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How To Kill Your Democracy Piecemeal

Quebec Voter's Manual, March 2007
"I express who I am"
(Quebec Voter's Manual, March 2007)

1) Introduction

How do democracies die? Some die violently, when their country is invaded by tyrannical barbarians. But I claim a democracy can also be killed gradually, piecemeal, from the inside.

I will now try to explain how you can kill your democracy piecemeal, by analysing the official Quebec Voter's Manual, which I received in my mailbox a few days ago.

2) Would you drive your car like that?

Suppose you wanted to destroy all cars, and everybody in them, what might you do? If you were the Quebec Government, you could send a "Driver's Manual" to every single citizen. In this Manual, you might say:

2.1) Driving well is inborn. No need to take driver's lessons, or to read the Road Regulations. As soon as you reach 18 years of age, you automatically know how to drive well!

2.2) When you're holding the steering wheel, concentrate on expressing who you are. Forget about the Common Good; it's all about your belly button. You must express your innermost emotions and your most private tendencies.

2.3) You have rights, lots and lots of rights. The road is paved with your rights. The word "duty" only applies to pedestrians and baby carriages.

Did the aforementioned list sound idiotic? Now go read the Quebec Voter's Manual. I'm unfortunately not kidding.

3) An improved Voter's Manual

How could the Voter's Manual be improved? Of course, I would keep all the facts about how to get registered, where and when to vote, etc. There is nothing wrong with that part of the Manual. Also, the idea of sending such a Manual to every single voter is excellent. (And while we're at it, all technical aspects seem excellent: bilingual, well typeset, esthetically pleasing, etc.) I would also continue to avoid mentioning many things this Manual doesn't mention. For example, it doesn't mention current issues for this election, or names of parties or leaders, etc. This Manual must continue to be above "partisan politics".

In my opinion, being above "partisan politics" is not the same thing as "being disconnected with common sense". Some common sense advice should be given to voters about how to vote. Here are some suggestions for a short "Tips On Voting Well" section which could be added next time:

3.1) Democracies are rare and precious. Historically, most men have labored under non-democratic governments. Many brave soldiers have shed their blood for freedom and democracy. Don't take your democracy for granted.

3.2) Democracies are fragile. If the majority of citizens decide to dedicate all their spare time to entertainement, and to just follow their prejudices on election day, a tyranny is not far away.

3.3) Voting well requires sacrifices. If voting well was as natural as breathing or digesting, all democratic governments would be perfect. You must think less about yourself, and more about the Common Good. You must learn about current important problems in your country or province. You must dedicate a reasonable amount of time and effort to evaluate all parties, platforms and candidates.

3.4) It's your duty to vote as well as you can. How could you drive your car without holding on to the steering wheel? How could you steer your car, without opening your eyes to see the road?

If you think reminding Quebec voters of these eternal truths is uncessary, come with me for half a day. We'll just go in public places and ask questions to ordinary Quebecers. What you will hear will terrorize you.

4) Conclusion

It would be a nice change if the next Quebec Voter's Manual, instead of the silly "I express who I am", said:

"It is my duty to make the necessary sacrifices, in order to choose the best candidate for the Common Good."

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