Today I was surfing the internet when an advertisement caught my eye. It was an ad for a contest put on by the Manning Center for Building Democracy. The Dragon’s Den style contest offers a $10,000 prize for the best plan to “strengthen conservatism, free markets, or democracy.” Yikes! I should insert some sort of joke here about hoping their plan for strengthening democracy doesn’t involve robocalling election fraud, but I don’t really know how to. I’ll just leave it with saying I don’t think conservatives are the torch bearers of democracy.
I want to point out is that the webpage I was surfing when this turned up was obviously not one about the New Democratic Party, or the Green Party. It was one about conservative Christianity. It was the type of webpage where a person who could concievably win the prize might be reading. The internet is vast and supposedly anyone can find anything but realistically, even advertisements are being targetted. We don’t need a government censoring us to keep us from seeing opposing viewpoints. New and improved search engines, targetted advertisements and recommendations from like-minded social networks can mirror back all our own opinions back to us. Opposing viewpoints, ideas and information is available but you kind of have to search it out. Most of the time what we just happen to find isn’t really as random as it might seem.
There’s second thing I want to point out is that the Right wing are incredibly, incredibly organized and well funded. I wish the left were better at trying to strengthen… what would I call it? What do the left want to strengthen anyway? I think we should be trying to strengthen critical debate. We need more left-wing analysis of what is happening in the world so people have better responses to the propaganda the Manning Center is helping to feed. We also need stronger communities where people feel like they have the ability to help shape their world, collectively making things better. We need to get organized promoting our values.
I wish I could come up with some brilliant scheme for strengthening democracy. I wish I could come up with some brilliant scheme for making the world a better place. I can’t. I can keep writing letters to the editor (a few of which get published). I can keep writing letters to politicians. I can keep being involved in organizations and I think one other thing I can do is try to help promote some of the good voices I hear, the people out there trying to make a difference. I want to link to a few blogs that I think are really worth reading.
Behind the Numbers
And this one isn’t a blog, but it is an organization that is attempting to create sustained political will to improve things in this world. It is Citizens Climate Lobby.
On a side note, I feel weird about my own blog because I started it after the last federal Canadian election because I felt so discouraged by the results of the election. I thought I’d write more about politics and social justice issues but then I slipped into writing more about what is easier for me to write about: homeschooling. And I started to find homeschoolers willing to read my blog, and that felt a bit exciting. Then suddenly I wonder if I should keep the politics stuff out or separate, but I’m not willing to do that. I want this blog to be a reflection of all different parts of my life, and I want to encourage those who happen upon it for one purpose to be exposed to the other aspects of it too. Yet I know I’ll probably decrease readership of it by doing so.