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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Politics of Desperation

Newfoundland and Labrador will be heading to the polls in a provincial election early next month. Soon candidates will be hitting the election trail in full force. Over the next week or so campaign signs will begin to deface the landscape once again and election promises will start flying around faster than a hummingbird on steroids. For the most part the process will play itself out as these things always do, but there is one marked difference this time around.

With the latest opinion polls showing what appears to be a one horse race, and with the two mainstream provincial opposition parties struggling on life support, a new tactic has become all the rage with those who see their political futures slipping further away with each passing day.

The provincial PC party, or as they would prefer to be called, the “Danny Williams Team”, currently stands at about 75% - 80% support in the province and are expected to win by a landslide. Whether those numbers actually hold up going into the election remains to be seen but they have prompted some party faithful, those not on the “Danny Williams Team”, to an act of utter desperation.

Some are suggesting that the 80% of voters who currently support the PC party should consider using their vote strategically rather than casting it for the party of their choice.

It’s a new wrinkle in what appears to be an increasingly undemocratic society, a concept that’s being talked about a lot lately and one that speaks volumes about the desperation of those promoting the idea.

Essentially the proponents would like supporter of the reigning PC party to vote for a Liberal or NDP candidate instead. They say strategic voting will ensure a strong opposition, help hold the government to account and protect our democratic system.

Excuse me while I vent, but the entire concept is ludicrous. It reeks of fear and desperation. Cleary the idea is nothing more then a last ditch attempt by dying and unbalanced political hopefuls who hope to hang on by their well manicured fingernails.

There is no doubt that there’s something to be said for a strong opposition. As someone once said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. In Newfoundland and Labrador those words ring far truer than in most places. Many voters are old enough to recall Joey Smallwood and the fallout of his unchallenged power, but the existence of a strong opposition is something that has to happen in a natural way, not through a forced agenda.

The onus for getting elected lies with the members of the various parties, not with the voters. It’s the parties that must present strong candidates and solid platforms. It is the candidates themselves who need to give voters sound reasons to trust them, to want them in office and to elect them. If they can't do that then they deserve to lose.

Instead of the parties stepping up to the challenge of providing a real alternative to the voting public, those voters are being asked to cast their ballots against their choice in the name of protecting democracy.

It’s a concept that is the complete antithesis of what democracy is all about and the proponents of this approach should hang their heads in shame.

By asking this of the public they are actually asking them to give away their ability to vote for their candidate or party of choice.

Why should I or anyone else vote for a candidate or a party I don’t support? What possible reason could I have to even consider such a thing? It’s almost too foolish to talk about. Consider what might happen if everyone suddenly had a massive attack of the stupids and actually acted on this. The end result might see the public elect a government nobody wanted. Now there's a cold reality check for you.

The very foundation of a democracy is the right of each individual to vote for the candidate of their choice. The system is not meant to be corrupted by having voters support a candidate or party they do not want to form government.

I have no way of knowing if my preferred candidate will win a seat this October or not, but win or lose, I'll execise my franchise in the way it was intended. I certainly don't intend to cast my vote for someone who is looking for a free pass instead of providing me with a solid choice that would warrant my support.


Anonymous said...

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Why can't the Liberal and New Democratic parties attract quality candidate that embrace their ideals? Is it because the "PC" party currently in power plays to all ends of the spectrum and that Williams as a leader is so compelling? Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated...
I do not believe that the PC's will garner 80% of the vote despite what the polls indicate. My prediction is that a large portion of the voting population will not vote in this election. I believe that will send a clear message to all parties: shape up your act, the voters are sick of your corruption and lies.

Patriot said...

You raise some good points Anon. There may be something to the idea that it isnt' so much the popularity of the current government but the total lack of a viable choice.

The fact that some would resort to asking people to prostitute their vote in this way tells the tale.

rant said...

Why can't the Liberal and New Democratic parties attract quality candidate that embrace their ideals?

I cant speak for the NDP but what Newfoundlander or Labradorian would think of voting Liberial.Every problem that this province has ever had has come from a Liberial Governement.
From Smallwood to Tobin.If this Party would stop giving away our resources and start standing-up to canada for the people that they represent,then maybe Newfoundland and Labrador would have an opposition instead of people thinking along the lines of this stupidity.
Everything happens for a reason and you get what you put in.Isn't democracy crazy

EM said...

Another great post, with the right message, Patriot.

Keep up the good work!