By Jason Menard
I prefer to vote FOR something, not against it. No matter at what level, I’d rather vote based on conscience, not compromise. Most of all, I want to choose from the best of the best; not the best of the rest.
If you follow municipal politics in London, you’ll know that, for some, the Great Satan is Incumbency (well, Selected Incumbency). The talisman to ward of that perceived evil, of course, is quality opponents (with a Hail Mary thrown towards term limits).
Yet, in an odd twist, there those who once lamented a dearth of quality candidates are now wringing their hands over an overabundance of perceived quality – to the point where the Great Satan of Incumbency will rise up, Lazarus-like, to reclaim his or her throne, based on vote-splitting.
And, to combat this challenge, there has been whispers of what is to me an even greater evil. An evil that undermines the intent of the electoral process in its purest form.
Strategic candidate selection.
Too many good candidates in a Ward? Let’s encourage the others to drop off and we’ll rally around this one! Sure, that other candidate may represent everything you like and want, but think of the greater good? Surely you can live with less than ideal for your ideals, right?
I may be way out on a limb here, but I base my vote on the following:
- the person whom I feel best represents my views, needs, and desires, and who will best use my voice – the one that I am allowing her or him to speak with – in the political forum.
That’s it. Colour of the election sign or colour of the skin doesn’t matter. I don’t care which Party the candidate represents, nor do I care what kind of genitalia the candidate has. I vote solely for the candidate who I feel best represents me and whom I believe will best advocate on behalf of my constituency.
Heck, I voted for David Ly in 1997 in the Laurier-Sainte-Marie riding. You know, Gilles Duceppe’s riding? I don’t think Ly voted for himself in that riding… (I kid. He did OK – but you get my point).
The real evil is our First Past the Post system of electing representatives. In essence, we are bound to a system that, more often than not, ensures that only a plurality of voters in an electorate are satisfied. In some cases, over 60 per cent of those who voted are represented by someone for whom they didn’t cast a ballot. Unfortunately, we’re not able to change that yet.
But is artificially reducing an electorate’s choice based on some vague idea of increasing the opportunity for a certain “side” to win any better? Are we not still left, frequently, with someone who still only truly represents a plurality of an electorate. We can still be left with a majority dissatisfied and underrepresented?
In 2011, I wrote that the Pair Vote movement was everything that’s wrong with federal politics. Like this form of strategic voting and candidate selection, it games the system and moves the focus away from where it should be — on the voter and his or her needs.
I want to be able to vote for the best candidate. Not the best available candidate — determined by people who are not me.
As a voter, I want to choose the candidate who best represents me. And at the municipal level, where we’re not bound by Party Politics, the idea that choice should be restricted by King and Queenmakers for their own interest is an insult to the voting public as a whole.
Again, why are those the loudest advocates of change the most resistant to choice? From limiting terms to limiting like-minded candidates, it assumes that the average voter is incapable of making the right choice for themselves. It assumes that without artificial barriers in place, they will not vote for the “right” candidate, but rather selfishly choose someone that’s not appropriate for whatever greater good is deemed the cause du jour.
I want to be inspired, not conspired against. And I want that source of inspiration to be more than mere statements or slogans. I need more than a message of hope; I need to be inspired to vote FOR someone who has ideas, plans, and hopes, with a clear understanding that this is not a process that you can go alone in. Too many of us vote in sound bites. I want something a little more to chew on. Blending candidates may provide some nutritional value, but it’s hardly a satisfying meal.
I want the person for whom I vote to be head and shoulders above the competition; not the only choice because other candidates were cut off at the knees.
I’d rather lose standing up for my convictions, than ‘win’ but compromise my ideals. There are many times and places for compromise in politics — in fact, most of the political process should be focused on negotiation, compromise, and working together — but on ballot day that the time when we should be free to express our wants, needs, and desires without qualification.
I want to choose the best candidate to represent me. Period. And I’d hate to lose out on an opportunity to vote for that person because a chosen few felt there were too many like him or her.
I want to be represented by the best of the best. And I’d like to choose who that is, thank you very much.