We’ve all heard about the Occupy Movement, the nefarious 1% that controls everything, and the 99% that is left in the financial dust. The other 1%, in its undisguised arrogance, is found in our political system.
Today, only 1% of Canadians are a member of a political party. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but these are the people who choose the leader of each party, and by extension the Prime Minister. They choose the candidates in each riding, and they’re the local organizers, volunteers, and donors who influence the entire process. That’s a remarkable amount of control in the hands of a very small number of people.
Each individual has their reason for joining a political party, just as each person has their reason for not joining. Undoubtably, most people just haven’t thought about it. One of the most common barriers I encounter in my conversations with people is psychological. They believe that, by joining the party, they have to be partisan to the core, and are therefore responsible to understand and defend every intricate detail of party policy. I get this response even from dedicated volunteers, people who knock on doors during elections and already act as informal spokespersons for their party.
The broad scope of political parties means they will have to take a lot of positions. As a member, you don’t have to agree with every one of them or even most of them. You should decide what’s important to you and find the party that best reflects your values. From there, you can try to convince others of your views. If you’re successful you can end up changing the party, and perhaps the country. As a minimum, members should be able to explain why they joined the party in the first place, and what issues are important to them. Beyond that I only expect them to have an open mind. One of the most rewarding aspects I’ve found in being a member of Liberal Party is talking to, and learning from, other members.
Decisions are made by those who show up. You may get to mark an X on election day next to the name you like best, but only a select few get to choose the names that are put there in the first place.
For more information on joining the Liberal Party of Canada, or the Ontario Liberal Party, feel free to get in touch with me. Lean more to the left or right? Try the NDP or Conservatives, and don’t forget the Green Party, if that’s what you’re into.