This is going to sound harsh but here goes….listen up you lily-livered-small “l” liberals (eg. Liberals, NDP and Alberta Party members) there’s NO SUCH THING as a “strategic vote” in the upcoming Alberta election. A “vote” is an exercise of choice. If your only choices are “the devil you know” (PCs) or “the devil incarnate” (Wildrose) then you’re choosing between the devil and the devil. That is not a “choice”; that’s an act of resignation and despair.
Furthermore a “strategic vote” in this election is not even remotely strategic. A decision is “strategic” only if it helps you reach a goal or objective. Re-electing the PCs under a leader to be determined later (let’s face it, the old guard will dump Alison as soon as this debacle of an election is over) is not moving the centre-left any closer to its goal of forming government. So ask yourself what is strategic about refusing to vote for the centre-left at a time when the PCs are most vulnerable?
The answer given by many centre-lefties is galling (I told you this would sound harsh). They won’t vote for the candidates who best represent their values because they’re afraid. They’ve swallowed the PC line that only the PC party can protect Albertans from the wild-eyed fanatics because the centre-left is too diffuse and will split the vote. Really?
This is a very volatile election. There are 2.3 million voters in Alberta. More than 40% will turn out (bet on it) on election day. Given this environment it’s a little early for the PCs to call the results in each riding, don’t you think?
Instead of stampeding like a startled gaggle of geese—no wait, not geese, they’re feisty birds, more like frantic lemmings pushing each other off the political precipice—we would be well advised to heed the words of others who are watching this election very closely.
John Ralston Saul, the philosopher, writer and former Albertan said “the concept of an open, inclusive and egalitarian society…is reliant on individuals seeing themselves as having the power to shape their civilization.”* Let’s not meekly give up our power to shape Alberta’s society simply because the PCs have frightened us into “voting strategically”.
And be aware that by “voting strategically” we’re actually punishing the centre-left parties and the MLAs who’ve struggled long and hard to protect the social institutions we hold dear—public healthcare, public education, a thriving environmentally sustainable economy, an equitable royalty/tax structure and, most important, a democratic transparent government.
Mr Mason, NDP leader, said it best when he urged voters to ignore the “family feud” in the conservative camp and elect as many centre-left MLAs as possible because they will hold the balance of power in the Legislature for the next 4 years. (Of course he’s hoping that these power brokers will be NDP MLAs, but that’s your call).
If John Ralston Saul and the opposition party leaders can’t convince you, how about Calgary Mayor Nenshi? He said “It’s always best to vote for someone rather than against someone”.** That deafening roar of approval you just heard came from Mayor Nenshi’s supporters who stuck with the underdog against overwhelming odds and had the supreme satisfaction of seeing him defeat two well known and well funded rivals.
It’s time for the small “l” liberals to man up, to fight the panicky urge to vote strategically and replace it with the analytical process of thinking strategically. Take a page from John Ralston Saul—stay cool, very very cool. Listen carefully to what your local MLA candidates are saying. Weed out the rhetoric, the fear mongering and the overblown promises. And then vote, coolly, calmly and analytically.
Here’s how I worked through my decision:
- Not PC because Alison failed to deliver on the promises she made in the leadership race (it doesn’t matter why); also she’s disavowed any responsibility for her part in the bad decisions made by the PCs during the 4 years she was Justice Minister. I’m holding her accountable. Her “I am frightened” campaign was the last straw. A “frightened” MLA does not deserve my vote.
- Not WR and not just because of their tolerance of intolerant MLAs (how did those yahoos make it through the candidate screening process?) but because the WR is founded on the belief that the free market is the best solution for all that ails us. Economic formulae may be elegant but they create a false sense of reality; when the formula fails to deliver the expected results, the fallout is devastating (the financial meltdown in the US is a prime example).
- Carefully considered the non PC/WR candidates in my riding which, as luck would have it, is Calgary Elbow, Alison Redford’s riding. Normally I’d turn to change.alberta.ca for guidance, but there is none. So I attended forums, met the candidates and did my on-line research. I’ve made my decision and I’m comfortable with it.
We’re at a fork in the road in Alberta politics. It’s time to decide. Do you break left or break right? You have a split second to consider your decision. If you break right and vote PC make sure you’re voting FOR the PCs and not AGAINST the WR. That split second decision will determine whether you are willing to spend the next 4 years governed by fear.
Good luck on election day. See you on the other side once the dust settles.
*Calgary Herald Online, Apr 18, 2012
**Calgary Herald, Apr 20, 2012, A5