Now that the election is over and the dust is settling, Ms Soapbox has been reflecting on the results.
What do we make of this?
The thrust of Mr Kenney’s victory speech was that Albertans value the economy and jobs above all else. (Whether this is a conservative ideal remains to be seen, Mr Kenney mentioned the word “conservative” twice, only because it happens to be in his party’s name, the United Conservative Party).
Is he right? Do Albertans value the economy and jobs above everything else?
Let’s look at the election results: a record 71% of eligible voters went to the polls. 54.8% voted UCP, 32.7% voted NDP, 9.1% voted Alberta Party and 1% voted Liberal. Out of a total of 87 seats, the UCP took 63 and the NDP took 24. The Alberta Party and the Liberals were shut out.
Bottom line: 45.2% of Albertans supported someone other than Mr Kenney’s UCP. Not exactly an overwhelming endorsement of the free enterprise party.
Let’s dig a little further.
Ever since Jason Kenney arrived on the scene, he’s preached the same line: the NDP’s win in 2015 was a fluke and the only way to defeat the “accidental government” was to unite the Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives under the one leader who would oust the NDP.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Mr Kenney is right and the 2015 election was an aberration. If so, we can toss the 2015 election results on the slag heap and turn to the 2012 election for a more accurate representation of NDP versus conservative support. The combined WR and PC votes will serve as a proxy for UCP support.
In 2012 the NDP won 4 seats with 9.8% of the popular vote. The WR/PC won 78 seats with 78.3% popular vote.
Seven years later Mr Kenney’s UCP dropped from 78 seats to 63 seats; popular support for the UCP dropped from 78.3% to 54.8%. The NDP under Rachel Notley increased its seat count from 4 to 24 (that’s a 6 fold increase) and popular support climbed from 9.8% to 32.7% (that’s a 3 fold increase).
This dramatic shift in support—down in the UCP’s case and up in the NDP’s case—took place in the sturm und drang of a knock down drag out campaign that resulted in the highest voter turnout since 1935.
Mr Kenney can’t have it both ways. If the 2015 election was a fluke that only he could rectify by uniting the two conservative parties, then he owns the 2019 results; a decrease in conservative party seat count and popular support.
Maybe Alberta is not the conservative/free enterprise bastion he’d have us believe.
What’s your price?
Which leads me to the issue that troubled me the most.
We know why racists, homophobes, Islamophobes and misogynists (Charles Adler’s “knuckle draggers”) voted for the UCP, they picked up the dog whistles and jumped on board, what we can’t understand is why our family and friends voted for a party that espoused policies which made the knuckle draggers feel at home.
The answer lies in Winston Churchill’s pithy exchange with Lady Astor:
”Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?” Churchill asks.
“A million pounds?” says Lady Astor. “I’d have to think about it first but, in all likelihood, yes.”
“How about for a six-pence?”
“Why I never!” Lady Astor huffs. “What do you take me for?”
“That, my dear,” says Churchill, “has been established. We are just negotiating price.”
The UCP bought our friends and families’ votes for a price.
In some cases the price was high enough to get them to compromise a core principle, such as protecting the LBGTQ community or a woman’s right to choose.
The greedy ones voted for Mr Kenney because they believe he’ll lower taxes and fatten their bank accounts (even though Mr Kenney’s tax promise so far relates only to reducing corporate taxes, not personal income taxes). As for the impact of the UCP’s cuts on public services, well, they agree with Mr Kenney belief that in order to be a compassionate society, we must be prosperous first and are willing to take their chances.
The bullies voted for Mr Kenney because they think Ms Notley was too soft—when a woman negotiates she’s a push over, but when a man negotiates he’s diplomatic. They want a bellicose premier who’ll take the fight to Ottawa, and BC, and Quebec, and the environmentalists, and the Rockefellers, and their co-conspirators, and anyone else who’s made them feel like victims. The cost of their votes was the UCP’s promise to help them forget they’re living in the age known as the “twilight of the white male dinosaur.”*
Where to next??
So, what do we do as we grind through the next four years?
First, we will adopt Rachel Notley’s rallying cry: don’t look away, ever! We will not look away when the knuckle draggers go after the LBGTQ community, women, children and minorities. We will call them out wherever and whenever we find them.
Second, we will amplify the three fold increase in NDP support from 2012 to 2019. An increase of this magnitude shows NDP votes are “sticky” votes and NDP supporters don’t fade away after an election. They will get even “stickier” when the damage from Mr Kenney’s free enterprise strategy ripples through our public services and cripples our relationship with the rest of Canada.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this election, it’s that it’s made us even stronger.
*“Cause of Death: Fox News” Poem by Tony Hoagland