WHAT DRIVES YOUR VOTE?
There are many elements involved in making up one’s mind when it comes to voting. Broadly speaking some folks vote based on an issue, their so-called Ballot Box Question. Then there is a preferred Party, driven by membership or other values-based alignments of affiliation. Some decide based on their impressions of a Leader. For others, they are supportive of a local candidate because of personal relationships.
Many of us decided on the advice of others who we think are more aware and informed about politics so we seek their advice and succumb to their influence. For many, it’s simply based on name recognition, impressions based on the number of lawn signs they have noticed, or an impulsive last-minute decision as we pick up our ballot and move to the voting booth.
For others, it’s a painful process of watching the news, reading papers, visiting candidate websites, reading and reflecting on party platforms, and even reaching out to campaigns with specific questions of policy or candidate personal positions on key issues and experiences.
Others vote “strategically” based on voting against the party they don’t want. They try to concentrate on others, even with different preferences, to get behind a more acceptable candidate or party. This is to avoid vote splitting where the least desirable candidate wins by coming up the middle between two other obviously better options but with diluted and divided support.
In my case, I have already done the hard work of deciding. I’ve made up my mind about my vote in the Federal election. I’m voting Liberal in Edmonton Centre. My reasons, in no order of priority, but as an integrated whole are:
MY BALLOT BOX ISSUE:
My issues are climate change and the economy. They must be considered in combination as synergistic equivalents, not one preferred over the other. The Liberals get this better than any other Party. There is an existential climate change crisis but great job and business opportunities in meeting the challenges. This is both important and urgent. The Liberals are far and away ahead on the integration of my ballot box issues.
The CPC sees the economy as dominant and climate as a secondary and frustrating burden on business. Not good enough. Their messaging and policy are catching up. The leader accepts a carbon tax now but I distrust his and the CPC’s sincerity in delivering even on this inadequate response if elected.
The NDP sees climate as dominant, and while they message about green jobs, I don’t think they grasp what it takes to move and encourage business into the reality and change behaviors sufficiently to get us to emissions reductions fast or factually enough..
On Leadership, Trudeau has done a good job. He, like all of us, has blind spots that get him in trouble occasionally. But on the big issues, he knows the job of Prime Minister and has proven he can do it, when and where it counts. He’s proven to be a good friend to Albertans from purchasing the TMX pipelines, to funding abandoned well cleanup and the most COVID cash contributions per capita in the entire country.
Mr. O’Toole is, by all accounts, a good guy. But he leads a Bad Faith Party. He won the CPC leadership by a sliver of a margin and his Base is fragmented and divided. There is no way his Party’s Candidates and membership are strongly behind many of his campaign policy positions. His campaign messages are running against the Conservative Brand. It is causing him some success in the horserace political polling but his votes are too concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan to form a government.
He is on a short political leash in the CPC. If he formed a government, he would need a majority to command the respect of his Caucus, contain and restrain CPC political operatives from undermining his authority. Even if a majority, he would have to spend too much time appeasing or opposing the extremists in his Base. That means the country would suffer. In Conservative politics, the enemy is never the other parties. It’s always the Caucus, the Contributors, and the Constituency organizations.
Mr. Singh has raised his personal profile and popularity. He has proven to be an accomplished principled political player. He is seen by many as the leader that is closest to the kind of person that understands me. Consequently, he gets a lot of benefit from the doubts attributed to other leaders. but he is not seen as Prime Minister material…not yet.
My problem is not with Mr. Singh but in the capacity of the NDP to grasp and govern the nation. He seems determined to stay firmly on the Left and is moving farther in that direction, at least so far in this campaign. That concentration on conventional NDP tropes is again driven by the demands of the NDP Base. At this time, there is much to admire about NDP persistence but their divisive approach to politics is not a winning formula to form a government.
Keeping the faith of the Left goes deeper into a pragmatic political strategy. It is driven partly by the NDP fear of strategic voting of the Left-Leaning independent voter going to the Liberals to stave off what appears to be a rising CPC.
Lastly, the reason I’m voting Liberal is because I have a great candidate in Randy Boissonnault. I’ve known and respected him as a person for decades. He was a superb MP for Edmonton and will be again. I know and admire his Character. He has proven his Competence, and his Commitment to Community is outstanding. Those are the metrics I use to assess a candidate.
THE PLACE OF POLITICAL PARTIES:
I see political parties as necessary for a robust democracy but we have ceded too much power, influence, and authority to them. We need more non-partisan, informed, and engaged Citizens to take back control of our political culture. This is absolutely necessary if we are going to preserve, promote and protect our Democracy.
We need to commit to becoming Better Citizens if we are going to Build a Better Alberta. We need to be better informed, more engaged, assertively active. We need to show up and bring our best selves to take back control of our politics from vocal and aggressive extremists and self-serving special interests.
Moderate Albertans must Citizen-up to help set pragmatic public agendas, define doable destinations and determine desired directions for the Next Alberta. We need many temperate voices and perspectives to help our leaders set priorities. We need to empathetically apply pro-social values like fairness and inclusiveness as we focus on creating a future-forward society in Alberta. Elections are great times to get serious about the roles and responsibilities of our citizenship.
Our model of Either-Or political options is totally insufficient to deal with our complex current and coming challenges. We need to elect design thinkers, not win-lose debaters if we are ever going to develop and deploy effective solutions to our challenges as a society.
MY DESIRED ELECTION OUTCOME:
I don’t trust majority governments to do the right things well in uncertain times. Why would a partisan majority really listen, learn and adapt? They are more beholden to donors and self-serving special interests in the party Base than caring about the concerns of constituents.
What makes those with absolute political power care about representative democracy? The record shows majority governments care more about pandering to partisans to preserve political power than to understanding and meeting the needs of citizens.
With that context, I want a Liberal minority government…again, but with a strengthened minority. That means more Liberals and New Democrats Members of Parliament from Alberta and Saskatchewan. We need a broader range of prairie perspectives to be represented and presented at Federal tables. Electing a perpetual monolith of Conservative MPs has not served Albertans well.
OVER TO YOU!
Have you decided on your voting preference yet? There is still time to do the reflection and the research. I am sharing my voting conclusions and my thought process to encourage you to make up your own mind and make sure you vote purposefully.
Knowing WHO you are going to vote for is not the entire question, WHAT are you voting for and WHY you are voting are critical considerations of Citizenship.
And in COVID times, HOW you are voting is a crucial question too. I am voting by mail this time. I don’t need to gather indoors to vote, so I won’t. Besides, mail-in voting keeps Canada’s Posties working.
Plato prophetically said, “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.”