A famous quote rightly points out, “Democracy is not perfect but it sure beats whatever is in second place.”
The truth behind those words resonated on Tuesday of this week when a 44-year-old political dynasty came crashing down to its knees, virtually wiped out by an opponent never before viewed even remotely as a serious threat.
Those of us who live in the province of Alberta witnessed an unprecedented event which saw a ruling political party that had monopolized power, reigned supreme and ruled as it pleased virtually wiped off the map by a backlash of anger brought about by its own perceived arrogance and unwillingness to listen to the voices of those it governs.
While the new ruling party can rightfully lay claim to a great victory which brought them from near obscurity to absolute dominance, and can boast of the brilliance of the campaign it ran and the wisdom of the platform it offered, my own personal belief is that our new rulers did not win this election but rather the party they so soundly defeated, lost it.
And I think I know why. Over the past several years many words have been bandied about to describe how seemingly out of touch the dynastic rulers have been.
The stinging indictments of their performance have included words like: arrogant, cocky, conceited, egotistical, disinterested, detached and entrenched to name just a few but, there was one word that I did not see too often in the virulent attacks on the government and that is the word complacent.
Complacency is the result of repeatedly doing the same things over extended periods of time which can easily lead to inattention to detail and to assuming a sense of being bullet-proof.
Every one of us who drives a vehicle and has done so for some time is and in one piece today is there solely through sheer good luck.
Over the course of many years of driving – doing the same thing repeatedly over a long period of time – we have all taken unnecessary and unsafe risks, have drifted across a lane without paying attention, have momentarily crossed the median into the path of oncoming traffic, have failed to stop at a stop sign, have sped up to beat a red light, have sent a quick text, have driven at speeds that exceed the posted limits.
And we have gotten away with it.
Which makes it easy to believe we will always get away with it.
Some of the times we have done this consciously or deliberately, most often we have done it in an near automatic way simply because of having done it so many times before without incident.
Over the past few weeks I have had the good fortune of having several discussions with clients regarding workplace safety.
These particular clients go to work each day to spread the message of the importance of safety and to train people not only in the behaviours of safe practice, but also in the need for never-ending vigilance.
And each of them told me the same thing; the vast majority of workplace accidents are completely preventable and occur because complacency has taken hold, causing people to take risks that they have done many times before, conduct unsafe practices and ignore hazards simply because having their confidence is high having done so before with no adverse result.
It is only after a person falls off a ladder, slips on ice, loses a finger or two, that the return to truly safe practice re-enters their consciousness.
I believe the same thing happens to politicians. 44 years is too long for one group to rule as complacency causes the same unwillingness to do the very things they know they need to do.
Complacency provides a false sense of security – we’ve done this for years and it has never been a problem so why change now?
With this history behind them, and complacency strongly entrenched within they, they acted without consulting, they proceeded without listening and they implemented without explaining.
As we saw on Tuesday, resentment builds up over time until it reaches a boiling point when, we the people, decide we’ve had enough and rise up and take action by “kicking the bums out.”
I don’t think we voted for the winning party; we voted against who losing one.
That is the absolute magnificence of democracy and is further reason why we are all blessed to live in this bountiful and beautiful democracy called Canada.
There is one amendment to our existing system though, that I personally believe should be hastily brought into law at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.
It is this. We have an inalienable right to vote in this beautiful and his wonderful democracy. We may choose to vote and we may choose to not vote. However the right to whine should have to be earned and can only be earned by participation in the democratic process.
In other words this new law should state that if you choose to exercise your right and not vote, you thereby also choose to lose your right to whine about the government.
In the three days since the election I have met several people all of whom have in the past bitterly complained about the government and were, true to form, doing the same thing this week.
The folks I have in mind proudly point out they do not participate in the voting process and when I explained why I believe the above suggested law should be brought in to be as soon as possible one of them glared at me with a smug look and proclaimed, “How can I vote if I don’t support any of the candidates or any of the parties?”
I, with an even smugger look on my face, explained that if you do not wish to vote for a candidate you have an obligation to go to the polling station, register and then spoil your ballot.
She listen to my words and gave me that special look we all reserve for those occasions when staring directly at an idiot.
Clearly I don’t get it but what I do get is that we are so lucky to live in a country where we have the rights and freedoms we have and can exercise them at will.
A country where we do get to put our X on the ballot sheet from time to time as a way of ensuring that our voice is heard in the democratic process.
And it is our right to do that that absolutely validates that democracy does indeed, sure as hell, hands down, beat whatever is in second place.
Till we read again.