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Five topics

1) Games people play.

2) Neutralized opposition

3) Exceptionalism

4) Just haven't won yet

5) I protest masochism

1) Games people play.

Some of the "opposition" and other strange people still lurk on this list. When I mentioned that a few people subscribed into the list lately, I got a few more squawks from people who claim I am keeping them captive on my magical list. Also, a couple of obvious fake addresses signed on. Gee, I wonder who "A.Reader@myself.com" is.

One hambone who I have really wished would unsubscribe finally did but for the rest, o bla-di, oh bla-da.

Of course, one of the wonders of the net is that anybody could sign anybody up for anything. I could set tougher security on this thing but I do not think it is really necessary. If you do not want to be here, it is not hard to unsub yourself or set the filters on your mail program.

2) Neutralized opposition

Now, to respond to the FVC Toronto inaction group. I asked where this group is at, really? They listed four things they have done in the last four weeks.

Two of them were events in conjunction with political parties. They could not have mounted these events without the two parties providing most of the resources. A problem with these is that it plays into Liberal propaganda that voting reform is just something thought up by the Greens and NDP. FVC really does need to be seen as nonpartisan.

They also talked to John Cleese. They did not bring him to town, he was passing through. I would love to have met John Cleese too. He is one of my favorite comedians ever. It is also great that he is a voting reform advocate. But what was the effect of this mini event? Who did it reach?

I am having a "dead parrot" type of dialogue, more or less long distance, with the Toronto FVC group.

But they have talked to the candidates. That is the least they could possibly do. I assume they presented these forms to them, asking them to commit to PR voting reform and to getting their "leaders" to come on board with it? For this to be anything more than a feel good exercise for them, the rest of the Toronto PR universe need to know about it. And, about the results so we can then strategize.

But the dead parrot in the room is that they have not done anything about local politics, at a time when some things are going on which are very important to the voting reform cause. This little group of friends should be on its way up to Queens park to talk with Kathleen Wynne about the Alternative Vote nonsense.

They should also be howling about what the city council did last week; appoint a councilor to fill a vacancy instead of holding a by-election. It was also done in such a way as to promote AV even though they did not really use an AV method. I think they held multiple voting rounds.

It is becoming obvious that Meslin and company still have them totally intimidated. He threatened them if they interfered with him putting across an AV system in municipal politics, and they are staying out of his way. If they are doing anything, except in their own minds, they are keeping it a big secret. That is in effect the same thing as doing nothing.

I am tired of the chicken shit! Some time fairly soon, I am going to have to organize a meeting, to see if I can draw together some people interested in taking action about the anti democratic tendencies going on in Toronto government.

3) Exceptionalism

Now, somebody had something to say about "true believers" in political parties. He sez; "slagging people in a campaign office for being "true believers" is silly. "True believers" are what every campaign needs..."

Any intelligent and honest party leader will avoid getting true believers in their organization, like the plague. Their fanaticism will drive away far more support than their efforts might be worth. The biggest collection of true believers is in the NDP and that is a very big problem which I will discuss at length some other time.

Even the Conservatives generally have enough sense to discourage people joining them who see everyone outside their party as evil and who want to terrorize them. Loose cannons need not apply. The Liberals are pretty much the same way, or used to be. The Greens used to have some problems with really whacko types of an eco-Malthusian bent, but I think since Jim Harris and then Elizabeth May became leaders. that has been settled down.

You might recall that FVC has in the past had some problems with zealots within the ranks. I could talk quite a long time about the problems within organizations big and small, when members of it get carried away. Or worse, when they start to develop "exceptionalist" ideas.

4) Just haven't won yet

Now, we have somebody who is worried about a "made to fail" referendum. We have already been through a few of these and the PR concept keeps growing in strength. What worries me, instead, is developing the precedent that politicians can remake the basic rules of the game by themselves and without the public.

Changes such as to the voting system absolutely must be done by public initiative, with the political types getting out of the way. Otherwise, what is to stop the next bunch who gets into power from changing the rules back or in such a way that we are worse off than before? The object of referenda is so that the decisions have legitimacy when seen to be done right.

It was not by some miracle that the New Zealanders obtained MMP. They were willing to fight for it and to not let the elite classes get away with rigging the process. I suspect this is a largely cultural thing; people in most places seem to have more capacity to work collaboratively and to not be diverted, than do Canadians.

I understand the Kiwis used a commission of inquiry model to formulate the MMP proposal. They used a two stage referendum. The political elite fought this every inch but lost.

About the Scots, I do not know as much but I think they also did it by referendum. I do not know how they formulated their MMP. They do have a "parallel" system to avoid parties abusing the system with "decoy lists". They too were able to "explain" the system to the public and get them onside.

The thing which strikes me about the referendums we have had in Canada is not that they were set up to fail, but the failure of the voting reform movement to call out the manipulations. As well, after each loss, public support for voting reform accelerated. So I do not see what the basis is for the statement that another referendum loss would end the issue for a hundred years.

Perhaps it is to convince people to forget about doing things in a truly democratic way, and to accept changes to the rules being done by interest groups behind closed doors. I think some people in FVC want us to operate like an interest group.

5) I protest masochism

There has also been some discussion on this list about protests, "violent" and otherwise. Some people want to start doing "non violent" protests in order to "get arrested" for purposes I am unclear on.

I used to attend some protest actions, mostly to do with attacks on social protections during the Harris era. I even got arrested at one of them. However, I became increasingly doubtful about the usefulness of that approach.

First of all, you do not really get to decide whether your protest will be violent or not. Any time anyone tries to do one these days, the "Comrades" are there to try to turn it into a riot. As well, there are many elements in the police who are pining for a police state and there is little control over them.

Besides, being arrested is not much fun, especially as you get older. I ask whether it would be much more effective to do these things so as not to get arrested, to force the police to back off or be in some trouble themselves. A more effective demonstration would be done by a smaller, tighter group with no loose cannons, who have a paper trail to show that they have a reasonable demand that is being ignored.

The aim should be to make the official who is not granting the demand or giving reasons why it cannot be, to come out of his or her bunker and explain. Any police who are hanging around should have it made clear to them that everything they do is being recorded and that if they attack anyone they will be sued.

This method has been shown to be much more effective that either trying to wheedle dispensations from powers on high, or engaging in futile masochistic exercises such as the "Occupy" group's. These are the real "set up to fail" activities.