I am interested in pragmatic pluralist politics, citizen participation, protecting democracy and exploring a full range of public policy issues from an Albertan perspective.
Sunday, January 22, 2023
FINDING OUR WAY IN UNCHARTED TIMES
ELECTIONS MATTER BECAUSE OF CHOICES AND CHANGES
ELECTIONS ARE TIMES TO TAKE ACTION
We are rapidly approaching the May 29th Alberta General Election. Elections are those rare times when political power actually shifts from the elected to the electors. Citizens as electors, can actually make a difference up to and through the election period. This can only happen if we are focused, purposeful, politically aware, issue informed, effectively engaged and assertively activated.
Political leaders, party operatives, advisors and volunteers plus local candidates know that at election time, they have to pay serious attention to the issues, attitudes, needs and aspirations of We the Citizens. That is simply because they want and need our votes in order to win and keep or take power.
But there is real political power in our citizenship. Our power over the political system is always exercised through purposeful application of our personal agency. Our personal agency power is never more effective than in the time leading up to and on election day. But very few of us realize this, and if we do, we often do not take advantage of this power shift to citizens as electors.
COMMIT TO BECOME A BETTER VOTER
Elections are about change through individual choices. The world is run by those who show up and engage. Voting is the most obvious way we have to show up and exercise our personal political power. That means you have to be serious about the role and responsibility you have as a citizen.
Unfortunately, most of us do not show up, stand up, speak up, and act up to exercise the power of our citizenship. The chronically low voter turnout at election time proves this point. That can change if voters are motivated in a common cause.
In the 2015 Alberta election, voters were motivated to send the arrogant and entitled PC government a message. The result was a dramatic shift from over 40 years of rightwing government to a surprising election of a leftwing majority government.
In the 2019 election the percentage of voter turnout was the second highest in Alberta history. The incentive of the United Right, through the newly minted Kenney creation of the UCP, was to motivate others who lean Right to ensure the NDP did not get a second term to govern. They didn’t.
What will motivate us to turnout and vote in 2023? For sure many on the Left and Right will be voting “strategically” against the “Other” side. Beyond that, will voters become motivated to be more focused and aware of issues and personal concerns? Will the moderate majority of non-partisan Albertans be committed enough to vote affirmatively in what they see as a way forward to a better Alberta? Let’s hope so!
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY
Will we have to do more than hope better voting will happen this election! Are you ready, willing and where able, do the work of citizenship to help make the change you want to see in Alberta happen? The only change you can be assured will happen is the changing we do about ourselves.
Do you know what you can and will do to become a better voter? That requires that we personally commit to become better as citizens by actively participating in this election and in our political culture afterwards.
The change we are usually offered by political parties at election time is about leadership and promises made based on partisan ideology. The changes many citizens want are very personal and local. They are often specific concerns about public policy issues, individual anxieties, and aspirations about preferred futures.
Individual citizens often organize to collectively press for policy, program, and process changes in government. This common cause approach to impacting change at election time is how positive pro-social differences can be achieved. But this takes leadership and other organizational skills.
AN ACTION FRAMEWORK AT ELECTION TIME
So how can that hard work of thoughtfully and purposefully deciding your vote be done in a logical and methodical way? I think a framework based on Head, Heart, Hand, and Hope can help you determine what is important to you that will help you drive to a conclusion on how to mark your ballot.
WHAT ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT?
What is in your HEAD? What is keeping you up at night? Are you worried about inflation, or recession and job security? Will healthcare be there should you or your family need it? This is obviously personal even though the issues are broadly public policy or program related. Ask yourself, what are you paying attention to and why?
HOW ARE YOU SEEING AND FEELING ABOUT YOUR WORRIES?
Where is your HEART? What are you feeling and believing about the matters that concern you? Do you feel your concerns are on the political agenda this election? If so, which leader, party or candidate is aligned with and focused on your concerns? Do they “get it?” Are your feelings driven by fear, uncertainty and doubt? Or are you feeling confident that your concerns and aspirations for change can influence the narrative, political agenda, and outcomes in this election?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT YOUR CONCERNS?
Next is your HANDS? What are you actually doing to impact change this election year? Are you going to commit some of your time, talent, money and other resources to make your concerns known to those seeking your vote and your consent to be governed? Will you volunteer for a local candidate? Will you donate to a campaign? Will you speak to your friends, family and others in your orbits about your concerns and your efforts as a citizen and encourage them to participate too?
WHAT DOES A BETTER RESULT LOOK LIKE?
Finally and most importantly is what do you HOPE for as an engaged, politically active citizen? Have you determined your answer to the “then what” aspect of the fundamental question at election time? What exactly does better look like in your areas of concern? What do you want to see your government keep doing, stop doing and start doing in your policy, program and process concerns?
LET’S SHARE AND LEARN FROM EACH OTHER
Reboot Alberta will convene some online events for our community to share experiences and efforts to be the change they want to see as citizens using this framework. We will focus on the interest areas in Reboot like health, education, economy, social justice, environment and good government. We can share, learn and even collaborate in pressing for change in our political culture and how we are governed.
How will you let your views be known to the potential lawmakers who are seeking your support in this election? How will you make an effort to make a difference? More on how to do that is coming. Stay tuned, stay attuned and do not tune out! Our democracy is at risk. Use it or lose it.