VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – The attack ads are running constantly in the civic campaigns, our provincial politicians are always “on-message” and the federal electioneering kicked off months ago — and it’s all being funnelled to you in a constant stream on both traditional and social media.
Are you suffering from political overload?
A formerly avid political-watcher in Victoria says she is burned out and is afraid many people are simply not paying attention anymore.
“Back in the day, I used to read four or five newspapers a day and I’ve been pretty interested in politics for most of my life,” says Steffani Cameron, a Victoria-based writer and blogger.
“I’ve been pretty tuned in, but these days I’m pretty tuned out,” she tells News1130. “I think it’s fatigue with the 24-hour news cycle and the fact that everything is an ‘issue’ all the time. Then there’s all the mugging for cameras and packaging of information to woo the voters. I’m just much more cynical than I used to be.”
She blames the constant federal and provincial politicking coupled with the midterm elections in the US and the Rob Ford sideshow in Toronto. Add the peaking of municipal campaigns ahead of the civic elections November 15th and Cameron says it feels like it’s all politics, all the time.
So if people with a keen interest in politics are tuning out, do the politically apathetic even stand a chance?
“I think it depends on whether people can find meaning in the elections,” says Dennis Pilon, an associate professor in York University’s Political Science Department.
“It becomes a problem when they are constantly bombarded but they don’t see the buy-in for themselves — why does this matter, why should they care? When people can figure out how the politics affects them, then people seem to have a lot of energy. Where we hear people start to talk about being ‘exhausted’ by all the coverage is when it doesn’t really resonate with them.”
Pilon uses the American midterm elections as an example.
“It doesn’t really resonate with Canadians but it seems every time we turn on an American channel, there’s more, more, more elections. Civic elections are the same — many people find it hard to participate substantively in discussions about municipal politics because they don’t really know much about the issues.”
Pilon, in part, blames the media for not covering civic elections as extensively as provincial and federal elections.
“I think the media need to ask more questions of the public. I think often the media present ready-made conclusions and assumptions about what the politics is about, usually taking their cues from the pundits and the politicians. I think there’s a lot not being covered that people want to see discussed in a way that relates to them,” he explains.
He points to jobs as a good example.
“There are a lot of people out there who are concerned about jobs, whether they’re good, whether their kids will have a career and buy a home. If you ask people about that and they will talk to you for a long time. But that’s not the way that issue is typically talked about. When we hear the headlines, it’s always ‘40,000 jobs were created last month’ and that sounds really impressive but it doesn’t talk to people about what kind of jobs they are.”
News1130 is offering in-depth coverage of the municipal elections with complete coverage on November 15th, anchored by Jim Bennie.