Saturday, September 22, 2012

Protester or Activist?

     I see a lot of protesters and occupiers calling themselves activists these days, but these people have little clue what a real political activist is. To drop the word political from the term political activist makes you a protester, nothing more. The word activist stems from the word action and although protesting is an important pursuit, to become part of the political process and be actively working toward political goals is what being an activist really is.
    We have a very serious problem in this country. The general public has become so disillusioned with the corrupted main stream political parties that they have stopped taking part in the political process altogether. In the last general federal election only 61.1 percent of the eligible registered voters even bothered. In the recent Toronto/Danforth by election in which I was campaign manager for the leader of the Canadian Action party it was even lower at 43.4% which is less than half the people who could vote did! A lot of people I have met in the Truth movement and in Occupy suffer from the same lack of insight as the general public, in the fact that they strive for political change and yet refuse to become part of the political process.
   The problem with the protest community is the failure to follow through with any one action or set of demands. The powers that be have no fear of protesters and will simply ignore the protester knowing that they will move on until the next scandal. Those in power have no fear and will simply let the police step in if the protesters become a pest. One reason the protester is less of a problem for the politician is the fact that they do not get involved in the political process. The protester is not a threat to him or his power base. Some believe that getting the word out to the public about the things being protested have value, again this might be true if the media were not as controlled as the political process and the public were politically involved, which they no longer are.
    The argument heard most often, not only from the public but also from the people who wrongly think they are activists is that the system is corrupt and all the politicians are crooks, why bother voting when both main parties are the same? This brings us to the big lie, one these same politicians whisper at debates. “To vote for a fringe party or independent is a waste of a vote.” Many also wrongly believe that these fringe parties and independents are no different than the main stream parties, or that they have no real chance of winning. Well that’s what the professional politicians want too. Because buying into that puts you back to why bother voting.    
     Recently a twelve year old girl by the name of Victoria Grant became a you tube sensation with a speech about why Canada should return to utilizing the Bank of Canada. This girl got many views with her message and yet The Canadian Action Party has had this policy as its main platform for years and nobody has paid attention, why? If the people of Canada want to see real change in this country they need to drastically step up their game. Marching in protests, handing out flyers and putting up posters is a noble pursuit, but it does not make you an activist. At a recent protest I had a well-known protester start yelling at me that “he has had his camera broken, been arrested three times and given his whole life over to the cause. So don’t tell me I’m not an activist!”  Sorry no, he’s a protester. An activist would be working in some real way to bring about the political policy that he supports, this is only accomplished by participation in the political process. Besides protesting and educating the public the real activist must get personally involved in the process. This means joining a political party or supporting a candidate at elections. Another method is talking to politicians, in a non-confrontational setting to convince that politician or party that you represent the power base that supplied them with their job. Attending council meetings and writing articles on who does and does not support your cause. Form groups in your community to show that you are a clear voting block that needs to have your considerations taken into account. Or even run for office yourself with your voting block as support.
     There are only two ways that Canadians are ever going to see any kind of real political and monetary reform in this country. You could have a violent bloody revolution where intuitions fail, general mayhem and many people die. Even then there is no guarantee that what you’re left with will be any better than what you have now. The other way is to become politically involved and support an independent candidate or small or fringe party that’s not influenced by banks, corporations or foreign powers.  
     Organizing and participating in protest is an important and necessary pursuit for a political activist, but not the whole game and certainly not all it will take to see the real kind of political change we need and must have if Canada is to be a healthy and happy society.  

Lawrence McCurry
September 22, 2012