By: Poster Bot
On November 9th I was the first in line at the Canadian immigration office… the first rat ready to abandon ship in the shadow of a Trump presidency. The attempt failed, but I wrote about the experience, and although a version of my story was published in NOW, the full story was edited down to half its original glory. So this story isn’t about Trump, or the rat returning home with his tail between his legs. It’s about the man who was cut from the pages of NOW, in a sad and profit-motivated attempt to cut James Filippelli from the pages of history.
James is the founder and current head of Your Political Party Of British Columbia. My interest in him was that YPP can be likened to an American third-party, and because my intent was to defect in the event of a major-party win, I figured I needed to schedule at least one Canadian interview, that way I’d have something to say when the border guard asked, “Why come to Canada to write about the U.S. election?”
“My article is about the Canadian perspective,” I replied. The guard smiled, knowing there was nothing he could do as long as my cover was plausible. “Will you be speaking with anyone in particular?” I named James, and was waved across the border where I met the ginger-bearded man just outside The Patricia, a budget hotel in the heart of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the heroin capitol of North America.
I hadn’t been at The Patricia long, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate the hotel’s amenities: a magnificent view of the homeless camp out back, plus, hot and cold running junkies, injecting 24/7. After a quick tour of the local attractions, James and I wound up in a bar on Main Street. He bought me a beer, and I asked him about addiction… and since I’m writing this for an American audience addicted to Twitter, I’ve translated James’ comments for the Twitter-dependent, “I think there are a few concerns with the problems we have here.” he said. “There’s a whole industry around maintaining the status quo, with millions of dollars poured into the Downtown Eastside every day, and that situation continues to get worse.”
To change the situation James suggested the following, “Addicts need immediate access to detox and rehabilitation, and they don’t have that now. Rehab centers are overcrowded, so if you’re an addict living on the streets, when you hit rock bottom and finally say, ‘I want to change my life,’ a rehab center may not have a bed for you. So you might be told to come back every day for the next two weeks, and they’ll get you in when they can. But if you’re turned away to spend another night fearing for your life in a cold and rainy alley, are you really going to be able to do that sober?”
James thought it was unrealistic for a rejected addict to stay motivated against the harsh realities of the street. He also questioned whether it was realistic to expect results when detox centers have an open-door policy.
“This is a controversial issue,” he continued, “but we don’t have any kind of mandatory treatment completion process. All the treatment in BC is voluntary, so if you’re signed up, going through withdrawals and thinking, ‘I can’t handle this,’ you can walk out anytime. Centers have to wait ’til you hit rock bottom again, so you’ll volunteer again to come back and get clean. I don’t think all treatment should be mandatory, but I think we should have that option for people who want to get clean no matter what.”
He wasn’t saying that gangs of rehab-agents should be stalking the city of Vancouver while rattling shackles and pushing methadone, but he was saying that desperate people need access to desperate measures, and I was desperate to connect my article to Election 2016, so I asked James about being a third-party candidate.
“In some ways we have a situation that mirrors what happens in the United States,” he said, “where you have a left and right divide. The discussion here is similar, in that we also get the ‘us versus them’ mentality. It’s not really about issues, it’s about, ‘We can’t let them govern, because they’re not us.'”
The gods of journalism hang their heads when contemplating us versus them. It was us versus them that fed mainstream media’s lust for sales and ratings. And in an election starring two of America’s most hated candidates, it was us versus them that kept third-party alternatives out of the public eye.
The alternative offered by YPP focuses on transparency, and that starts with an open-source political platform, “We’re working on an online platform where people can directly add suggestions,” he said, “We haven’t finished yet, but we’re talking with an organization called Democracy Earth. They’re trying to create a way of doing it with a block chain technology, like what Bitcoin uses, to make sure that every participant only gets one login, and can only make one vote.” The concept is simple: put legislative ideas online, and let constituents up or down-vote issues for YPP politicians to work on. If voters arepro-pot, or anti-pipeline, YPP politicians should consider public opinion.
Considering the pitfalls of the U.S. election, I pointed out that Hillary’s critics accuse her of taking public opinion too far… being either for, or against certain issues in a two-faced scheme to keep ahead of the polls. I asked James to respond. “That’s a very valid point,” he said, “because I don’t think the majority is always right. Our idea for the online platform is to create a YPP government that would allow every British Colombian secure access. Let ’em log in, let ’em vote, but they’d be non-binding referendums, so that at the end of the day, it would still be government’s responsibility to either do what the people are asking for, or not. But if we don’t, we better explain why.”
What James wants is to remove the secrecy from deep politics, because majority rule isn’t as simple as it sounds, and politics is a full-time job.
