The world can certainly do better than this. Here's why.

Thursday, December 22

Has it come to this?

Elections in Canada are fast approaching. The platforms of each of our parties, espousing promises of nominal political timbre, can be found at their respective websites. The ruling party, the Liberal party, seeks another term in office while the Conservatives seek to unseat them. Our other choices: the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Quebecois, and, ostensibly, the Green Party, do not stand a ghost's chance at forming a majority government. There is conviction, at present, that none of these parties will form a majority government and that we will be voting, again, in 12 to 18 months. In my opinion, none of these people are suitable to form a national government, nor are we - the citizens of this nation - properly informed to make such a choice. Such is democracy, the right to vote blindly for unelected, party-sponsored candidates.

We had discussions tonight - whom the "we" is is not important, we are all voting Canadians - concering this election. Once we clarified what we were talking about, that the choices must be made among all eligible candidates and that "official" party status has only political bearing the selection made by an individual, we approached the topics of greatest concern in this, or any, election: the value of a vote and what supports such a decision.

The decision in question is that of D, a homosexual male, who - after some great degree of soul searching - has decided to vote Conservative. This, because he:

a) does not want to "waste" his vote
b) wants to "punish" the Liberal party

Gomery report, broken promises, and mismanaged funds among his reasoning, he believes that the best way to hold the Liberal Party accountable for their actions in office is to vote them out. 12 years of Liberal leadership, in his mind, has culminated in a "corrupt" power centre that does not act responsibly. He goes further to say that the Liberals "need time [to] rethink" their manner of government before they can be allowed back into power.

The Conservatives are his only choice, he believes. The same Conservative party that discriminates between homosexuals and heterosexuals with respect to marriage, instead of treating people as people. The same Conservative party that cozied up to US interests and brought NAFTA into our midst. The same Conservative party, whose leader, Stephen Harper, espouses as policy that the solution to drug trafficking is harsh sentancing - including mandatory prison sentances for grow-ops and the death of marijuana decriminalization.

The world that the Conservative party has in mind is much closer to that dream sought by America. Smaller government, more free enterprise, less social responsibility and more privatization. Corporate enterprise will succeed and individual liberties will fail. The indictment of Canada as a welfare state, burdened by our "archaic, governmen-run health care system" seeks to undermine all things Canadian. But, that's what the Connies (no offense Connie) want.

My argument targets both of D's justifications. The first, that voting against the Liberals without voting for the official opposition is a "waste" is preposterous. An election is the time at which all must choose for themselves. The "waste" is prognostication, tortious interference in the path of the future. Alliances and dependence on what is past, or, especially, what is planned or promised for the future is not the way of freedom.

An election is a free vote, let the chips fall where they may. D did go so far as to say that there are too many choices, that any vote away from the Liberals or Conservatives is a wasted vote. The product of a two party system is clearly exemplified in US politics. Furthermore, a two party system is only one step away from a totalitarian regime, much like the "enemy states" of the past: Facist Germany and Italy and Spain, Soviet Russia, N. Korea, Iraq, and others.

Campaigns, especially mudslinging, ought to be outlawed. An election should present the best options to the people based on sound judgement and responsible execution. And yet, though most of us have left high school behind, politics remains a popularity contest.

If a Green Party government is elected, so be it. No vote is wasted.

The "punishment" of a party, too, is a ridiculous reason to "vote for the other guy." A party cannot be "punished" because a party is not a person. The ideas, ideologies, and methods of the Liberal party will remain whether or not they are in the offical seat of power or not. Political inertia is the reason for this. If the object of the game is to win, and the Liberals happen to lose, it does not mean that they will abandon what has worked for 12 years, they will only tweak it and make it work next time. Nothing is learned in politics but innovative ways to achieve victory.

The Liberal and Conservative parties of Canada will remain deadlocked for much of the time to come. The concern of many Canadians are identical, that they want their vote to count and that they want their vote to have an impact. Until a true paradigm shift washes through, hopefully in the form of a Green Revolution, we will be stuck with the present issue: can our democracy work? My solution is simple, the ballot option to abstain.