Snow melts and potholes get filled — and politicians at all levels, from municipal right up to federal, know that, like cats, voters have short memories and are easily distracted by treats. And that’s why even the most dedicated of seasonal protests can fizzle before ballots ever hit the bottom of the ballot box.
Right now, it’s hard to avoid seeing stories about snowclearing; about protests over the fact that, despite pledges by the City of St. John’s to actually look for sidewalks (they haven’t found any yet); about cul-de-sacs left unplowed while other streets get different treatment.
Perhaps the photograph to the far left above, of the street where the mayor lives, airstrip-wide and photographed on the morning after last week’s big snowstorm, will generate some complaint.
Especially when you compare it with the streets the city forgot to plow in Southlands — the photo in the centre above. (The pictures were taken within minutes of each other.)
Or there’s above picture to the far right, taken on a third St. John’s street on Friday, when the melt had started but there was still plenty to plow.
The fact is that councillors and the mayor know that snow rage will melt away with the snow itself: a few crocuses will pop up, the air will fill with the smell of barbecues and cut grass, and the winter of 2013-14, complete with all its anger, will simply drift into the past. One of the reasons our politicians seem to be so ineffective at making real and comprehensive changes?
We let them off the hook, again and again. And that’s not their failing, tThat’s ours. When voters accept bread and circuses, politicians can hardly be blamed for delivering them. So if you want to be an activist, if you really want to effect change, you also have to have a memory and a sense of commitment longer than the half-life of a snowdrift. Otherwise, you’re just a seasonal experience — lived through, and quickly forgotten.