Some Thoughts on Political Efficacy
Sunday, 27 February 2011. I realize that I need to write up this editorial and I’ve been thinking all week about what I could write on. I should write up something about poetry. After all, Tryst is a poetry magazine. Truth is I’d rather play on Facebook and see what my friends are doing and saying than write up an editorial. I’d rather watch the Oscars, well at least the highlights. I’d rather play with my cat who’s purring away next to me, demanding that I sufficiently pet her on the head and tummy. Eventually she’ll decide that I need to feed her for the umpteenth time today and she’ll resort to extortion if I don’t comply.
Truth is I’d rather surf the internet, read what’s going on in the world. There’s a lot going on in the world; I’m following Libya’s uprising with bated breath. Weeks prior, I witnessed Egypt cast off the yoke of a 30-year dictatorship. Things are happening everywhere in the world. My friends say it’s an exciting time. I am not for sure. I’m worried and maybe that is just my disposition—I don’t like conflicts that do not end well. What’s going on in Wisconsin with the protestors and the standoff with their governor for collective bargaining makes me both nervous and proud. These demonstrators are exercising their political efficacy. Wikipedia defines Political Efficacy as:
[A] theoretical concept used to explain political behaviour in Political Science. It indicates citizens' faith and trust in government and his/her own belief that he/she can understand and influence political affairs. It is commonly measured by surveys and used as an indicator for the broader health of civil society. Feelings of efficacy are highly correlated with participation in social and political life; however, studies have not shown any relationship between public confidence in government or political leaders and voting. Efficacy usually increases with age and education level.
There are two types of political efficacy: internal efficacy (the belief that one can understand politics and therefore participate in politics) and external efficacy (the belief that one is effective when participating in politics, for example that the government will respond to one's demands).
By Wikipedia’s definition, the governor is demonstrating an “internal efficacy,” while the Wisconsin demonstrators are exercising “external efficacy. “ The difference is, in my opinion, the governor is exploiting his position to the detriment of the public sector—the workers. What these workers want, besides jobs, is job security. It seems so paltry, so little to ask for—to work for livable wages so that some monstrous corporation that put us in this economic pinch in the first place will profit off their hard labor. I don’t understand what part of the people’s rights to work for better living conditions these corporations don’t get. Without the people, there is no production, there is no profit and there is no freedom. The world is a big pie and it can only be divided up into so many slices, but there is enough for everyone to share. Inequality causes an imbalance in any part of the world; it’s the root cause of injustice. And yet, what am I doing about it? What is my part in all this?
I’m writing up this article in the warm comforts of my bed. I have a laptop, high-speed wireless internet, I have leftover Chinese food in the fridge, and I have a roof over my head while it’s below freezing outside. I have all these comforts because someone is out there holding up a sign, braving the snow and the freezing cold this February day, fighting for their rights, and consequently, fighting for my rights. Thank you, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin...the world is watching.
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