Mayhem in the Marketplace
When James Bond sets out to nab a bad guy, the chase often happens in a very public place—a market or a slum—which is then trashed. The adversaries careen madly in tuk-tuks around crowded marketplaces in India. They roar through the Grand Bazaar on motorcycles, destroying product and produce wherever they go. They incinerate housing projects in Saigon. As these highly-trained agents fight it out, ordinary people run for cover.
James and his nemeses are locked in a battle for supremacy. The ordinary people—these market-merchants and slum-dwellers—must simply stay out of the way. Those who hoped to sell their now-pulverized produce are out of luck, as are the Saigon poor. But in Bond-world, such sacrifice is worth it. Good ultimately gains supremacy over evil.
These fantastical Bond-world battles are similar to the historically factual Wars of the Roses. Several centuries ago, partisan English aristocrats spent decades fighting each other for supremacy. Whenever these noblemen and their armies fought it out, the best thing a peasant could do was go home and bar the door. Too bad about his trampled crops. Whichever Rose ultimately won, he probably considered such crops worth the sacrifice, believing that the country was now being ruled by the proper and righteous King.
In our very real day and age, our democracies are wonderful things. But they can easily turn into partisan battles, fought by the occupants of an exclusive political world. When this happens, elections are no longer about good governance, but rather about supremacy. As soon as the main script of an election campaign focuses on the natural righteousness of the one side against the nefariousness of the other, an ordinary citizen knows that his crop of tax dollars is about to be trampled.
We're in danger of this in Canada, and I see it among our group of contenders in this upcoming election. When Mulcair, in his "game on" video, says that he's going to "repair the damage Stephen Harper has done and set Canada on the right path, " I know that he's after rulership, not governance. In his mind, the country must be taken from the unrighteous and recast along his own lines. And when Justin Trudeau, in his liberal leadership campaign says, "The Conservative government is taking this country in a direction most Canadians don't want it to go," I can already feel the unsettling seismic rumbles as he heroically tries to drag the country in that magical direction that we're supposed to want. And when Stephen Harper talks proudly about how he's going to sabotage Ontario Premier Wynne's pension plan, it's clear that, in his mind, the opposition is for trampling, not for engaging. When our leaders talk like this, ordinary Canadians had better take cover. These leaders plan to make sure everything goes their way, even if they have to rampage through the marketplace to do it.
But, as with Bond-battles and the Wars of the Roses, all that mayhem won't matter in the end. Whoever wins the next election will consider the tax dollars they've spent worth the sacrifice, since [insert ideology] is now the rightful ruler of the country.