I've noticed that my blogs have a tendency to creep towards "blessay" status (thank you, Stephen Fry; the chief difference between the blog and the blessay seems to be that the blessay assumes a great length, and is presumably more erudite. I can live with that.). Now, for readibility issues, I was considering moving towards shorter entries. That's not going to happen today. In fact, today's topic is so extensive that I'm splitting it up into two posts, so as to best keep my thoughts straight, or at least less crooked.
Have I mentioned that I'm Canadian? Well, consider this the mention then. I am Canadian, and our election is quietly gearing up for the 14th. I honestly hadn't done a lot of thinking about this election; it seems overshadowed by the one down south. Then I realised that this was exactly what was wanted; that by calling an election at this time, the Conservatives manage to slip under the radar and under public notice. (it's an uncharitable assumption on my part, but you don't want your name dragged through the mud, don't call an election before the date you promised to.) I don't like being manipulated, and I want better from my leaders. So today, I sat down and thought about the political parties.
I've already tipped my hand on what I think about the Conservatives. But accusations of shennanagins aside, take a look at their platform. The word that pops up again and again is "individual." (also notice that despite ferverent promises a few years back, the phrase "ban gay marriage" has mysteriously disappeared.) You can see their free market roots here. The basic Conservative stance is that it's the role of the government to allow the individual as much freedom as possible to do his or her own thing. And that's a good starting principle. It's a nice foundation. But it's not everything, or even the important thing.
Stripped of its niceties, this policy boils down to a sentiment that's not nice at all: look out for number one. Stop anything and everything that might intefere with the pursuit of me. I think we're better than that. I think that as a people, as Canadians, as members of the human race, we're better than that. And if we're not, we should be. And the only way we're going to get there is if we pursue not what's best for the individual but what's best for everyone. And I don't mean a blind pursuit where the one is sacrificed for the good of the many. I mean a constant discussion, even argument, from everyone involved, a never-ending state of definition and re-definition that keeps in mind the ultimate goal: help each other. That means more government, not less, more social programs, not more tax cuts. The Conservative stance is to provide (and strip down) just enough so a person can help his or herself; my stance is that greatest, most noble action is to do whatever we can to help each other.
So not voting for the Conservatives, then.
Next up: the Liberals. Here's their platform. (Really? You want to lead with your tradition of fiscal responsibility? Really?) The liberals are probably the most middle-of-the-road party Canada's got in terms of ideology. And that's what bugs me about them. I've always felt that if you had some sort of hypothetical knife that could slice open the liberal party and expose their core belief, all you'd find is a note that says "I'll believe whatever you want me to believe to get elected. And aren't the Conservatives scary?". "We're not them" may be a message that caters to their main strength, and they certainly don't bother me as much as the Conservatives and their actually existing ideology, but... it's not enough, not for me.
Finally, where the crux of my choice lies: the Green Party and the NDP. And I probably shouldn't be lumping them together, but, well, that's what the problem is. I checked up on a few forums that were discussing my home riding, and the general consensus is that the Conservatives would probably win, because the left vote was too divided. (Remember the good old days when it was the right vote that was divided? The REFOOOOOOOOORM party?) That seems to be the case nation-wide, and certainly the case in my own noggin. In terms of fundamental ideology, the big difference between the two seems to be the Green Party's rhetoric is intimately more bound up in environmental concerns, whereas the NDP's is more focused on anti-big business, which probably says more about their original roots than actual differences. So what are the differences? Well, there's this thing by former Green Party leader Joan Russow
which comes out in the NDP favour; she's against basically what she sees as a shift to the right in the party in terms of the military, GMFs, and other in what she sees as an attempt to make the party more mainstream by abandoning its original beliefs. And there's this page which seems to be arguing a different thing entirely, that the Green Party is working to transcend the notion of political spectrum, which is the sort of dichotomy-breaking thinking that I certainly approve of. (Although I wouldn't put too much faith in either of them; the creator of the latter page seems a bit sketchy and Russow certainly has an axe to grind.)
Usually, the tie-breaker for me in such cases is the individuals in the riding, but they stack up pretty evenly as well. So I went with the party I have more history with--maybe not the best rationale, I'll admit, but not an entirely unjustified one either. The NDP have deep roots with me; my parents have been heavily involved in the party for as long as I can remember, and while I respect the Green philosophy, I don't see anything they're offering that's so different as to warrant jumping ship.
So that's that off my chest. See you at the Conservative Majority in two weeks!