Monday, October 6, 2008

Prisoner's Dialectic

This link was brought to my attention today. Essentially, it's the strategic wing of an apparently much broader than I thought movement to galvanize the "Anyone but Harper" vote. I'm... very ambiguous about this. First of all, it shines a big ol' beacon on everything I hate about our electoral system. The idea that you have to choose between voting for the person you think is best for the job and voting against the person you don't want the most in the job seems contrary to the whole "democracy" and freedom of choice thing, and it's argument number 1 in favour of adopting some form of a proportional reprsentation system. (The typical argument against proportional representation, btw, is that it creates minority governments. What is it we have now, again?) If it came right down to it, I don't know if I could follow voting in such a pragmatic fashion; it seems contrary to the idealism that voting is supposed to represent.
On the other hand, the part of me that is really suited to academia admires the movement in an abstract sense. As a social experiment, I'd love to see the result. People are basically counting on a common desire to keep Harper out of office to overwhelm individual partisan loyalties. If you follow this process and vote against your own party in your riding, you are counting on the voters in another riding to keep the pact and balance things out. The process also calls for a surrendering of autonomy and authority; if you're fully buying into this "anyone but Harper", you are surrending your vote and relying on their word (whoever 'they' are) that voting in the manner they direct is the superior method. Of course, arguably, that's what you're already doing by voting for anyone. And so we go in circles.
Finally, the pragmatic aspect of this movement overshadows the obvious truth that it is still an ideology. I respect that people feel this strongly about Harper and the potential future of Canada, and I largely agree with them. I've got a lot of respect for anyone who honestly feels passionate about their beliefs, and for someone to go to the lengths to provide such an exhaustive amount of information, there's got to be a lot of passion there.
Extra-finally, 'cause I thought of a new point, the whole situation strikes me as fundamentally Canadian. This just isn't a problem the two-party American system would face. (Unless you're supporting an independent candidate, in which case you're already part of the crazy fringe,and should thus move to Canada anyway.) Is it weird that this observation makes me feel strangely patriotic?
The whole argument is moot for me anyway. In my riding, I wouldn't even have to make the choice between the two types of votes, because the NDP candidate is the suggested recipient. And, as y'all know, I already voted. But if there's anyone out there who's still undecided, check out the site and post your opinion back here.


Wayne Smith said...

In the last election, more than 7.5 million voters cast their votes for candidates who did not get elected, and ended up "represented" by people they voted against.

Fair Vote Canada is holding a contest.

How many votes will be wasted this time? Your guess could win you cash prizes!

cait said...

Dude, I think your assumption here is that people vote with parties -- which not all people do. I have always voted for the candidate, not the party to which they belong -- especially in federal elections because I am the classic alienated westerner who assumes the party leaders aren't going to give a shit about Saskatchewan, anyway.

Person of Consequence said...

I dunno. Given the lock-step party voting in Canada, it seems like 9 out of ten times at least, a given candidate votes with their party anyway, so voting for person almost comes out to voting for the party anyway. (Which again seems like there's something wrong with the system.) But you're right, the person SHOULD matter. In my riding, I didn't do much research into the people beyond check out a few different website profiles, but even doing that made me feel better about the person I was voting for.