New Orleans We read daily about another global democratic “spring,” and we actually have an election nearby in Canada. Some of you are stifling a yawn!, but it’s an important election particularly if another country can be pulled back from the conservative abyss through a timely realignment. One of the most interesting tidbits emerging out of this election is talk of “vote mobs.”
A fellow named Rick Mercer, a TV personality in the north, caught fire with something he called a “rant,” which upon listening seemed just like normal commentary to someone living in the 24/7 roar of television speech in the USA, about all kinds of groups being targeted to turn out to vote, except the more than 3 million youth who could make a difference. Some people watched it on YouTube and students started flexing their fingers on Twitter and Facebook and joining the call to vote.
Twisting the texting phenomena from a couple of years ago called “flash mobs” where friends would receive and then forward a text saying be at X in Y minutes and do Z, usually something silly in a public place, but, hey, anything to break the boredom of daily life is a good thing, students on more than 20 campuses around Canada started organizing “vote mobs.”
Our friends at LeadNow.ca did a great YouTube video with some students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver that started and ended with a message to go vote in a bottle and then with the Police singing the song of the same name in the background preceded in lively fashion to run around, chase the ballot box, and dramatically make the point that it was time to go out and vote on May 2nd. A “vote mob” is a GOTV rally with feeling.
John Anderson, ACORN Canada’s head organizer in British Columbia, forwarded me an article from The Star where several professors were quoted either affirming or denying whether these “vote mobs” would make a difference in the turnout or were just eager beavers who were already going to vote, proselytizing others to do the right thing. The article featured two great quotes, one startlingly absurd, and the other dramatically insightful.
Tamara Small, a political science professor, wanting to outdo “Debbie Downer” said the following and I quote: “The relationship between technology and voter turnout is that there isn’t one.” Wow! Is that startling or what?!? TV, radio, telephones, computer databases generating turnout lists and targeting, all creatures and features of voter turnout and modern technology, have no relationship to each other. If she had thought for a minute, she would be embarrassed, so let’s not pile on.
Jamie Biggar on the other hand, one of the co-founders of LeadNow.ca had a zinger: “Vote mobs are a way to turn desire into action,” he said. Who could disagree?
In fact turning “desire into action” is the motivating principle of much of all politics, and to tell the truth life itself. All of which makes me root for “vote mobs” and anything else that will get people moving towards the polls, because despite the fact that the key to the right’s success everywhere has been proven to be suppressing the vote, the key to our victories in Canada and elsewhere in the world is our ability to get our people out to vote. When we do so, we always win!