Rebuilding from a Teardown

My last post wasn’t intended to be about the public viewing of a professional basketball game. I meant for that story to be an introduction to the related matter of the freedom of speech of Windsor BIAs in the larger context of how politics is currently in play in Windsor. And in that story I wanted to bring in insights that I picked up from Dave Meslin’s Teardown: Rebuilding Democracy from the Ground Up.

But then I decided I didn’t want to cloud my positive review of Dave’s work with my take on what I see as the negative political scene in Windsor.

Teardown is not a tightly executed manifesto that diagnoses a particular social ill and then prescribes a strict regime for its cure. Politics is messy and to a certain extent, so is Teardown. Each chapter of Teardown takes on a different perspective of politics in Canada today. Sometimes a chapter resembles a case study, as when Meslin recounts his experiences fighting illegal billboards in the City of Toronto. Sometimes a chapter more closely resembles a lecture in political science, as when Dave explains the different models of voting reforms we could pursue in order to move past the first past the post system. Sometimes Meslin recommends getting involved in political parties. Sometimes Meslin suggests that the current structure of the political party is irremediable. This diversity of tactics and perspectives is not a failing of the book. It is an expression of the variety of the work and the experiences, both in politics and in active citizenship that Dave has shared with us.

I recommend the book and as I am confident that readers will find something that strongly resonates with them (for myself, that was Meslin’s critique of how Canadian political parties organize their get out the vote campaigns). We all know our political system is in a deeply and maddeningly troubled state but we don’t all understand the reasons why as well as Dave Meslin. I also recommend this book because I strongly believe in what I think is Dave Meslin’s overall message: we need to find more ways to share more power with more people. The winner take all mentality of our current state of politics is at the heart of most people’s dissatisfaction and our current dismal state of citizen participation.

The city of Windsor is a case study of a dismal state of politics. We have a political leadership that has no interest is sharing decision making with anyone else. In Windsor, it is not good enough for the status quo to keeping winning. All those who voice criticism or exercise their legal right to challenge decisions are silenced so that the city can speak with one voice.

That’s the topic of the next blog post.