Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Voting strategically leads to disappointment

The suggestion that strategic voting is the method whereby Canada can elect Stephen Harper out of office makes no sense.

The only reason that folks are suggesting the need for strategic voting is because voter turnout continues to decline or to put it another way the right is successful at getting its vote out while apathy reigns on the left.

I have heard the argument in favour of strategic voting in two Greater Vancouver ridings. Let's start with the easy one - Burnaby Douglas. Traditionally a NDP stronghold the Conservatives came very close to grabbing this seat in 2008. The SV camp is saying vote NDP and not Liberal to ensure that the Conservatives don't take this seat. The truth of the matter though is that the NDP failed to get out its vote at the last election. Not really a failing on the part of the NDP - it has more to do with people not bothering to vote.

Avaaz the organization and website talks of "hope" if voters galvanize around the NDP to the benefit of the Greens and the Liberals too by ensuring the Conservatives don't take Burnaby Douglas. All that Avaaz is doing is generating the NDP vote. SV is when people swap votes in separate ridings which could result in swings to a different party taking office in both of those ridings. So a SV in Burnaby Douglas would be Liberals voting Conservative. It's a terrible thought but not that far from reality when you consider how close these parties are in ideology. The Liberals might be talking left now but that would change once elected. It's the Liberals that scrapped the National Housing Program in 1993.

The true concept of SV is one that really is apparent in Vancouver Centre where voters are considering voting for Karen Shillington running for the NDP and ousting veteran Liberal MP Hedy Fry. This is really is an exciting riding to watch considering that Adriane Carr is also running for the Greens. The way things stand right now though Carr could come in a sorry fourth. The so called "Orange surge" could topple Fry and put the NDP in power in Vancouver Centre. It would be a fantastic result for Shillington and her party.

For any party to win Vancouver Centre however it is going to take a strong voter turnout for that party. The Conservatives don't appear to have a foothold in the riding so it could come down to just a battle between the Liberals and the NDP. If the left can get its vote out in large numbers strategic voting becomes redundant.

Left energies are better spent organizing working class action to get the vote out for the NDP at this election. Voting with your class and a clear conscious is the only way to avoid feeling upset at your voting choice once the results come in. Voting for the party that best represents your view of what society should look like be it a left or right outlook won't result in disappointment post election.

Should Harper get the majority government the time spent by the left organizing the working class vote can then be refocused to the general struggle. It's not as if a Harper majority equals Conservative victory and left collapse. It's a step towards increased polarization between the working class and capital.

Likewise a Liberal minority, looking unlikely, is more of the same. Coalition would be a positive step and surely the Governor General could not ignore the possibility of a coalition government this time round but again it's apathy outside of elections that lets the elite manoeuvre the system to suit their aims.

If you vote strategically you are voting on a hope that everyone else will also do so and there's no guarantee that the person you are vote swapping with will follow through and remember how will you know if they did or did not. The only safe vote is a vote with your beliefs.

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