They just had a vote in Cataluña (an Eastern region in Spain containing Barcelona) to decide whether or not the people were in favor of Cataluña becoming it's own nation. Less than 50% of the registered voters voted, and guess what? They got a result that favored the power-hungry minority. Like many peaceful, wealthy, Western nations, Spain's apathy at the voting booth is becoming a real problem. Several months ago, Marga and I were talking with her Aunt Marga about the trouble she was having fighting the bureaucracy to get some money from the government to feed her family while she was off of work to care for her dying husband. She announced that she was fed up and that it didn't seem to matter if you voted or not, because you always got screwed by the government no matter what.
I explained to her that it was absolutely paramount to the country that someone as intelligent, fair, and compassionate as she is votes every single time. If all the normal people who are just trying to get by don't vote, the whole system reverts back to a feudal power structure where the rich can command what they wish of the poor (like going off to die in the desert so that Rich Man can get some fuel). In one of my more passionate speeches in my second tongue, I think I actually convinced her to keep voting.
Spain has lots and lots of political parties. But, not surprisingly, there are really only two big players on the national stage, and those two big players fit neatly into the labels of Liberal (PSOE) and Conservative (PP). Both of them are creeping closer and closer to the line that separates them so that it's often hard to tell the opinions apart. Sound familiar?
As you may recall, the Conservative party was in power and wanted to help Bush fight his war in Iraq. This was completely against the will of the Spanish people, and was only to gain more personal power by buddying up with the powerful Americans. There were all kinds of demonstrations in the streets of all the big cities against the war. The train bombings in Madrid did not change anyone's mind about who they wanted in power. What it did do was get people to vote. And the election resulted in the "screw the people, more power for me" Conservative party getting the boot by an overwhelming majority. So the Liberal party is presently in power in Spain.
Recently, while watching the news, Marga had an epiphany. I knew that what she said was true, but I hadn't heard it quite so clearly stated. She said,
When the Liberal party is in power, all you see on the news is the Conservative party leaders whining and complaining about every little thing that the Liberal party is doing. And when the Conservative party is in power, you hardly hear a word of dissent out of the Liberals.
Read that again and let it sink in. I've lived in three countries long enough to get a feel for the politics there, and that statement applies to them all. Now I'm going to tell you why.
By doing this, the Conservatives make it look like there is real pressure from the people to overthrow the Liberal government. This is their illusion. What they're trying to hide is the fact that they are in the vast, and I mean, vast minority. They're like those animals (puffer fish, cobras, cats, etc.) that make themselves look really big when they are threatened to try to deter attackers, when, in reality, they are small and could be easily attacked. Don't believe me? I'll prove it to you with logic:
Granted, step #3 is slightly skewed in the US because of the depressingly large number of people that think that religion has anything to do with politics or rational thought. If all those people actually stopped thinking what someone told them to think and asked themselves what would be better for them, they'd all vote Democrat.
The only way that the Conservatives can get into power (aside from cheating the entire system) is by making a lot of noise, on television, in church, and on the radio. They do this in an effort to seem bigger than they really are and to get you not to vote!!!