Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Oh, look. Our election is already a joke.

Thus far:

  1. Two leaders (Harper and Layton) have decided that they'll boycott the leadership debates if May is included. Well, fine. They can boycott if they like. But a decent press corps would have pointed out that the choices were (a) attend or (b) have an empty podium sitting there with the party's logo prominently displayed. Harper and Layton were both blowing smoke, and the consortium that organizes the debates decided to use that as an excuse to exclude a viable fourth (I don't count the BQ) party. And everyone knows this. Yet, somehow, it's taken as a legitimate argument by the serious and thoughtful folks in the Ottawa bureaus against the political importance of the Greens.
  2. Everyone also knows that the leadership debates are a bullshit fest at the best of times, and an exercise in slogan-shouting at the worst. This is, again, partly the fault of our pathetic press corps; but it is also the fault of a political system (SMP or FPTP) that only really works when there are two parties. When you have the dozen-plus that are registered in Canada, FPTP works to insulate the historically powerful parties and reduce the ability of newcomers to found political organizations to advance their interests. Which means that unless you're deeply confused and think that the historically powerful parties will actually serve or represent your interests to Parliament (Liberals, I'm looking at you), or you're a hyperpartisan who treats politics like a team sport, there's really no point to participating in the process.
  3. As mentioned, the elephant is in the room, the one thing that no one has yet talked about on a national stage. Our voting system is pathetically inadequate for an advanced and diverse polity like Canada. (It doesn't even work for the more homogenous Americans; and places where it might work, like Sweden, don't use it.) It leads to vote-splitting (what a group of laughably inept Young Liberals were screaming about at a Jack Layton campaign stop yesterday -- or possibly the day before, I can't really be bothered to look it up). It leads to excluding the leaders of parties -- not just the Greens, but also Canadian Action, Libertarian, Christian Heritage, the old National party, etc, etc -- on obviously arbitrary grounds. It leads to pseudomajority governments that can force policies on the country most people didn't vote for. And on, and on, and on.

So, here's my message for the election.

Don't vote.

Like as not, the parties you want to vote for have no chance at getting any national exposure, and are thus doomed to be footnotes. The parties you don't want to vote for don't represent your views (and, seriously, Liberals, Dippers, Greens, do you really believe the crap your parties endorse?). And your riding is probably so ridiculously partisan one way or the other -- mine happens to be heavily Liberal -- that your vote, whether for that part or not, serves no purpose.

At least the American election provides some interesting theatre. So far, ours doesn't even have that much going for it.

So, don't vote.

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