22 May 2011 Ideas Politics

Prologue: Apathetic Students or a Pathetic System?

On Friday, the first installment of my new biweekly column was published in Imprint. Broadly, I’m going to write about politics on a local, national, and global level - and how political issues impact students. Or, more to the point, why we should care about the way we’re governed.

My first column highlighted the rise of new media and open data in the political realm, and how it might best be used to engage students today. (Spoiler: politicians have a lot of catching up to do.) I don’t pretend to be the first to think of this idea, but I was astounded when, after firing off the final copy to my editor, I came across my exact argument in a book by Pierre Berton called The Smug Minority.

It was published in 1968.

Pierre Berton was talking about TV in this particular instance, but his words are uncannily relevant today.

Nobody can expect the politicians to give any sort of a lead here since the politicians, least of all, understand the new medium. When they use it at all, which is rarely, they use it atrociously, and they have made a law which prevents them, specifically, from using it dramatically. It is a measure of our political perception that most candidates for office continue to use the Nineteenth Century medium of the public meeting during election campaigns … One would think Sir John A. Macdonald were still running for office.

Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil, I guess.

Sam Nabi

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