9.27.2008

to vote strategically or vote your conscience

There's been a lot of dialogue in the Canadian progressive blogosphere about strategic voting, whether it's more important to vote for something (vote your conscience) or to vote against something (vote for the non-Harper candidate most likely to win).

For me, Idealistic Pragmatist's post on the subject says it all. She's even saved me the trouble of gathering the top links from the different perspectives.

Please go read her excellent post: My two cents on strategic voting.

9 comments:

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Thanks, L-girl!

Lizt. said...

I think that we need a voting system more like Australia, not New Zealand.

L-girl said...

Lizt, would you care to elaborate?

Mary said...

I live in Vancouver Quadra, for two decades considered one of the safest - if not the safest - Liberal seats in BC. Then Stephen Owen resigned, and in the March 2008 byelection the Liberals nosed out the runner-up Conservatives by a mere 151 votes, 10,155 to 10,004(the NDP got 4,064 and the Greens 3,792). In previous elections I'd always voted NDP or Green but, knowing that the byelection would be close, I voted Liberal and will do so again in the general election. Defeating the Conservatives trumps my strong preference for the NDP, and hey, I can still canvass for them in Vancouver Centre, where they have a real chance to unseat Horrid Hedy.

Quadra's byelection was a good example of how poorly results can reflect voters' sensibilities in a first-past-the-post plurality system. I favour a single transferable vote system.

Kim_in_TO said...

When I woke up politically a few years ago, I vowed never to vote strategically again. As far as I am concerned, the point of democracy is to vote for the person who you believe in, regardless of what you think or what someone says the outcome might be. While my NDP candidate has no hope of getting elected (my riding is solidly liberal), it's important for the results to show how many people voted for which party. If the NDP is to make gains in my riding, as well as federally, people have to see that there are people voting for them.

That said, I am interested in the concept of "vote swapping". I will be taking a serious look at this in the next few days. If I can be paired with someone who wants to vote liberal in a riding that is strongly NDP, we can swap votes so that we still get a vote registered for the party we support, while simultaneously giving a boost the the incumbent liberal/NDP over the conservatives.

In the strategic voting debate, it is important to acknowledge the "wasted vote" argument. I've been told I am "wasting" my vote. In a true democracy, there is no such thing as a wasted vote - not unless you want to rewrite the definition of "democracy".

And for the assholes who claim that NDP voters will be to blame if the conservatives get in or get a majority: just for the record, if the conservatives get in, they and Harper are the ones to blame for ruining the country, not NDP voters.

L-girl said...

just for the record, if the conservatives get in, they and Harper are the ones to blame for ruining the country, not NDP voters.

Yeah Kim! I was so friggin sick of the "Blame Nader" crowd in the US, so busy blaming a powerless party that gets a tiny number of votes, instead of their own party who sells out over and over and over and over, or the Supreme Court who put Bush in the White House, or the corporate media spewing lies. Yeah right, Ralph Nader is to blame for the stolen election. He has no right to run and we have no right to vote for him.

Then I move to Canada and watch the Liberal Party acquiesce to everything Harper does, because all they care about is their poll numbers... and I see people blaming Jack Layton! Jack Layton, whose party has voted against everything the Conservatives have put out.

David Heap said...

Eugene Debs (from that country L-girl moved from) once said (something like) "I'd rather vote for what I want and not get it than vote for what I don't want and get it." Coming from a guy who polled over a MILLION votes for the U.S. socialist party while in jail for opposing WWI, these words always give me pause to think whenever the topic of strategic voting comes up.

The problem with the idea in this country is that this "strategy" has always always been uni-directional: people who want to support the NDP (or another left option) "should" really vote Liberal (or maybe BQ) if they want to be effective in opposing the Conservatives (never the other way round, even at times / places when the NDP was clearly the effective anti-Conservative vote). This elections is the *first* time I have ever heard anything about (a few) Liberal supporters who might see the NDP as an effective strategic option. Which is interesting, but I still don't trust'em, because the larger party in such an arrangement will always (in our system) assume they are the most strategic.

Speaking of systems, I would take either Australian (STV) or N.Z./German (MMP) models as alternatives -- anything proportional, please!

Of course, in a rational universe, the Liberals & BQ could easily form a coalition gov't along with the NDP -- the three have far more policies in common than any of them do with the Conservatives. You can write their common platform for yourself in a few minutes, by reading L-girl's impressive list of reasons not elect another Harper gov't, only backwards (not everything fits all three, but there is more than enough there to form a coalition).

The only things blocking such an outcome are stupid partisan histories and an even stupider electoral system.

L-girl said...

The only things blocking such an outcome are stupid partisan histories and an even stupider electoral system.

Unfortunately for all of us, those are very big obstacles.

(never the other way round, even at times / places when the NDP was clearly the effective anti-Conservative vote).

Allan always mentions this. The assumption is always that NDP voters should come to their senses and vote Liberal, or the NDP should merge into the Liberal party. Never the other way around.

I like both STV and MMP, too. When people debate the relative virtues of either, both sides of the arguments make sense to me. I'd gladly go with either.

Mary said...

"While my NDP candidate has no hope of getting elected (my riding is solidly liberal), it's important for the results to show how many people voted for which party.

Vancouver Quadra used to be solidly Liberal, too.

But not anymore.

I'd rather hold my nose and vote Liberal than let this crucial riding go Conservative.