Election [day]

 

With the ominous reformation looming, the entirety of Trent University was bracing itself for the big 2007 Ontario election. While the university hype is hardly indicative of the state of the entire province, it seems to me that someone out there has managed to catch the attention of the province with the idea of reformation, whether it’s due to hatred of the notion, or joy.I managed to run off to vote around 6 PM, a first for me. I had to get my name on the voter’s list, after which I went and ticked off my choices. I felt fairly confident that the party for which I was voting would not get in, but about the referendum I was uncertain. Turns out that neither was an effective vote — which bums me out.

If this site is correct — which I presume it is — then the Liberals won in a landslide victory. That this is demonstrative of his true leadership prowess, I am doubtful. Rather, I suspect that the reason for the huge preference for the Liberals is a result of few other alternatives, and perhaps a slight distaste for elections. By voting in favour of the “Devil you know”, I suppose, you can ascertain that nothing will get worse, and that you won’t have an election again for a while if everyone cooperates. Oh, and that there will be another holiday in the year, which is good for everyone but farmers. (But that’s okay, because everyone knows that farmers all vote for the conservatives anyways.)

The most disappointing aspect of this, to me, is that the referendum was turned down despite the fact that the election was a perfect example of why we need it to have passed. The Liberals are the proudly seated in roughly 65% of the parliament’s seats, but on the basis of a mere 42.1% of the vote. 65% is a huge majority — enough, in fact, that the constitution could almost be changed with that much popular support. And yet, not even the majority of Ontarians were in favour of the Liberals being in power! Yes, the Liberals would still be in power, but wouldn’t supporters of the PC and NDP rather have that much more sway on the McGuinty government during the upcoming term? And I know that Green Party supporters would; their 8.1% of the popular vote — which would have left them with almost 10 seats — earned them nada. Zilch. Nothing. They won’t even have their party leader in a position to influence parliamentary decisions.

So why is it that so few people voted for the referendum? I’m sure there are genuinely intellectuals out there who have reasons for disliking the newer model. One man I spoke to commented that he has trouble accepting a system in which any member of parliament is appointed instead of elected. That kind of argument, I can appreciate — although my personal comment would still be that it’s preferable to have a slightly flawed system in place that can use some tweaking, than to have a long-obsolete system still dominating our political lives.

But frustratingly, I’m fairly certain that most of the voters who voted for First Past the Post were doing it on the premise that motivated one of my friends. He commented that he didn’t like the Multi-Member Proportional system because it would “lend more power to the smaller parties,” whose ideologies he rejected.Aside from the obvious lack of democratic values packaged in that statement, what concerns me is the lack of foresight in the statement. In retrospect, it’s clear that the Conservatives would have benefited from the MMP system in this election. While that’s a moot point since this would have been the last of the FPTP, I would rephrase that to say that the Progressive Conservatives may very well benefit from such a system in the next election. Having 31.5% of the seats is always preferable to having 22%; in this case, my friend would have been gaining influence under the MMP, rather than losing it to “little” parties.

The root of my argument against my friend and those who voted with similar mindsets is that they have a surprising lack of empathy. Sure, right now it’s the Green Party who happens to be on the outside looking in. But counting on your vote to win the majority of seats is hardly a sound strategy. Some day, PC fans will be considering an election result, wishing that they were able to get half the seats that the other parties do. But ingrained our society is the notion that “fringe parties” will never grow, and “major parties” will never plummet. So, with that in mind, I look forward to the day when the Greens and NDP are winning majorities, while the people who voted against MMP sit back and contemplate on how the system would be awarding them a few seats, at least.

I have vented. My Canucks game is over long ago. It is time for bed, so that I may assume my position as a student at the school again tomorrow (or later today, I suppose.) But tonight I was a member of our political system; and I was sorely disappointed to see how quickly my votes became naught.

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American Disgrace

I am afraid I am not incredibly versed on the way the American political system works. However, I do know that there is an issue with Bush having presidential status, but both the congress and senate being Democratic majorities currently. That’s the simple background to the speculation that there will be a deadline set for a withdrawal in Iraq.

Well, the most recent development I have seen is an out-and-out refusal of Bush to accept these rumours found here. The piece pretty much says it all in the title… Bush has actually stated he will Vito.

Now, I don’t know much about the system, as I said, but I imagine that the use of Vito power is generally pretty frowned upon, similarly (although not nearly to the same extent) as it once was when the Queen was able to Vito Canadian decisions. While it is allowed, I don’t think I can recall there being commentary on it in the American system recently, so either it hasn’t happened, or they take it very lightly, which I find hard to believe.

Why do I doubt it? Because it seems to me that, even though the American people elected Bush in, that his decision to Vito something of that caliber would be fairly anti-democratic of him. The choice by the people to bring in Democrats in both other houses (is Bush a house?) seems a clear move away from the Republicans and supporting the Iraq war. Now, I am tempted to say let them suffer the consequences of having re-elected the man, but I see a larger issue here. Issues have been approached in political science class and in some of the blogs (such as my father’s)about certain policies of the US that are fairly anti-democratic. The US imperialism is a widespread complaint in the university right now. Issues such as civilian casualties, torture (the one covered by dad), and even policing in the States have come up as ways the US abuses its power in the modern world. But somehow, the direct refusal to acknowledge what the citizens of the country that he is directly sovereign over seems to contradict the values of democracy at a whole other level. To see that Bush would go so far as to blatantly refuse to acknowledge that there is a lack of support for the war suggests to me that the imperialism in his own country is as out of hand as elsewhere in the world, and that is a frightening thought.

I am not debating the Iraq war here. I think the war is wrong, but I do not necessarily think that it is a wise decision to pull out ASAP, because civil war will certainly break out and Iraq will be in news headlines for a long time to come. But regardless of the decision’s validity at a practical level, the truth is that Bush is countering all of the values he claims to be “protecting” in other countries. Once again, that is open to debate whether he is or is not actually seeking democracy (I tend to think Bush thinks of that ideal like the Europeans used to think of the “White Man’s Burden”), but clearly he is no longer practicing it, either out of blatant disregard for the ideals he claims to uphold, or because he is desperate to preserve a situation that has gotten far out of hand.

It’s really a pity, too, since he could actually collaborate with the two houses in order to come to some sort of quasi-solution that compromises between his needs and the citizens’. Instead, he is so obsessed with his war that he fails to recognize how much harm he is causing on the home front.