Week 10: Power to the People

In the beginning of the chapter, Dawson points out that “poor Brazilians had more power as consumers of popular music than they did as workers or citizens”. It is an interesting statement because it prompts me to believe that the concept of people buying beneficial products for themselves could be more democratic than “democratic governments” in some countries. Dawson writes that these Brazilian citizens “could listen to what they liked, and reject what they did not, and in the process reveal what record companies have long known: it is harder to shape the tastes of consumers than it seems”. To that end, any consumer could be more influential towards a certain product because it would benefit them, whereas, in truth, many citizens do not have much say about actions taken by the government. Lots of people buying a certain product would show that that product is popular, influencing companies to produce and market more of said product, however, for a democratic government such as Canada, the only way to influence government, is by voting. In this way, to me, it seems that consumers purchasing products and influencing the way that companies sell and market them, can be more democratic.

Dawson writing about Lazaro Cardenas brings back memories of reading Creelman’s interview with Porfirio Diaz. In both pieces, both men are drawn up to be amazing leaders that were loved by the people, things unheard of in most politics and politicians. However, with Cardenas, it seems almost like the real deal. Dawson portrays Cardenas as a “People’s President”, someone who would stand up for the disenfranchised and always do the right thing even if it may be the harder thing to do. Although I’m wary of falling into a similar illusion like Diaz, Cardenas does seem more genuine through many of his symbolic actions. For example, he cuts his salary in half, cancels cabinet meetings to meet with the poor, and swims to an indigenous island during his campaign.

Reading Eva Peron’s speech in the documents was very interesting. It surprised me that the crowd was supporting a woman for political office. This was intriguing to me because many of the previous documents we read in the textbook dealt with sexism. However, it was odd, for me, how Dawson never mentions how momentous this was. The people loved Evita so much that they would not leave until she accepted the ticket on her husband’s presidency. What happened to the sexism that plagued Latin America in the previous decades and centuries? Were people previously sexist because there was no female candidate to support or champion? How come Dawson makes no mention of this?

5 thoughts on “Week 10: Power to the People

  1. I do understand how you find it strange that their was no mention of the sexist attitudes of the past, but you have to look deeper into her story. The fact that she was accused of ‘sleeping’ her way to the top shows a sexist attitude, as no man during that time period was accused of that. The sexism was more subtle then the past but still very much there.

  2. That’s an interesting point you make about how consumerism could be more democratic, I’ve never thought that until you brought it up. I think in some aspects that is true, but I also believe that a balance of voting and consumerism in certain products would lead to a strong democracy.

  3. I find the point you make about sexism not present when talking about Evita really interesting. Although it is true, Dawson doesn’t really touch upon the subject in this chapter, I think it is not very pertinent since sexism was only brought up when criticizing Evita and not in the everyday discourse that surrounded her persona.

  4. The comparison of Diaz and Cardenas is one that came to my mind too. I agree that unlike Diaz, Cardenas seems represented in a more genuine and honest way. Diaz’s description was over the top and clearly meant to appeal to an audience. On the other hand, Cardenas’ description was worthy of his achievements and his true characteristics.

  5. near the beginning, you mentioned that “the only way to influence government, is by voting”. I disagree with this. In a democracy, many citizens think their only power is by voting, but really, since there are rights and freedoms, we have numerous other ways of influencing the govenrment. Whether through demonstrations, petitions, social media campaigns, lobby groups, and even through the judicial system (with judges able to deem things ‘unconstitutional’, which forces the govenrment to modify, eliminate, or produce new laws), there are certainly many ways to be heard and voice your opinion. Even still, I agree that perhaps a consumer’s influence on the market is more tangible and immediate than a citizen’s influence on the government.

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