Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2011/ Federal Election Post-Blather

Federal Election Post-Blather: Tears and Heartbreak

I warned you this might be coming. I will attempt to keep it shorter than the last entry (and someday I might do something about the distracting green background).

  1. Federal Election Post-Blather: Tears and Heartbreak
    1. Alienation
    2. Elizabeth May
    3. Fairy Tales
    4. Youth Alienation
    5. Vote Suppression and Injustice
  2. Sidebar!


I made the mistake of looking up the election results as they were coming in. It was a difficult night, but it was not unexpected. I predicted and feared a Conservative majority, but I thought that the Conservatives would win Quebec, not the NDP. I know that people don't understand how our voting system works, so it was not surprising that local NDP delusionists split the Liberal and NDP vote locally, allowing Stephen Woodworth and Peter Braid to cruise to easy victories. In post-election comments Braid reaffirmed that ignoring all-candidates meetings in favour of canvassing was the way to go. The Conservative election strategy of keeping local candidates out of the spotlight worked. We vote for parties in this part of Canada, not for individual candidates.

But boy howdy does it hurt. It may well be the case that more voters in our riding would have preferred either the NDP or Liberals to the Conservatives in our riding. It may even be the case that more people would have preferred Bill Brown or Andrew Telegdi to Peter Braid. But it doesn't feel like that. Reading all the smug Conservative victory tweets hurt a lot. As with every election, it made me realize just how much I don't belong, and how alone I am in my political orientation.

I live in a bubble that allows me to ignore those realities much of the time, but the bubble is pretty small. Every time I get a glimpse into the broader world, my heart sinks. Given that I am an outsider even within my bubbles, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that there really is no place for me in the world.

Elizabeth May

It was heartening to see Elizabeth May win her seat. Good for her: she has a national soapbox for the next four years. But an unfettered Conservative majority means that per-vote funding is disappearing, and federal electoral reform is a dead issue (at least for the House of Commons -- the Senate is another story).

It took a huge amount of local effort to get May elected. I see few reasons to believe that the Greens can parlay their victory into any kind of real power in federal politics. At best they can combine May's increased presence with focused efforts in a couple of other ridings to build up a handful of additional seats.

Note that -- unlike the Canadian Press -- I am not arguing that May conducted solely a local campaign. I think she represented the Greens nationally the best she could. But she also put huge amounts of effort into her local riding, because in order to elect a Green MP you need more Green voters concentrated in a riding than any other voter.

Fairy Tales

I told you that neither the NDP nor the Green party would get elected locally. You didn't believe me, and you won't believe me when the next election rolls around either. You're going to fall for exactly the same groupthink, because you don't realize how small your bubbles are either.

Go on. Tell me how election victories in Quebec indicate that it is worth voting for your conscience. Nothing is impossible. Maybe there will be a provincial Orange Surge as well. We'll see.

Youth Alienation

It occurs to me that although we lecture to "Get Out and Vote", we also disparage every effort they make to participate in the electoral process.

Youth are the one of the biggest voting blocks for the Green Party, and we shut the Green Party out of the debates.

Youth organize vote mobs, and we write them off as cutesy partying.

Youth have huge presence online, and we dismiss their online efforts as "slacktivism".

Vote Suppression and Injustice

To me, the most unexpected and distressing development in this election was the story that voters were being phoned and told that their polling stations had been changed.

The above article identifies the following ridings as targets for these phone calls: Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Ottawa.

This is serious business. I do not know who was doing this. It could have been individual yahoos. It could have been a third party with an agenda. Or it could have been organized by a political party. In any of the above cases, these incidents need to be investigated and the perpetuators need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

I know I should not feel so vengeful about this, but I do. This kind of trickery is vote suppression. It is illegal and immoral, and is the behaviour I would expect in despotic third-world countries, not Canada. (Spare your jokes, please.) If this story is true, then it represents a new low in a campaigned filled with lows.

Unfortunately, I doubt that anybody is going to bring these yahoos to justice. This story has already disappeared from the news cycle, and it will soon be forgotten. If anybody dares to warn against such shenanigans for the next election, those people will be dismissed as bringing up "old news".

If an organized group was behind this, then only those at the lowest levels will be punished. The story will be written off as the reprehensible actions of a few misguided individuals, and not any kind of organized, concerted effort. That will be a great injustice.

If a political party was behind this then that political party should be dissolved immediately. That sounds like an overreaction, but I don't think it is. Any political party that is not willing to respect the basic rules of democracy -- that those who are willing to vote should be encouraged to do so, and not dissuaded from casting their ballots -- does not deserve to exist in Canadian politics. Full stop.