Editorial – As the dust settles

Jeff Burgar

The saying sort of goes, “People usually get the government they deserve.”

The source for this saying runs from the biblical Book of Judges to Socrates, to Toqueville. People not only cannot not agree where the saying comes from, they also argue what it means!

Some say, if people don’t care enough to vote, they have themselves to blame if a bad government takes office.

Others argue, if people are complacent about their leadership, not really caring what goes on above their heads, soon enough bureaucrats and even dictators take over.

Basically, arguments boil down to saying it is not the dictator or tyrant to blame when things go bad. It’s the public, through their inaction, or even their action in choosing wrong sides, which allows the events that finally, allow bad things to happen.

So, as this newspaper said last week, when one has a reasonably decent government, as was the case in both Big Lakes County and Town of High Prairie before the election, it isn’t likely many people will vote for change.

But, when the public is mostly happy with their government, it is less likely the majority of the public will turn out to vote. Happy people usually stay home. Which of course, easily results in “bad government” taking over from “good government.”

A cynic can say, “Ah ha! That just proves the saying. People too lazy to vote deserve bad government!” Which is like saying, if you don’t exercise the privilege of voting that wars were fought over, and for which people have died, you really deserve anything bad that comes your way. Ouch!

So basically, no matter how hard you try to live a “good life,” [whatever that means], pay your dues, are charitable, volunteer lots, raise good children, don’t have any bad habits [whatever those might be], and try your best to be an upstanding citizen, well, if you don’t vote you deserve bad things coming your way.

This may be true. Voting is not the most popular of things to do on a rainy, sunny, cold, hot, windy, wintry or beautiful day. Indeed, it is probably much more important than most of us figure.

Not voting can indeed lead to troubling times. Troubling times, in the sense that unrest in the cities and countryside festers. Finally, people become disenchanted with their leaders.

Alberta’s last election, which remarkably swept in the New Democrat government of Rachel Notley, was more about sweeping out the inept, incestuous, pork-barreling cronyism leadership of the Conservatives. Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of a Washington outsider, Donald Trump, was based on “draining the swamp” that has average Americans seeing the rich get richer, and everyone else get poorer.

There are governments everywhere that are good, bad, and very often, so new the jury is still out on them. It still has to be affirmed – you only have yourself to blame, whether it be your vote, or your silence in coming years, if your elected government turns out to be the best, not the best it could be.

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