Ontario 2011: the “meh” election | #VoteON #onpoli

49.2 percent turnout.

An all-time low.

Plenty of time to get into the left and right and up and down and labels later, but if this isn’t a sign that the system isn’t working, I don’t know what is.

I don’t pretend to understand why we’re facing such alarmingly low levels of civic engagement, and in the interim I’m resolved not to descend to my usual sanctimonious hectoring about the obligations of citizenship (Arab Spring comparisons, anyone?), but dash it all. This is not the sign of a healthy democracy.

We’ve got a problem here.

We can talk about cynical and shallow campaigns. We can talk about manufactured narratives. We can talk about reclaiming conservatism from the teabaggers. We can talk about authenticity and misdirection and messages that don’t resonate until we’re blue in the face, but whatever we’re doing, it isn’t working.

I’m not going to go into mind-numbing detail about the dysfunctions and disfiguring effect of our antiquated and sclerotic First-Past-The-Post system here, but in that regard, a couple of suggestions:

This isn’t just part of a conversation we need to have. This needs to be at the top of the agenda. If people aren’t even motivated to get out and vote, there’s not much point in talking about improving democratic governance.

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