Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Strategic Votes Were Not Wasted

Along with others who were concerned about climate change, we promoted strategic voting in the 2008 election. It didn't work this time: we still have a Conservative minority government. But at least there is no Conservative "majority" government. In any event, a backlash against strategic voting is not justified. Acting within the law in a democracy to maximize the chances of a good outcome for the planet is a good thing. The strategy did not reach its ultimate goal because other people's actions. But the strategy's ethical value remains intact.

I was sad to see our local Liberal MP lose out to a Conservative despite my strategic vote. So I can sympathize with ScruffyDan who seems to be in a similar situation. Moreover, our MP was fairly progressive/green long before Dion, so this is a loss on many levels. Under Proportional Representation I would have probably voted Green because they are even closer to my values. Unlike ScruffyDan, though, I don't feel that my strategic vote was wasted. I feel like a person who had done the right thing but lost.

The Green Party did pretty well in this election, considering our unfair voting system (more on this below). They will survive without the few bucks that my vote would have given them in added funding. It would also be easy to send them a small cheque to make up not voting for them if I decide that this is justified by the Green Party's direction.

Some Green party members apparently want to oust Elizabeth May for her (admittedly vague) stance on strategic voting. They claim that
"the Green party needs a leader who supports the Green party over other political parties".
I thought that the Green Party is different from the others because it aims to serve the planet and humanity, not its own partisan interests. In fact, when other parties adopt major parts of the Green Party platform (as in the Liberals under Dion), the Green Party might want to ask,
"what do the Earth and humanity need us to do?"
In any case, I doubt that the Greens would elect any MPs until Proportional Representation is in place. Alas, this is total "Political Science Fiction" in federally right now. Quebec just voted massively for the Bloc. When push comes to shove, this party would probably oppose any system that would results in fewer seats for them. They might even turn it into another "wedge" issue in favour of separation/sovereignty/sovereignty-association/[insert new euphemism here]. Most of the other political parties would also oppose Proportional Representation for fear of losing seats in Parliament, if not right away, then eventually. The recent story about the NDP refusing to support Proportional Representation in 1980 is instructive (h/t Democratic Space).

And as Ontario voters have seen, mere lip service by a major party like the Liberals in the MMP Referendum is not enough to get Proportional Representation in place.

The country is also facing a potential recession. Many people are unlikely to have the time or stomach for citizens' assemblies and referenda on electoral reform. Harper's fantasy about abolishing the Senate if it cannot be reformed is also likely to fail. Nobody wants to talk about constitutional issues. Quebec and other regional interests would oppose the idea as well.

Strategic voting will continue to make sense in some ridings in future elections as long as the current electoral system is in place.

1 comment:

ydzabelishensky said...

In related news, vote-swapping sites claim to have helped to prevent Conservative victories in at least two ridings.

And has sent out an email promising a report card on their efforts. That's something that I'd really like to see. I'll post an update comment when I have more info.