Hello Imaginary Friends,
In this post I’ll be talking a bunch about Canadian and Ontarian politics but I think it should apply to any form of democratic elections.
What am I talking about
Over the past few years I’ve noticed a big push towards movements like ABC (Anything but Conservative). At first I thought it was a cool idea and something that would get people interested in voting.
It took a few years before I realized why it bugged me. It wasn’t until someone told me not to vote for a certain party because it would be “wasting my vote”. In Canada and Ontario, each electoral district has multiple candidates from different parties. There are only four parties that run candidates in each area across the province of Ontario. If you vote for a party that doesn’t have much chance of winning people will tell you that your vote is wasted.
When that person told me not to vote for a certain party (It was the one I was going to vote for by the way) I was insulted. It wasn’t because I’m deeply partisan and was insulted for my party. I don’t belong to a party and I probably never will. I was insulted because the person was saying my opinions didn’t matter. That’s a form of strategic voting and I’ve come to loath it.
Voting in the Real World
In a perfect world, everyone who can vote reads the political agendas and plans and vote according to their belief system. We don’t live in that world. In Canada and Ontario, less than 40% of people voted in the last federal and provincial elections.
That means if you ask 10 people on the bus (And they tell you the truth) if they voted, 6 of them would not have voted. So the party that won with 30% of the vote actually won with about 13% of the population who could vote.
What’s Strategic Voting
So it makes sense that when you have a Party, who is disliked you’d try to make sure they don’t get elected right? So let’s say the Darth Party is in power and their strongest political rival is the Vulcan party. You don’t like the politics of either but you’ll vote for the Vulcan party because you really don’t want to get the Darth party elected. You really preferred the politics of the Browncoat party but were told that they would never be elected and you didn’t want to waste your vote.
Guess what happens? The Browncoats get less votes and a party you didn’t believe in was elected. Maybe the Darths don’t win and you feel validated or maybe they do and you feel you’ve at least done your duty in fighting the Empire. It’s a false sense of accomplishment. Next election, after some stupid moves on the Vulcan’s part you realize they’re all scum and decide to vote Darth to make sure the Vulcan’s don’t get elected.
Why I Loath Strategic Voting
What you did was vote negatively. You didn’t vote for what you believed in, you voted against something you didn’t like.
Let’s say out of the 40% of people who voted, 5% of the 40% voted strategically instead of voting for what they believe in, we could theoretically have a completely different election result.
With the exception of some rare elections, especially in Canada, the deciding outcome is decided by a staggeringly small number of votes. And even the elections that look like they were complete unalterably wins are decided by a less than a hundred votes.
What’s my Point
In the short term, strategic voting sounds like the best policy, get Vader out of power and deal with the rest later. But it encourages an unhealthy way of looking at politics.
If you look at what’s happened the past 3-5 Federal Elections you’ll see the true cost of Strategic Voting. The political parties have decided that it’s more effective to paint their opposition as horrible monsters, or completely incompetent, than it is to have a well thought out platform.
Strategic voting is the best way to screw up the electoral process. All we end up with is a party we hated less than another.
Is that what you want? To always get something you sort of are ok with?
Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “The government you elect is government you deserve.”
Change can only happen if we trust in ourselves and each other to do the right thing, not just the least objectionable.
Well My Imaginary Friends, I firmly believe that we deserve to vote with our hearts and that in the long run it will not only make for better politics but for a better world.
What do you think?