Crawl Across the Ocean

Monday, September 08, 2008

Things You'll See During An Election: Part 1

#1: Trivialities

There is a sense in Canada that both the media and the citizens have an obligation to care about politics in general, and elections in particular. The reasoning is that the policies enacted by the government have important impacts on people's lives and since we shape these policies through (among many other, often more important ways) the votes that we cast during an election, we should attempt to make an informed decision.

However, it requires some effort to try and determine both what set of policies are best and which vote will likely result in the closest approximation to said policies being enacted. Additionally, many people find discussion of policies and their impacts quite boring.

Faced with this situation, the media and the citizens generally respond much like a group of schoolchildren tasked with homework who would prefer instead to gossip about their classmates and teachers.

To take just one example, City TV (Vancouver) was running a poll this morning on which politician you would most like to have as a friend on facebook. Less obviously, but just as trivially, you will see endless coverage of tactics and strategy and much forecasting of results, almost none of which has any bearing on which policies will bring the best results or how citizens should use their vote to encourage good policies to be enacted.

Of course, the one difference between students gossiping and the media focusing on politics related trivia is that the students are under no illusions that gossiping is getting their homework done, whereas much of the media actually seems to believe that polls about facebook friends and the like actually discharges their duty to cover politics and inform citizens in a responsible manner.

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  • I do wish they'd leave the whole "strategy sessions" thing to the wonks and fanatics and just stick to who has what policies and how they might work; but speaking as a strategy wonk, please excuse the idiot grin as we wander into elections on each side of the border.

    I'll apologize in November. 8)

    By Blogger Thursday, at 11:25 PM  

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