Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express Editor

COLUMN: Be part of an informed electorate in 2019

“Information is currency in a democracy”

I don’t think you need to agree with my worldview to understand that the way our politicians present their worldviews is tribal, incomplete and exhausting.

In 2019, Alberta will have two major elections — provincial and federal — and for the most part, everyone is already in their camps waiting for the next faux-outrage to drop on their social media feeds.

Maybe outrage culture is a result of social media, but how it all ends up shaking out is politicians only telling you what their opponents are not doing and then presenting their counter-policies as three-word memes. Okay great.

What people actually need in their daily lives are policies that benefit them and voters deserve to know how their choice at the ballot will affect them directly.

This requires first that politicians provide more detail to their policies and secondly that journalists do their job properly and disseminate policy to show the outcomes.

What we have now is a system where politicians come up with one-sentence policies that fail to flesh out how their ideas will affect the electorate.

For example, “cut red tape for business” is certainly catchy and is easy to regurgitate by even the politicians with the lowest marks in their rhetoric class but how does that actually play out in the real world?

Does cutting red tape meaning removing environmental protections for wetlands?

Does it mean that essential workplace safety procedures are scrapped? Does cutting red tape mean developers have the right to ignore community standards?

Or does it mean cutting non-essential elements of an approval process that has little to no effect on the average citizen?

If cutting red tape means that our world will be diminished — even in a slight way — than voters have the right to know the exact details before they head to the ballot box and this is why policy messaging needs to more than a catch phrase.

Essentially, we need to ask more from our leaders — regardless of theirs or our ideology.

What we are doing by not demanding that leaders explain their ideas and policies fully is letting them treat us as not worthy of the information.

Information is currency in a democracy and we must demand in these elections that our elected and elected-hopefuls pay out.

Just because something sounds true, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t require further explaining. The onus of maintaining a functioning democracy is on the electorate meaning it is on us to demand transparency and fluency from our representatives.

We cannot let people treat us as if we are unworthy of knowledge. If someone you think you might vote for offers an idea that doesn’t present all the outcomes involved — demand it from them.

The idea of an informed electorate is outside the realm of ideology. Right, left, center — we all deserve all the information in order to make an informed choice.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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