6.10.2014

why i'm voting liberal on june 12 and why i feel so crappy about it

Need it even be said? The rightward shift of the NDP is a colossal disappointment for me.

I'm part of the NDP's natural constituency. The NDP has historically been a social democrat party, a party of the working class, a party not tied to corporate interests. The existence of the NDP, a credible, viable party on the left, is part of what made Canada such an appealing choice for me.

Despite the right-leaning leadership of the NDP at both the provincial and federal levels, I still have hope for Canada. Every NDP voter I speak to, and everything I read, tells me that my disappointment is shared and echoed throughout the land. There is still hope that the NDP will reconstitute itself as a party on the left.

But not if we dutifully vote for them no matter what platform they put forth. When 34 prominent NDP supporters wrote to Andrea Horwath to express their disappointment, we got a glimpse of the NDP's future. They collapse at the polls, Horwath is turfed, and party is re-formed from the grassroots up.

The alternative is what liberal Democrat voters did in the US. In election after election, left-leaning Democrat voters believed they had to vote for the party under any and all circumstances, as the party gradually became almost indistinguishable from the Republicans in all but its rhetoric. The Democrats could take for granted the liberal (in the US sense) vote, so they continued to court the so-called swing vote... and you know the rest of the story. If I vote ONDP, I'm repeating that exercise.

Many of my leftist comrades see this very differently. In articles and analysis such as this, they argue against the Liberals, who instituted most of the Drummond austerity recommendations, and whose leader, Kathleen Wynne, voted in favour of then-Premier Dalton McGuinty's anti-union Bill 115. They argue in favour of supporting the only party not tied to corporate interests, the party that (theoretically) is tied to the working class.

I can't successfully relate the arguments in favour of voting for Horwath's ONDP, because they don't make a lot of sense to me. I understand everything that's wrong with the Liberals, that's why this has been such a difficult decision for me. But I can't see talking about class interests during an election. Elections are not about class interests. Elections are not a revolutionary tool; they are a small-c conservative tool. Elections are about squeezing the most reform we can out of an unjust system. Sometimes - not all the time, each situation is different - elections are about doing the least harm.

It's uncomfortable for me to say this, the more I read IS analysis of the provincial election, the more clarity I found on voting Liberal to vote anti-Hudak. The arguments in favour of voting NDP in this provincial election are, to me, theoretical gymnastics.

Tim Hudak will demolish public services, eliminate tens of thousands of good jobs, and make life harder for all of us. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals are clearly not my preference to govern this province. But I believe they will be less worse. And until we get rid of the first-past-the-post electoral system, this is what I'm stuck with.

In my riding, the NDP has no chance. But there's a very real chance of the riding going Conservative. I have to do my small part to prevent that. Then I have to hound the Liberal government day and night to keep them from doing the same things the Conservatives would have done.

25 comments:

Stephanie said...

Oh what proportional representation could do. We are fortunate to have a great NDP candidate who is likely to win but Andrea Horvath's 'leadership' makes my stomach turn (memories of Bob Rae). There's a sauce I don't want to taste again.

Nothing good is coming out of this election as I see it.

James Redekop said...

I've been having the same debate in my head. Normally, I'd consider a Conservative minority with strong opposition from the NDP to be acceptable (though obviously not optimal), but having both Harper and Hudak in power together, even with a minority in there, sounds too disastrous to risk. At least Ford is sinking in the polls...

This is where some form of preferential voting would be really, really useful...

Fizza Mir said...

I think we're in the same riding Laura, and I understand the real fear of having a Conservative win. Yesterday I was furious to come home to find a blue lawn sign in front of my house, even though we've repeatedly told Con canvassers that "No, they can't count on our vote!"

Like you and most NDPers I'm so disappointed & conflicted, but in good conscience, I just can't give the Liberals my vote. I might abstain - I don't know yet.

