Left and Right of Centre

For most of my life I didn’t really care about politics. I just assumed, as many do, that none of it mattered since the people in power would do what they wanted regardless of how their constituents think or feel. I decided a few years ago that I would begin to follow what was happening mainly in American politics, as Canadian politics seemed boring and not as appealing or entertaining.

I would speak to different individuals and listen to their viewpoints. Sometimes we ran around in circles, sometimes we would agree, and many other times we would simply agree to disagree. Either way, it never changed anything to do with policy or politics itself, but these conversations did help me to understand the basics regarding the political spectrum and the positions of others.

About two years ago, I was swayed to the far left in my mindset, and began, or so I thought, to care about the so-called “little guy”, being the disenfranchised and/or “helpless”. I followed the entire campaign of Bernie Sanders, finding myself agreeing with much of what he had to say. While everyone within the political spectrum attacked him, I felt that he was the most genuine of the presidential candidates. I was inundated with the opinions of progressive shows like The Young Turks, and found myself falling victim to the exact reactionary thinking that guys like Ben Shapiro and any scholar of logic and reasoning are telling their followers to be cautious of. This far left school of thought governed my decisions and how I voted when it came to the last Canadian Federal election.

About a year ago I started working alongside a young, intelligent guy from Florida. He was a Trump voter, but not really a supporter, as he was more anti-Hillary Clinton than he was pro-Trump. He also made a strong argument for the true definition of libertarianism, and how it differs from the fringe beliefs of anarchism. We agreed on some policies, disagreed on others, but always managed to keep our conversations civil, and showed enough respect to one another to at least listen to the other side. While these interactions didn’t necessarily change my mind, it assisted in an evolution of my thinking. I began to blame crony capitalism, lobbyists, and the allowed manipulation of the system, rather than capitalists and the super rich themselves, for the current social state of the US, and how it both contrasts with and mirrors that of the Canadian government and system at large.

Recently, I have been absorbing more centrist and right leaning content, in which I have found some truths, but don’t fully agree with everything that they have to say. It has fed the analytical portion of my brain, the same way that the progressive-liberal side fed my feelings. I found myself agreeing with capitalists and their right to pursue financial success without having to give up most of it to taxes, which tied back to earlier discussions about the essence of libertarianism.

As I continue to learn and shape my thought process and what I, as an individual, deem as to be successful strategies for creating a functioning and inclusive society, I have become increasingly more confused with where my loyalties lie. What I can say is that being more fluid in my thinking creates opportunity to see the good and bad of all sides’ policies, as well as landing me in the position of being both left and right of centre.

All things considered, I don’t believe that mankind has seen a perfect government, nor will they ever. But I do believe that somewhere buried in the policies of all of the parties and perhaps parties still to come, there is a healthy balance of social progression and fiscal responsibility.

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The Ultimate Tourist Trap

As a family, one of our favourite places to go on vacations was Cancun, Mexico, which we visited four times. I have been back twice since that last family vacation and has it ever changed.

The first time we went to Cancun was over New Year’s week in 1996/97. I was 14 years old and it was my first time to an all-inclusive resort. I remember that I only left the resort one night with it was my oldest sister, who was 18, and a group of people around her age that she had met earlier that week. We jumped on a bus packed shoulder to shoulder, and headed toward the club district with our “travellers” (drinks for the bus ride).

The bar we went to that night was Dady Rock; a pretty well known place in the heart of the club district. I could barely move through the sea of tourists. This was a time when the only locals in the bars were the staff. We had an amazing night, some drinks and some laughs and headed back to the hotel around three or four A.M. This was my first time really partying and I loved it.

Over the next four years, we went back three more times and the partying just got more wild each time. Cancun was a safe, exciting place for tourists to just let go.

Fast forward to my most recent visit in 2011, which was a sales incentive trip, consisting of approximately 30 people. Only a couple of us had been to Cancun before and knew what we were in for. On my prior trip, I had noticed some shady police activity, and questionable practices of the staff in the clubs but shrugged it off. This trip was to be a major eye opener.

The first night that we went out it was very apparent how the area had changed. While walking from the bus stop to the club, we noticed a group of seemingly very unsuspicious young tourists handcuffed in the back of a police pickup truck. My co-worker and I were offered drugs and prostitutes more than a dozen times in the three-minute walk and it didn’t end there.

Once in the club, the most dangerous thing you could do was go to the bathroom. That’s right. Each time I went, a guy at the door would rudely cut me off. He would ask me if I wanted to buy cocaine, and each time I said “NO.” He would then follow me into the bathroom and offer it again while standing beside me as I did my business. Once again, I would dismiss his offer.

After a couple of hours of that garbage we decided to leave. We walked back to our hotel, this time making sure not to look anyone in the eye. During that walk, we began to put the pieces together about how Cancun works these days, recalling horror stories that we had heard from friends, and through our own observations.

We came up with how we believe the trap works.

Everyone knows that the Cartels run Mexico and that many of the police are on their payroll. But the intricacies are quite clever.

Bouncers let in drug dealers to attempt to sell you the drugs. If a dealer is successful, he’ll give you space to think that you’ve gotten away with it. The bouncers are then tipped off by the dealers and bust you. You have two options at this point; leave with, or without the drugs. If you leave without the drugs, they go back to the dealers and they repeat the cycle and split the cash. Should you be able to leave with the drugs, chances are, police will stop you once you exit the building. The police will then confiscate the drugs, and what they do with them at this point is anyone’s guess. However, this should be the last of your worries. At this point you once again have two options; give up whatever amount of money they are extorting from you, or go for a ride to the police station, where you’ll still have to pay them. This happens once they are done with their strip search in a room full of other police officers and whomever they decide to invite in. You will leave the station feeling degraded and extremely embarrassed, which is something you should never experience when away on vacation.

I have since been asked by some friends to go back to Cancun, and my answer to them was, “I hear Jamaica and Cuba are both nice this time of year.”