I’m not talking about being a politician; I’m talking about being aware of the political process. At every level (city, state, and national) it requires massive amounts of time to sort through massive amounts of information. That’s time most voters don’t have, so we elect politicians to do it for us, and we hope media will keep us informed when we have questions. YPP was founded on the principle of an informed electorate, and its commitment to that principle means making decisions that are open to scrutiny… rather than being accepted on faith.
YPP has some interesting guidelines for holding politicians accountable to the faith we place in them, “We expect our candidates to create a contract with the people in their constituency, outlining campaign promises, so if a candidate doesn’t follow through, they’ll be obligated to step down.” He continued, “Some of the things in my contract are, I’m going to hold a town hall every three months, so people in my constituency can voice their concerns. I’m going to give a biweekly update, through a website, or through email, about what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks.” He also intends to give 15% of his total salary back to the people: 5% to causes of his choosing, and 10% to the people’s choice.
British Colombians might think they have a limited choice when it comes to their elections, given that most are between the popular Liberal, or NDP candidates. American voters face the same dilemma, pressured to choose between the two right wings of the same crooked bird. Since that choice was never more apparent than in Election 2016, I asked James what he thought about third-party naysayers, suggesting that alternative candidates detract from major-party wins, “As long as you think you can’t support an alternative, or vote for someone you actually believe in, you’re going to continue to support that entrenched system.” he said, “If we want real change, we need to stop voting for people who aren’t offering it.”
He continued to explain that Canada has a Green Party, and voting Green has a cumulative effect, “I’ve voted Green, and even if they didn’t win, imagine if they won ten, or even fifteen percent. It’d make other parties think, ‘If we want to get those votes back, we need to address environmental issues.’ So, even if a voter doesn’t want a Green Party candidate in power, they might want major parties to care more about the environment. By voting Green, you force those parties to start thinking Green.”
It’s unfortunate that for some, thinking Green means focusing on the bottom dollar, because somewhere, at the bottom of a dark and dollar-stained dumpster, crawls the foul and fetid beast behind Toronto’s mainstream media.
I’m not from The Great White North, but I grew up watching Toronto television: Forever Night, Friday The 13th, The Kids In The Hall, all featuring vampires, devil-worshipers, and girl-drink-drunks. But when I submitted my article to NOW, a Toronto-based weekly newspaper, even my warped upbringing couldn’t have prepared me for the depraved and ghoulish bat-creature currently posing as NOW’s senior news editor. For he is he who shall not be named, because to speak (or even write) his name would be to conjure up his beastly prescience.
During the back and forth between reporter and editor, I asked he who shall not be named if he needed print-quality versions of my illustrations. I produce a minimum of three per article, but the bat-creature was only interested in one, “yes… i’ll need higher res for print purposes for sure… i think the trump one would be best… if u could send that one in high res please… 1 mb should work.. thanks.” The beast was clearly editing from his cellphone, an offense that not even the gin-swilling gods of journalism can ignore, but, putting his use of Newspeak aside, in that one, poorly written text, he taught me the hardest lesson of Election 2016… the media elected Trump.
You can’t read all about it in NOW, because the YPP interview was cut from the final story, but I asked James about Trump, “Politics needs a shake up.” he said. “It needs people who aren’t your typical politician, because those are the people who’re usually in it for the right reasons. The thing that frustrates me about Trump’s campaign is that he’s managed to tap into that ‘fixing politics’ spirit, but at the same time he’s also inflaring racist and sexist sentiments. He’s dividing people instead of bringing them together.”
Trump divides people by acting like a buffoon, and dumpster-diving beasts like he who shall not be named widen that divide by paying too much attention to Trump’s buffoonery. The bat-creature’s text was a perfect example: given a selection of three, the only picture the beast wanted was Trump’s, because Trump gets people angry, and the beast called man is never so motivated as when it’s angry. In other words… Trump sells newspapers, third-parties don’t.
So, while profit-motivated editors cut third-party news from the mainstream narrative, Trump’s narrative was on every page, every asinine comment, every knee-jerked tweet, repeated in a hypnotic rhythm of headlines, ironically persuading a mesmerized public into casting a ballot for the enemy whose name the media made popular.
I know a good Gonzo journalist is supposed to love an enemy, Hunter had Nixon, and I laughed out loud when he described Nixon as, “A drooling red-eyed beast, with the legs of a man, and the head of a giant hyena.” I’m sure I’ll see plenty of foes when visited by the ghost of Gonzo future, but, for the present, I wanted to focus on a friend, a ginger-bearded man who bought me a beer in a strange and far off country… may the gods of journalism forgive me.