Once I tried spoiling the ballot during a municipal election, but now everything is automated and when they slid my vote card into the machine an "error" beep alerted the volunteer who stopped me before I walked off and asked me to re-do my vote. Ugh, all expressions of political dissidence are being quashed.

M@ said...

One of the biggest disappointments from McGuinty's time in power (and there were many) was how the election reform question was handled back in 2007. By introducing the question and then undermining the idea, the Liberals ensured that we wouldn't see any electoral change for at least a decade.

In my riding, I'm in a similar position. What I see is:

* The NDP candidate was selected after the writ dropped, has nothing to recommend her for the job that I know of, and does her chance of winning is very low.

* The Green candidate was also the Green candidate in the last federal election. He's a smart and witty engineer. I agree with two major parts of the Green party platform (ending Catholic school subsidies and destroying the Beer Store monopoly). This is my ideal candidate even though he'll get less of the vote than the NDP. But...

* The PC candidate is our local CPC MP's former chief of staff. (You may remember meeting him, Laura.) He was a banking executive (which leads him, hilariously, to call himself a "financial expert" -- exact quote -- in his campaign spam). He'll be a perfect Hudak back-bencher.

* The Liberal candidate got the gas-fired power plant cancelled in Oakville, which is a good thing. Whether it was done for the right reasons or not, and indeed how it was approved in the first place, are big questions for me. But the result is what I wanted, so I'm satisfied.

The Liberal and PC candidates are too close for me to feel safe enough to vote Green, so I'm going to have to do the same thing and vote Liberal this year. As you said, Laura, it's the least worst option.

Sigh. Well the one good result of the election is that maybe I won't be unemployed for quite so long...

Kirby Evans said...

I agree entirely. The only way to take back the NDP at this point is for Horwath to fail miserably on polling day. That is the only way that people like Horwath and her supporters will get the message that their move to the right is unwelcome by most NDP voters. Who cares if the NDP (federally or provincially) get elected if they don't represent a significantly different agenda. However, if we take away our support they will have to see that there is a need for an actual left alternative or they will have to whither and die.

James Redekop said...

The Torontoist has a good article up, in which they very reluctantly endorse the Liberals as the least-bad of a bad lot.

Among other things, they had this to say:

And there is one very strong point in favour of the Liberals, which is Kathleen Wynne’s promise to allow municipalities to implement ranked balloting for municipal elections. (The NDP is promising this as well; their promise is limited to Toronto and came several days after the Liberal announcement.) Ranked ballot voting provides a more democratic and fair voting system that would allow us to endorse smaller parties and lesser-known candidates without having to grimace at electoral realities: it allows you to vote less strategically and more idealistically at the same time. That’s what we should all want, and ranked ballot voting for municipalities is the first step towards normalizing this behaviour to the point where we can hopefully, down the road, extend it to provincial voting as well. (Not for nothing has Tim Hudak, leader of a party whose only chance at power in this province is convincing an engaged minority to turn out in the right ridings, refused to support ranked ballots.)

laura k said...

Fizza, I think we're not in the same riding anymore. We moved in September 2013 because of flooding. My current riding is Liberal, but I think - like most suburban ridings - it could go either way.

Your riding at least has a strong and visible NDP candidate. Our current one does not.

James Redekop said...

My riding's almost certain to go PC. I have not seen a single NDP sign that I can recall, though there are some Liberal ones. All the more reason to settle for the Liberals this time 'round.

laura k said...

Well, if you knew your riding was going PC, it would be safe to vote NDP, if you wanted.

Then you'd have to consider how you feel about endorsing Andrea Horwath's version of the ONDP.

James Redekop said...

Actually, I just checked the latest polls, and it looks like the Liberals have taken the lead. And I definitely don't want to be endorsing anything which reduces distinctions between the parties.

Apparently we do have a Green candidate. Apart from the Global News election page for my riding, I haven't seen any evidence of him anywhere...

johngoldfine said...

