Editor’s note: the views and opinions in the following article are right
I don’t care who you are, who your father is, or under whose divine authority you speak, but I’m really sick of your incessant whining: “But there’s no PQ rep in your riding, Baumer!”
Alright, fine, touche, anonymous lambaster (I just made up that word, yes). Maybe there’s some relevance to your belly-aching.
So, there’s nothing healthier for liberty, democracy and egalitarianism than these looming elections, amirite, Canada?
Who cares about over-confidence, no-confidence or grossly negligent incompetence?
Let’s blow a few mil on some polls, amirite again?
My faith in democracy evaporates when politicians call the elections themselves.
It makes me nostalgic for the good ol’ times of dictators, despots and absolute monarchs. There was never petty quibbling in any sort of shack, shed or house of commons.
Dissent if you must, but there shall be consequences, peon!
Really, though, what good is the entire democratic process if it is usurped by the very leaders we elect?
Party politics is relatively short-sighted. Important matters, both regional and national, include issues over taxation and budgets. We’ve reached a point in society where our ideas and ideals about the future must stretch beyond 4-year clusters.
We need to be at a critical level of awareness about long-term social programs – such as health care – and long-term spending, acknowledging coming advancements in technology and eventual carbon footprints.
Fiscal responsibility needs to be redefined.
Barring any sort of water-raising Armageddon-type scenarios, I think I can safely speak for the rest of humanity when I say it doesn’t want to put itself on the endangered species list.
How does that translate on voting day? I can’t honestly tell you. I can, however, say definitively that voting for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party is a surefire way to invite instability. Kiss goodbye healthcare as we know it (suspending, for a moment, disbelief that our current system is immaculate). Say hello to the privatization of the health care sector.
As we all get together as a nation and vote let’s remember that the wholly pure idea of democracy and egalitarianism is inherently incompatible with the function of nationalism.
Further, true democracy is mostly unattainable. In practice it is far too susceptible to abuse and corruption (as is any man-made institution). Similarly, the theories of communism, socialism and anarchism vary greatly from their actual (or probable) practice in society.
I’m no statistician or social scientist but based on personal experience, nationalism breeds as much unity as it does division, repackaging, repeating and re-emphasizing the existential threat of “The Other”. Xenophobia is a natural survival extinct that allowed tight-knit human communities to flourish in the past.
Yet today, in the age of endless information and globalization, this vestigial instinct does reprehensible harm to the species. Being forced to integrate, accommodate or encourage deep-seated social, cultural and political norms runs contrary to impulse – the impulse to destroy outsiders or intruders.
If we can move past party politics for the sake of both this discussion and the perpetuation of the people population, we start to see timescales longer than the 2-4 year election cycles. 5, 10, 50 years. 500 years. What will the face of democracy and egalitarianism look like then? That’s what we’re being called to the polls for, to exercise our democratic right (and some will argue our legal obligation), to help shape our future.
To say I have the answer would be a lie. I’m forced to look where the parties’ underlying ideological principles lie. I’ve typically considered myself a moderate and plunked down around slightly right-centre on the political spectrum. As we know, though, our own ideals with our own plans on how to make the world better don’t necessarily match those of others and the leaders we subsequently elect.
But wait a minute, did I say elect? As you may know, we don’t actually elect a national leader, but a local one, who in turn votes for the leader of that party. Weird, I know, but also a system that brutally strangles actual democracy. This quotation from Wikipedia sums it up nicely: (bold mine)
In August 2008, Sir Peter Kenilorea commented on what he perceived as the flaws of a first-past-the-post electoral system in the Solomon Islands:
- “An[…] underlying cause of political instability and poor governance, in my opinion, is our electoral system and its related problems. It has been identified by a number of academics and practitioners that the First Past the Post system is such that a Member elected to Parliament is sometimes elected by a small percentage of voters where there are many candidates in a particular constituency. I believe that this system is part of the reason why voters ignore political parties and why candidates try an appeal to voters’ material desires and relationships instead of political parties. […] Moreover, this system creates a political environment where a Member is elected by a relatively small number of voters with the effect that this Member is then expected to ignore his party’s philosophy and instead look after that core base of voters in terms of their material needs…”
Here’s a fun fact: other than England and the United States, we’re one of the only developed nations that still utilizes this process.
If a rival receives more votes despite not having a majority, your ballot is essentially neutralized. Their candidate takes the seat and that’s that. In a proportional system, you and the other 472 votes for your choice would be 472 votes towards victory. Instead, with our plurality system they become zero. This is a gross over-simplification of these two systems, so check them out on your own.
Our system is polarizing. Attack ads? Seriously? Think about that for a second. Forget principles, politicians regress to ad hominem jabs, linking personal characteristics to the validity or efficacy of that candidate’s proposed policy. The goal shifts to crafting a personal legacy if that candidate’s ego is sufficiently aggrandized. The stakes are never higher and the electorate becomes increasingly confused as to the purpose and result of yet another election.
The next government will dictate the future of health care in this country. The Canada Health Act comes to review in 2014. Its main purpose is to channel federal dollars to the provinces. If the federal government redirects funding the provinces will be forced to pick up the tab, ultimately paving the way for privatization. Harper has, over the years, stated explicitly or implicitly his lack of support for the Health Act.
Another major issue to consider is the Conservatives’ abolishment of the mandatory long-form census. They claimed that it was a violation of privacy to ask people more detailed questions. This may very well be true, but it’s not the sole reason, like they may suggest. Some long-form advocates believe that this will make at-risk communities all the more vulnerable and proper funding and social programs would not reach their intended target. A devilish catch 22 is concocted: the opposition cries for social spending, but the Conservatives point to the lack of data.
As you can see, I’ve been slamming the Conservatives pretty hard. I’m not saying don’t vote for them because it’s important to vote for the party you want to govern, the party that best represents your ideals. This is where vote-splitting comes into play with our (in my opinion) broken system. Take, for example, my riding, York Centre. My MP is Liberal Ken Dryden but with a Conservative backlash his seat is threatened. Now, I still don’t know, I just know that I will not vote Conservative. If I vote Liberal, it helps keep the Conservative out of power, but I’ve compromised the integrity of the essence of democracy: I’ll be voting for someone I don’t want and against the other people in my area.
When you go to the polls tomorrow, vote for the candidate you want, not against the others. Try to detach yourself from the emotional appeals of the campaigns and focus on their parties’ founding principles. Imagine a picture of Canada in 20 years time and vote for the party that you think would actualize your ideals.
No matter how likely they are to win.