talked about nuance, and though he would not agree that the Senate is legitimate as it is, he certainly did not support government by everenda (endless referenda). The Senate, and the PM and Cabinet, being elected more indirectly than MPs, and that system being more indirect that everenda, provides much needed inertia in our system of making the laws that we have to live by.

There are very few situations where the inertia could actually cause harm, despite the fretting of leaders who prefer to stampeded us and damn the sober second thought. They would have us believe every situation is an emergency that would be better served this way. That said, democracies always have the ability to revert to temporary dictatorship for emergency situations, where the "inertia" could permit a catastrophe. This is the situation in the US, where the President could start or retaliate in a nuclear war situation without any oversight or restraint. This in fact scared the crap out of the Soviets, a dictatorship in every other way, whose own nuclear arsenal required five people, not just the General Secretary alone, to give such an order.

For all other situations, the responsible government model, in which the threat of removal in the next election keeps the representatives somewhat honest, is the most likely to bring about a fair result. Not infallible, but more likely than any other system.

Paladiea said...

"Either that, or I just have a love of direct democracy..."

Never heard of the "tyranny of the majority" have you dear?

Ti-Guy said...

Either that, or I just have a love of direct democracy...

Well, there it is. "My opinion is superior because it's *my* opinion and it's deeply felt on an emotional level. Facts? Case studies? Evidence? Who needs those?"

Sorry, Walker. I'm really despising torture-loving, journalist-murdering-endorsing, science-denying, character-assassinating Conservatives these last few weeks. When they start talking (as they so often do) of ways to circumvent existing deliberative procedures and processes to get the results they want, I start thinking of disenfranchisement much sooner than things like direct democracy.

liberal supporter said...

The thing is, direct democracy as practiced in ancient Athens worked for a time. Of course they did not have universal voting, I don't think the slaves could vote. So with slaves doing much of the work of the society, those who could vote had the time to be aware of all the issues so they could vote intelligently on them. Today, our technology does that work that slaves used to do, and so could theoretically make it possible that the voting public could have the time to be well informed enough to make rational decisions as a group, plus allow for voting on a daily basis on the issues of the day.

However, it seems infeasible that most people today can be informed enough on each and every issue without it being a full time job in itself. That is the whole point. Understanding the issues to make intelligent choices is a full time job. So we choose people to do that job and democracy lets us review their performance regularly and fire them when we are not pleased.

I think wanting direct democracy on certain issues but not all others is highly disingenuous. It is like wanting every person to participate in drawing conclusions from scientific data in topics like climate change, while not wanting every person to participate in drawing conclusions from evidence of torture of prisoners of war.

Walker Morrow said...

Paladiea - sorry, your argument doesn't really work. For instance, if I had said that I love...beer for instance, would you assume that I'm promoting alcoholism?

Mob rule is mob rule. That's why I'm a libertarian, and not an anarchist. I don't endorse that kind of behavior. But there's a difference between mob rule and having a referendum - namely, that of moderation.

Walker Morrow said...

Ti-Guy - begone with you. I've had enough of your equivocating me with other people, merely because they exist, I exist, and you seem incapable of making the distinction. What I'm doing and saying has fuck-all to do with what other conservatives are doing and saying ( in other words, my opinions don't depend on the opinions of other conservatives ). It's a dishonest argument to pretend otherwise.

Paladiea said...

"Paladiea - sorry, your argument doesn't really work. For instance, if I had said that I love...beer for instance, would you assume that I'm promoting alcoholism?"

No, but I would be assuming so if you railed against someone pointing out that there should be checks and balances on how much one should drink.

"Mob rule is mob rule. That's why I'm a libertarian, and not an anarchist. I don't endorse that kind of behavior. But there's a difference between mob rule and having a referendum - namely, that of moderation."

And what moderation would that be? What's the difference between being ruled by a mob and say, a referendum denying rights to same sex couples?

Both are examples of tyranny by majority. We're effectively being ruled by majority opinion even when it comes down to our rights.

Walker Morrow said...

liberal supporter - very interesting point, and one which I'm not sure I can refute, or want to refute. The voting public certainly doesn't inspire one with confidence, some days.

However, I'm still not convinced that the ideas of direct democracy and representative democracy could not co-exist on some level - we're a fairly smart country; I'm sure we could figure something out.

That being said, I think we're getting slightly off-topic. This isn't about me screaming for direct democracy. It's about me screaming about an elected official's apparent disdain for the voting public that put her into office. You know?

Ti-Guy said...

I've had enough of your equivocating me with other people, merely because they exist, I exist, and you seem incapable of making the distinction.

I am capable. I just don't care to. Besides, your opinions really aren't markedly different from the rest of your herd.

By the way, when it comes to Conservatives silence does equal consent.

liberal supporter said...

