Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I left a bigass comment over at Excited Delirium and I'm recycling most of it here. I've been seeing a lot of interest in strategic voting. All sorts of schemes and ideas are popping up that are aimed at preventing Harper from attaining a majority. I won't be supporting any of those schemes. Here's why.
While I want to stop Harper as much as the next progressive, I think there are a couple problems with these types of tactics. The Greens and Libs are doing something like this with the so-called Red-Green deal in 2 ridings. The Liberals in May's Central Nova Riding are not moving en masse to the Greens, though. The numbers would work if every bit of the support for the parties that bowed out went to the agglomerated vote. It won't. Denied their party of choice, some voters will simply stay home. Polls include fence-sitters. Some of the weak support may go to the Cons.
With the way the NDP has been campaigning so vigorously against the Liberals, how many NDP supporters would vote Lib should their party decide to withdraw its candidate?
As a Green Party supporter and worker, I would have a hard time strategically voting Liberal. The Liberals haven't earned my vote. They've been particularly ineffective in opposition and allowed themselves to be bullied into acquiescing to every threat made by Harper. As a result, they staved off an election for a few months but managed to enter it looking like the hand-sitters and abstainers they became.
If we wanted a two-party system, we'd have one. Canadians want a choice. NDP supporters want to vote for the party that best represents their views. Ditto for the other parties' supporters. Democracy isn't about narrowing down our choices to allow us to vote for the lesser of two evils. We want to vote FOR something. These sorts of schemes require us to vote AGAINST something. I don't have any hard evidence handy, but I suspect voters are more motivated to actually get out and vote when they are doing something positive as opposed to something negative.
The system is broken. Unfortunately, of the 60% of Canadians who actually vote in federal elections, few realize how broken it is. I've been thumping the PR bible for years. I've watched as eyes glaze over when I start to explain how the FPTP system is undemocratic. People think, "one man, one vote" equals democracy. Period.
The large parties have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They are not only the chief recipients of disproportional representation, they are also they very ones who have the legislative clout to change it. Why would they? There's no groundswell of public support for change.
There's the old saying that in a democracy, you get the government you deserve. Here in Canada in 2006, 64% voted against the Cons. Since then, the Cons have ruled us as though they had 100% support. We did not get the government we voted for. We do not deserve to be lorded over by a party with only 36% popular support. Ergo, we do not live in a democracy.
665,000 Canadians voted for the Green Party in 2006 and elected zero MPs. Those 665,000 have a better understanding of the patent unfairness of the system than the voters who elected MPs with 36% popular vote. This time, it is entirely possible that well over one million will vote Green and still not elect an MP.
Sadly, it may take a strong dose of un-democracy to convince enough Canadians that we have a broken system in need of reform. So be it. When we engage in schemes and vote trading and candidate trading and all sorts of strategies to play the game by the unfair rules, we only perpetuate acceptance.
I voted strategically once when I thought I could help stop an undesirable candidate from being elected. I felt slightly nauseous afterward and the experience still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils. I refuse to vote against the least desirable. I will continue to vote positively. I will vote for the party and candidates that best reflect my values, whether or not they stand a snowball's chance in hell in our unfair, archaic first past the post system.