Wednesday, November 5, 2008

on Politics and Narrative

What with all the excitement last night I didn’t get around to making anything, writing anything, or snacking on anything like I thought I was gonna. It was a pretty intense evening in any case.

For the first time in ever, I think, I was riveted to the television watching election results. Last night was a great bookend to the US election for me. I remember watching Obama make his first speech, declaring his intention to run for President of the United States. Of course I just knew that he’d win. Well, I can’t honestly say that, but I do remember thinking that I was watching a pretty important moment and that I really hoped that he’d be the first African American to take the White House. Watching Obama’s victory speech was something that I will be proud to tell my daughter, and grandchildren about.

I don’t follow politics too closely, which is something I feel guilty about on a regular basis. As an artist, there is a part of me that believes that I should be doing as artists have historically been doing in society; acting as a social critic, invoking dialogue and change with my work. My art, however isn’t overtly political, and I’m more interested in the narrative, the story than in politics. Maybe that’s why Obama was so interesting for me to watch. There was a narrative quality to his speeches and arguments that hooked me.

Like many people, I wished last night that I were able to cast my vote in the election too; to be an active participant in the story, instead of a passive observer. I’m only sorry that I didn’t feel as much excitement about our own recent election even though I made a point of casting my vote with my daughter in tow, hoping that a change would be made for us.

I think one of the reasons for the apathy and lack of excitement felt in Canadian elections is that we don’t vote for a singular candidate to take the top seat. We vote for the political party and the person leading the winning party is the leader of our country. Our vote goes to the candidate who will represent us in the House of Commons, our decisions on who to vote for (ideally) should be based on who represents our interests the most.

I won’t get into how perverted I feel our voting system has become; with strategic votes etc etc, mainly because I only know about those things, what I’ve managed to glean from reading and listening to the news. As I said earlier, I don’t follow politics too closely, I’m more interested in the story, and with that type of decision-making there’s not much of a narrative going on for me to follow.

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