Of foul weather and fouler politicians

Manitobans love to complain about the weather. It’s either too hot, too muggy or too buggy; too wet, too windy or too dry; too cold, too much snow or not enough. Granted, Manitoba depends an awful lot on the weather to sustain itself through the year, so some complaints are warranted. Too much or not enough water, and crops will fail. Too much snow during the winter melting too fast in the spring and we’re likely looking at a serious flood situation for southern Manitoba. If summers aren’t hot enough, vacation destinations will not make enough cash to get through the long, cold winters and vacationers will likely go into the winter feeling glummer than Oscar the Grouch.

Having said that, there is nothing one can do about the weather except complain about it. Silent prayers have yet to be scientifically proven to alter weather patterns and so we are stuck with what we get, come rain or shine.

The same is true — to some extent — of politics. No matter who is in the big house, people will not be satisfied. Decisions made at the top of the chain are likely going to annoy — or downright enrage — some percentage of the population, but that is the cost of getting anything done. We can debate these decisions and we can rail against them in the streets but, given recent evidence at the G20 conference in Toronto, there is no guarantee that our voices will be heard and no guarantee that dissent will not be violently repressed.

So what can we do about the bad political decisions heaped upon us by our political elite? While there is nobody that farmers, vacationers or flood prone citizens can appeal to for preferential treatment when it comes to the weather, lobbyists exist for business interests at the political level and this is likely your best bet to affect change in that arena. As the poet laureates of Australia so eloquently put it back in 1990, “money talks,” and if you don’t have it, you’re fucked.

While there are certainly exceptions to every rule, politicians — in my experience — are out for one thing and one thing only: to keep their jobs, their paycheques, their pensions and their influence on policy, so as to placate those who spent money to get them elected in the first place. It is my belief that the most successful politicians of all time have been and will continue to be a special breed of human; one without remorse, conscience or shred of decency, a subspecies of Homo sapiens who can trace their genetic history directly back to the hagfish and who still maintain a number of this bottom dweller’s traits. They are spineless scavengers who naturally secrete a slime so thick that they slide off anything that might prove problematic to them. Few ever truly consider the public good when making decisions that affect those who elected them, and those who do are unlikely to prove successful at their trade.

So what can we do, the lowly citizen battered from above by weather and political decisions to which we have little or no input? We can grow surly with age, cursing the sun and cursing the rain and cursing whichever so-and-so is currently robbing the public coffers. We can delude ourselves with superstition, thinking that if only we do something just so, results will come up in our favour. Neither will do anything to change the course of our days on Earth.

The only thing I can think of to do is to abide what cannot be changed and engage — to a realistic level — what can be. While there is no way that we can affect tomorrow’s weather, we can affect tomorrow’s political climate. Sitting around bitching and complaining without doing a goddamn thing about it won’t get anybody anywhere. There are likely dozens of disgruntled students at this university alone who are walking around right now wearing a DOA t-shirt with “Talk – Action = 0” printed on the back. I’ve never been big on DOA myself, but Joe Keithley certainly nailed it with that equation.

This fall, the City of Winnipeg will hold a municipal election for the position of mayor and the federal government may well force an election, hoping to capitalize on what they feel to be a favourable political climate. This is the only chance for people who are disgruntled with the decisions made at those levels to contribute towards change.

If you are at all unhappy with what is going on at these levels of government and you do not go out and vote, you are better off shutting your mouth permanently on the subject and finding some offs to fuck. By removing yourself from the process, you are placing political action on the same level as meteorological action, above and beyond human influence. Politicians are not gods; they are scum and they are beholden to us for their positions of power. Never let them forget it.

Sheldon Birnie is the Comment Editor at the Manitoban.