Well I had to address the question sometime, and 3:30 AM is as good a time as any.
My lungs woke me, following a bout of rapid sneezing. Now I'm just waiting for the Advair to open the pipes again.
The question I refer to is of course: Who do I vote for? I mean, I have to vote for someone, right?
Do I have
to? Well no. But the alternative is irresponsible--even spoiling my ballot isn't a valid choice unless I really don't give a crap what sort of country my Canada is going to be.
Of course, if I do
give a crap, I'm quite likely to be disappointed. The governing Liberal Party has been dogged by corruption, scandal, and a ruthless desire to stay in power that has laid bare the greed and lust in Parliament.
The New Democratic party is non-viable as a government, and in any case hasn't a hope in hell of forming one, since they can't capture even 30% of the votes.
The Bloc Quebecois isn't running in my riding, and in any case is a morally bankrupt single-issue party whose purpose is not to actually achieve sovereign independence for Quebec, but rather to have a tantrum until Ottawa hands over more money--Transfer payments (the Canadian government's way of sharing out revenue) are proportionally higher to Quebec than to any other province.
That's the main parties. There are others; my own top favourite is the Green Party, which is at least a sincere and earnest political machine. So why not vote for the greens and be done with it?
Ah, well that's where the strategy comes in. Y'see, Canada is running a 50%-plus-one-wins-all system, known as "first past the post" or FPTP. And although I used to wholeheartedly support changing this to some form of single transferrable vote (STV) system, I have changed my mind.
STV systems are notorious for giving up minority governments, and upon viewing the political hornswoggling, pre-campaigning and disgraceful maneuvering that Paul Martin's Liberals had to go through to cling to power in the last Parliament, I've decided that the cruder system is likely more effective. If it produces more majority governments, then I'm okay with that.
Not that I necessarily want one of those either. Some of the folks who want power in this country scare the hell out of me. It says something that in a happy and mostly contented country people are ready to turf a not-terribly-bad government in favour of a right-wing idealogue (Disclaimer--you know my biases Watson, apply them).
Which is where strategic voting comes in. I can vote for one of my favourites, knowing that I may just be casting an ineffective vote that will in the end go down with my candidate. Or I can ponder and plan to hold my nose and vote for someone I think will have a chance of defeating the person I don't
want elected. But the one thing I cannot do is sit on the sidelines.
I have a responsibility to vote, as do all of us. If you're reading this and saying "well I don't vote because (insert namby-pamby excuse here)" then kindly go get stuffed. I'm wasting my time talking to you. If you don't voice your opinion by voting, things will only get worse. Hell, they may get worse anyway. But if we're standing around together and you're bitching about the government in this country, and I ask you if you voted in the last election, you only get to continue bitching if you answer with a clear, firm "yes". Otherwise hold your tongue.
At the moment I have three clear options:
1) Vote for my favourite party.
Advantage: the sunny feeling of having properly exercised my democratic franchise, the outside chance that my candidate may win, and the possibility that in a minority government my opinion, voiced through the narrow margins of victory, will be telegraphed to the federal party leaders and thus the government. Disadvantages: the possibility that I may accidentally contribute to a majority government from the wrong party by failing to support a strong candidate into opposition, along with the commensurate but independent risk of "wasting" my ballot and not having my opinions count for anything at all.
2) Vote for the big machine that has a shot at actually forming government. This means choosing either the Liberal or Conservative candidate in my riding. Adantage: far more likely odds of my choice forming the government. Disadvantages: a) the idea that the Liberals won't get the hint, won't recognize how disgusted I have become with them and b) the odds that the country might get highjacked by the current US Chief Executive(because a vote for Stephen Harper is, so far as I can tell, a vote for GWB).
3) Spoil my ballot--not valid for reasons above. Or throw my vote out the window by picking some loony fringe party such as the Christian Heritage group, who want to turn Canada into a theocracy such as the US is becoming.
As I write this, I realize that I'm pissed at Stephend Harper not only for being the small, venial, overweeningly ambitious, disingenuous creep I think he is but for, by being a grasping, power-hungry, zealot, forcing me to go to the polls three years early.
And I'm pissed off at Paul Martin not only for being the small, venial, unambitious, gutless creep I think he is but for, by virtue of being a weak man with the moral character and intestinal fortitude of cardboard, forcing me to go to the polls three years early.
My next couple of posts will cover "Voting and How to Cope With Having to do It Again Only Eighteen Months After Having to do It Last Time" and "The Parties: Everything a Responsible Voter Needs to Know About Who's Running, How They Want to Screw [Up] the Country, and Why You Should/n't Let Them." If I get all that done, I'll add a post on who I'm leaning toward and why.
Right now I'm signing off and going back to bed. And if you're up late reading this, so should you be too.