Right or Left?

By Jason Menard

What’s this country coming to? Lately our country’s political map displays all the form and reason of an Escher print! Like an ambidextrous drunkard, we’re having trouble differentiating our rights from our lefts.

On the one hand we’ve got Belinda Stronach throwing support behind gay marriage, while our Liberal party continues to waffle on the subject. Who knows what phoenix will arise from the ashes of Sir John A. MacDonald’s PC party, and is that really Ed Broadbent back on the radar?

Buckle up Canada – with an expected election just around the corner, we could be in for a wild ride.

Whatever happened to the days when you could define people by the colour of the electoral signs on their yard? Blue meant right, Red meant left, and Yellow meant you were probably out hugging a tree! But now, we’ve encouraged and fostered a hyphen-obsessed political landscape that can leave your head speaking.

We’ve got Liberals jumping to the right, Tories dancing to the left, and other parties desperately singing their own tunes trying desperately to be heard over the din of the allegedly different, but vaguely similar song played by the big two. Candidates no longer define themselves by party focus – because most parties don’t have a defined focus. You have your social-conservative candidates on one side mingling with the fiscal-liberal hopefuls – their party colours only separated by the slightest shades of gray.

On the other hand, you’ve got those on the other end of the spectrum, either proclaiming themselves true blue and longing for a return to a more conservative past, or lamenting the loss of social concern and caring that was the hallmark of Liberal parties of days of yore.

So where does that leave the voter? More and more we’re finding our electorate swinging faster than Benny Goodman on uppers. And for a country that has long identified its political leanings based on party politics, this new dynamic can be frightening. But, believe it or not, this new reality can – and will – work out in our favour.

Perhaps we are now entering a time when political upheavals won’t be the grand tidal waves of the past, washing one party out of power just to return that party to prominence years down the road when that initial tide ebbs. While the party system is too strong at this time to do away with, we seem to be now entering a time when our elected Members of Parliament will have to be accountable to their own ridings – a shocking concept!

What politics should be about is electing the person who most effective combines the wants and needs of his or her constituents with the greater good of the country as a whole. I once was a party voter, believing that my ideals meshed with the philosophy espoused by one or another federal party. But due to the changing dynamic of our political landscape, that type of thinking is outdated – and adjusting to the new reality requires effort on all our parts.

No longer should we ignore the election process and simply vote for our traditional party. Now it behooves us to go out and learn about each candidate in our riding, and vote for the one who best fits our needs. On a macro level, the party differences are so insignificant for the most part that it’s at the micro level – the constituency – where the greater variance takes place. And it’s on that variance from which we should determine our vote.

Now, obviously it would help encourage this new voting dynamic if we had a strong alternative party – either from the left or the right – to provide a legitimate alternative to the Liberal juggernaut and to combat voter apathy. Many choose not to vote if the conclusion seems foregone.

Yet this upcoming could be the most exciting yet! In addition to the new faces in new places, we’ve got a chance to truly effect change on our own level. We’re arriving at the dawn of a new era in Canadian politics — but just don’t try to follow the traditional maps to get there!

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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