Friday, January 23, 2015

The Friday Video: The Andidote to Apathy

In 2013 just 6.97% of registered voters elected the new bunch to City Council - the bunch that promised more transparent, open government. Only a whopping 5.43% of voters participated in the run-off.

The low voter turnouts aren't because people don't care. It's because they believe that they don't count. 

In today's video Dave Meslin addresses a Toronto Canada audience. Although his examples are drawn from Canadian political culture, they easily apply to the United States and, yes, to El Paso. 

Meslin says that we live in a world that "actively discourages engagement by constantly putting bariers in our way." He names 7 barriers:

  1. City Hall
  2. Public space
  3. Media
  4. Heroes
  5. Politcal parties
  6. Charitable status
  7. Our elections

This video will only take 7 minutes of your time. Listen to it and think about El Paso: a closed, non-transparent City government, a City Manager who clamps down on "leaks", the price-tag on freedom of expression, the lack of news about how to get involved, the message that we can't act unless called upon or chosen, the lack of really bold, creative ideas, the inability of organizations such as the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition or the prohibition of city employees to get involved politically - all while corporations and powers are considered people who can be involved - and the message that we just don't count.

Ask yourself this: Why do we have to ask for information via open records requests? Why aren't records just open?

1 comment:

  1. We need a survey on what forms of media El Pasoans use to get information. With that, the most frequently accessed media can be targeted to encourage voting and civic engagement. As a former City of El Paso employee responsible in part for distributing public information I know we were encouraged to do everything possible to spread the word. Each City Department is supposed to have it's own Facebook page and to use social media. However, I believe we have a huge skepticism among El Pasoans who have seen so much corruption over the years. The native El Pasoans I know follow political goings on very closely via the El Paso Times, and they have intelligent, strong, well-informed opinions. They don't vote, they don't participate. Someone smarter than I is going to have to explain this to me.