Lee Friday – October 21, 2018
The London Free Press reports that election “sign vandalism is much worse this year compared to the 2014 campaign.” Curious. Why is this happening? Are these indiscriminate acts of hooliganism, or are they expressions of frustration with the political process? Either way, I am always opposed to the destruction of private property.
However, as the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer (Global Report, p 39) reveals, most Canadians distrust their government, so it may be helpful to understand how political frustration could be a motivating factor behind these acts of vandalism. In no particular order, let’s review just a few of the reasons why some Londoners may be frustrated with their municipal government:
Politicians express concern about an insufficient supply of affordable housing, while supporting policies which limit that supply. See here.
Economically counterproductive land use planning by City Hall. See here.
Council approval of business licensing regulations supposedly intended to improve the safety of sex workers, but which in fact makes them less safe. See here.
The failure of City Hall to obey its own licensing regulations for residential rental units, to the severe detriment of one of its tenants. See here.
An arrogant political attempt to convince residents they actually possess decision-making power and the ability to shape their own neighbourhoods. See here.
Council approval of the bus rapid transit project (BRT) despite opposition from constituents. See here.
And the list goes on. Clearly, Londoners have many reasons to be dissatisfied with City Hall. Citizens are beginning to realize that it does not matter who they vote for because politicians follow their own agenda after they are elected. Therefore, many citizens don’t bother voting because they believe it is a waste of time. They are correct. As Professors Gilens (Princeton University) and Page (Northwestern University) noted in a study titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”:
. . . Clearly the median citizen or “median voter” at the heart of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy does not do well when put up against economic elites and organized interest groups. The chief predictions of pure theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy can be decisively rejected. Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all. . . .
The conclusions reached by Gilens and Page refute the mantra espoused by politicians and their mainstream media cheerleaders, who constantly encourage us to “get out there and vote” because “Every vote counts” and “You must do your civic duty” and “Voting is a sacred democratic privilege, not to be taken lightly” and “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the result.”
These are great catchphrases, but they are all bogus, as a growing number of citizens have come to realize. Voter turnout in London’s 2014 election was only 43%. A majority of Londoners decided that voting was not an effective use of their time.
People are becoming more aware that their tax dollars are being used to satisfy the desires of special interest groups, including the highly paid government bureaucracy itself. This creates frustration among the citizenry, a frustration which intensifies with every arrogant, patronizing word uttered by incompetent, wasteful politicians.
When our votes change nothing, and our voices are not heard, we should not be surprised if a few disgruntled citizens decide that the only way to express their frustration with the political process is to vandalize some election signs. To be sure, we do not know if this is the reason behind the destruction of any of these signs. And, I will say it again, the destruction of private property is wrong.
However, food for thought.
(Picture source: The London Free Press)