As a race-fan, I love that the horse-racing term FPTP has found a political use, along with terms like starting gate, run, favorite, home stretch, strong finisher, and so on--much better than martial metaphors!

But it's worth noting for everyone who thinks FPTP is in the Bible or something that in commercial horse racing, it is not winner-take-all. The place and show horses also share in the prize purse, just as the bettors on the second and third horses share part of the parimutuel betting pool.

So, if you return the racing metaphor to politics (and consider the way racing is actually run), the top vote-getters or parties would be each be entitled to some form of proportional representation, depending on what order they passed the post.

So, it's time to either change the metaphor or change the way voting is conceived of. Or, I suppose, change horse-racing back to a FPTP arrangement, as it once was.

;)

laura k said...

I'll vote for (a) changing the way voting is conceived and (b) allowing for different meanings in different contexts. With, of course, (a) and (b) proportionally represented in Parliament.

Gunner said...

I'm personally going to be holding my nose and voting Liberal this election, as opposed to holding my nose and voting for what the NDP have become. Hopefully if the NDP crashes and burns this time we can get the real NDP back for next election.

laura k said...

Gunner, thanks for your comment. It's very validating for me.

allan said...

Hopefully if the NDP crashes and burns this time we can get the real NDP back for next election.

Of course, there is always the possibility that the NDP will think it crashed/burned because it didn't go far enough to the right. :<(

laura k said...

Of course, there is always the possibility that the NDP will think it crashed/burned because it didn't go far enough to the right. :<(

That's what those articles from Socialist.ca (linked in the post) say. I might have thought that was a possibility, but for the prominent letter, all the publicity that's gotten, and a huge whack of posts, tweets, phoen calls, and letters from NDP voters telling Horwath WHY she lost their votes.

Kev said...

While I cannot support the ONDP in it's current form I still can't bring myself to vote OLP. From planned deepening of austerity to their love affair with P3s there is is too much to deter me.

It occurred to me through the many arguments with my Dipper friends that I had become lazy,voting NDP more out of habit than conviction.

Luckily I have found a new home in the Socialist Party.

John F said...

I just saw the results on the CBC news site. My thoughts:

1. RIGHTPOCALPYPSE AVERTED. Whew!

2. The Liberals got a majority, which is...good? A Liberal/NDP coalition might have been better.

3. The NDP did better than I expected, considering Horwath's assiduous efforts to alienate everyone of every political stripe.

4. Kathleen Wynne is an out lesbian, and it wasn't even remotely an issue in the campaign. I love my country!

laura k said...

John F, re #4 when your comment came through I had just finished typing that very same thing on Facebook. VERY cool.

I would have been happier with a Liberal minority, but the worst didn't happen. Whew is right!

laura k said...

Hey Kev, I was wondering about your vote. Thanks for stopping by.

Socialist Party of Ontario

James Redekop said...

I would also have preferred a Liberal minority; failing that, it would have been nice to see the NDP as the official opposition.

On the other hand, it's been fun reading the Sun's over-the-top headlines: "Return to HELL!", "Get Ready for a Horror Show!", etc. I think they're renting headline writers from Fox News.

Now I'm looking forward to watching Rob Ford follow Tim Hudak into obscurity...

John F said...

@James Redekop: The Sun never changes! When I lived in Alberta, the Calgary Sun used to do the same thing. The day after Pierre Trudeau gave his farewell speech at the Liberal convention, their headline was, "WE'RE FINALLY RID OF TRUDEAU!!!"

James Redekop said...

Some good news -- I saw a Star headline saying that the NDP blames their poor performance on the "perceived move to the right". So they don't seem to be thinking that they have to move more rightward...

allan said...

"Perceived"?

I guess that's what the NDP has to say, but claiming that any supposed right-ward shift - it may not exist at all! - is really all in our heads is highly offensive.

James Redekop said...

I have no idea who introduced the "pereived" -- I just saw the headline on a paper as I cycled past -- so I can't say who to blame for it.