In the specific case you cite, it is not clear how many people are demanding a referendum. If half the voters in Victoria wrote letters demanding a referendum on the bridge, there would be one. That is usually the reason a referendum happens, a massive public demand, coupled with the politicians not wanting to be associated with the decision either way.

As TiGuy notes, in California, it is a mess. It takes 5% of the voters in the previous gubernatorial election to force a question on to the ballot. A question to negate a law (such as the same sex law) requires 8% of the voters in the previous gubernatorial election to have it appear in the next ballot. In both cases these people sign a petition and their signing is verified some way. So a small angry minority can force everyone else to revisit what was a closed issue.

Voters who vote on everything else and abstain from such propositions are NOT counted at all. So people who have no opinion on the matter get no say, but perhaps that's just too bad. Those who know that they have to say yes or no, often to an awkwardly worded question, can vote very shallowly, not having actually considered the issue in any depth, but simply responding to whoever spent millions on ads for their side.

Note also that in the US, they have voting machines, and millions of voters just hit the "Republican" or "Democrat" button and vote the entire slate, from President through Governor all the way down to the proverbial dog catcher. Those who do so will not be counted as "leave things as they are", so the activist groups pushing their various propositions have a huge advantage. It is like negative option billing on your cable, where you had to call them to stop the extra channels they wanted to tack on and charge you for.

s said...

A little history on this bridge replacement issue:

When Dean Fortin, the current mayor of Victoria, won the election there was no talk about replacing the bridge. (I should also mention that he is a left winger who only won by a slim margin, mainly due to the support of organized labour.) After the election, a report came out stating that this 85 year old bidge would likely collapse if there was a strong earthquake. Without taking much time to study the options, Fortin and the council decided that the bridge should be replaced.

Initially, it was thought that the Federal and Provincial governments would kick in the money for the replacement but only the federal government came through. They will provide $20M, which is only one third of total cost, leaving the taxpayers of Victoria on the hook for the rest. The estimated tax increase is to be around $200 per household per year.

A group to save the bridge was formed (ironically, led by another left winger). Engineering firms were consulted and they have reported that this bridge can be repaired for less that one third of the replacement cost. The mayor and council were asked to open this issue up to public consultation or referendum because of the cost to taxpayers. Fortin has refused, so now there is a petition underway to force a referendum.

The mayor and council are technically correct when they claim that they were elected to make decisions. However, bridge replacement was never an issue during the election. The mayor's refusal to publicly discuss options about the most expensive project ever undertaken in Victoria is something akin to what Harper or Gordon Campbell would do, except that as a left winger, Fortin will be painted as another "free spending socialist" by the corporate media (vs. the "decisive leadership" provided by Harper or Campbell).

Unfortunately, there is a double standard when it comes to matters such as this. Progressives ignore it at their peril.

Walker Morrow said...

Ti-Guy - *Yawn.

Paladiea - you said "And what moderation would that be? What's the difference between being ruled by a mob and say, a referendum denying rights to same sex couples?

Both are examples of tyranny by majority. We're effectively being ruled by majority opinion even when it comes down to our rights."


That's a really interesting point, and it's one that has been raised a couple of times throughout this discussion. Personally, my 'moderation' would be to allow 'civil rights' debates to be left to the elected officials and the courts, so as to bypass 'mob rule' when it comes to those sorts of things, because they tend to get thorny and biased.

But, in the issue that this politician was responding to, it had nothing to do with civil rights. It had to do with building a bridge. Now, I think that is something that could be safely covered by a referendum ( I know, there are always things that can go wrong; but bear with me ).

And so that's the moderation that I'm talking about - make a distinction between the issues that have to be...protected from 'mob rule', and the other issues - particularly the initiatives raised by the political class - can be left to the vagaries of referenda.

liberal supporter - excellent point. I would suggest that California's system might not be the example to follow, as it seems to have become kind of a mess ( to put it mildly )... :)

s - thanks for the background. I actually wasn't too sure of the backdrop on this particular little play, so it's good to get some of that information.

CC said...

Walker opines:

"Personally, my 'moderation' would be to allow 'civil rights' debates to be left to the elected officials and the courts, so as to bypass 'mob rule' when it comes to those sorts of things, because they tend to get thorny and biased."

So, Walker, you're a big fan of "direct democracy." Except when you're not. Do I have that about right?

Walker Morrow said...

Not quite, but that's not terribly surprising.

Ti-Guy said...

Walker goes on and on and on about the thoughts bubbling and percolating in his beautiful mind and then accuses me of being boring.

Walker Morrow said...

Uh-huh. I'm a conundrum like that.

Ti-Guy said...

Ah, shaddup.

Walker Morrow said...

Very mature, Ti-Guy.