A response to Adam's recent post. In general I find myself in agreement with most of Adam`s conclusions and ideas.
My major quibble is his reasons for "voter apathy" (a term he finds inaccurate and misleading) as voters who are "angry, depressed, disappointed, revolted" in short, they are alienated.
I agree that "voter alienation" is a better term than "voter apathy". Many of the alienated are truly disenfranchised for all sorts of negative emotional reasons. But I wonder how many of alienated truly are actively disgusted with federal politics.
The "apathetic voter" is a subset of the "alienated voter". I know many apathetic voters. They aren't angry or disgusted or have any feelings for or against the government. They just don't care. They don't care about any world events or anything beyond what is immediate to their world. They do not consume any of the news or pundit media dedicated to political or non-political world events.
Many of these people are friends and colleagues of mine. As a rule, most of the people I know are in this category. Which makes conservations difficult at times. I have a hard time just talking about pop culture, sports, video games. (Like any parent, I can drone on about my kids for hours though.) When political topics do come up, they're mis-interpretations of the 5 second sound bite between radio shows. This is why I blog, to find people to discuss this crap with. It is my belief based on observation, that the online world of bloggers and other online participants is very small minority of the population. When I come up for air from the online political world, I am often disoriented by the completely different interests of the people I am surrounded by.
This dissonance has left me appalled at the general level of ignorance by Canadians about the levels of government that affect them. Finding an informed Canadian to converse with is harder than finding a competent contractor. Or an honest lawyer... Pick your own metaphor.
Most of us can live a very comfortable life without ever getting involved in the "issues". We all bitch about taxes or regulations, but for the most part they do not impinge on our ability to live our lives as we choose. It may be a perverse thing, but genuine voter apathy can also be voter contentment. My life is working well enough, I see no immediate threats, so whomever is in government isn't affecting me that directly. I get that concept. My life has only been significantly impacted once by government action. And even that was indirect. But it was the infamous "Rae days". My father's income was majorly impacted by that decision, I remember quite well the extra financial stress my parents went through during that period.
As much as I dislike Harper, he hasn't done anything to negatively affect me or my family. Most Canadians probably can say the same thing (and also of previous governments too). Unless and until a government causes one to lose a job or a house or something else of significant value, they do not see a risk to non-participation.
Life is a complicated exercise. It gets more so every year. The activities that demand our time and attention are overwhelming. I don't think any adult is ever free of items that could use more attention or involvement. Granting more attention to one area (political involvement) means less of something else (family time, recreation, heck even sleep which is what I should be doing right now.)
As long as we can manage what we can see, we trust the rest will work itself out. And if that means ignoring politics, well its worked for a lot of us so far.