It seems that NOT VOTING is a popular consideration amongst many of us. The idea being that NOT voting is a benign revolt, a subtle rejection of the system, a vote of non-confidence, as it were. Cutting our noses off to spite our face is essentially what that is.
And that’s an error. NOT voting is what the parties in power actually want. All three of the major parties want lesser turnout, not more. The ideal voting scenario for them is that only the rabid faithful vote and the rest of the general rabble don’t vote at all – for whatever reason they choose to cling to.
Why? Because the big three can influence their own groups to get out the vote for them. The rest of the population is a crapshoot. “Because our card-carrying ‘rabid faithful’ can maybe outnumber theirs especially if theirs don’t bother to vote. And, further, we can cheat and do dirty tricks like busing uninformed immigrants around the place for no more than a free lunch and bit of speechifying. They’ll vote for us and their vote at least cancels out the other party’s rabid faithful. With luck, the whole damn thing will be decided by just the few of us.”
In other words; they know they will vote. Being able to count on others NOT voting is the second best thing for them.
Small turnouts result in incumbents winning. Small turnouts cannot create change. Small turnouts indicate ambivalence, not resistance. Small turnouts serve the BIG three. You can either vote for Harper and he gets your vote or else you can NOT vote and he gets the equivalent of half a vote. To vote against Harper you HAVE to actually cast a distinctly different vote and unless that distinctly different vote goes to the winning party, it will amount to only half a vote. In effect.
Say, for instance, you vote Green but the Liberals win. Your Green vote ultimately means nothing except that Harper didn’t get it. The Liberals didn’t get it either but, because they won, that vote didn’t matter to them. It didn’t help the Greens or the NDP either but it was, at least, half – effective. It was a half-vote. It was closer to the none-vote than a NON vote would have been, actually. ‘Cause the NON vote only serves the incumbent well.
If you voted Liberal and they won, your vote counted fully. It meant something to the successful party. That is the only time it really counts as a real, fully empowered vote. In our system, you have to guess right to be fully effective. It is this kind of reasoning behind the ‘vote strategically’ movement that wants us all to pre-determine which party has the best chance of unseating a Conservative and then voting for that one – whoever it is. The idea is: any rep but a Con.
I don’t like that. It means we eliminate choices. Eventually it is just Republicans vs Democrats, Ford vs Chev, the American League vs the National league. I am inclined to voting my conscience instead. I want to perpetuate the semblance of choice by retaining some. Plus I believe minority governments work better.
But this time, I am voting strategically. I will be casting my vote for whichever NON CON running has the best chance to unseat the incumbent. I would cast that vote for the Rhinoceros Party if they were the front-runner. The Bloc, even.
But I feel that is a compromise to my ethics. I really do. I really feel we should be able to vote our conscience. This time, we can’t. So I am going to vote strategically instead. I am not proud of this.
I was frightened into it. A cynic friend of mine jokingly pointed out, “The Greens are funded by the Conservatives! Remember Elizabeth May used to be Mulroney’s right hand. The Greens keep the Cons in!”
“WHAT!!!! ARE YOU MAD????”
“Think about it, Dave. The fewer people who vote, the more likely are the Cons to get back in because the incumbents benefit by low turnout. Green votes are ‘left leaning’ so they split the ‘left side’ of the political spectrum. There is only one party officially on the ‘right side’ and so any right-wing oriented voter has to vote Conservative. If you really wanted to get rid of the Cons you would start four more parties all with right wing platforms to split the right wing vote. Start a Republican Party, a SoCred Party, a Nazi-fascist Party and a Totalitarian Monarchy Party. That might just do it. As it is now, the left is divided in thirds and the undivided right-wing Cons win with that system.”
“Oh, Gawd! We need proportional representation so, so bad.”