Saturday, December 06, 2008

Working on your follow through.

Allow me to make a detour in order to make a larger point.

Much of the loud horrible screeching coming from the CPC and the conservatives these days comes in the form of misinformation, empty rhetoric or lies. A perfect example is the parallels that have been implied between our electoral system and that of the US. The right is claiming that Canada elected a Prime Minister, and taking away his keys to Sussex is somehow undemocratic, illegal or just plain mean.

Now, I'll reiterate that I voted for no one in the House. I supported none of the parties that currently make up the our Parliament. I did not give a mandate to anybody who currently has been sent back home for Christmas. Having said that, I support the coalition, and not just because it is the lesser of two evils. The idea of cooperation is compelling to me; I just like to see people who disagree get along.

But to return to the CPC. This coalition has been called a coup. We have been told that they have no right to seek power without an election. We've been told that we elected Harper as PM. They keep repeating "undemocratic" as if a) it makes any difference, or b) it were true. They have benefitted from the alchemical nature of first-past-the-post parliamentary voting laws, and now those same laws are biting them on the ass. Now they're undemocratic. I've mentioned this all before, provided links that elaborate, and have supplied adequate snark, I think, to effectively negate these arguments.

Doesn't matter, as we've seen. The memes persist. The ideas are deeply entrenched, and much of it can be laid at the feet of the US.

That is not to say the US is to blame. They elect their state officials in a way that is vaguely similar to ours, but much longer, noisier and more expensive. The differences that matter, however, are more subtle. The average American voter casts a ballot for president. Canadians do not cast a ballot for PM, except in a few ridings. And even then, the ballot is not to elect them PM, but to give them a seat in the House, where the job of PM is decided. With me so far?

So the claim that Canadians elected Stephen Harper PM is wrong in several ways. First, he didn't run for PM, no matter what you think. He ran to be the MP, and then was given the job of PM because his friends had the most seats. However, and this is important, they did not have MOST OF the seats. So Canadians didn't elect Harper even based on the fact that they elected a lot of his friends. They didn't elect enough of them to make his job unassailable. And furthermore, the alchemy of the electoral process gave the CPC 46% of the seats (not enough, I remind you) because they got 37% of the vote. That means that the other three parties combined received 54% of the seats from 56% of the vote (the Greens got 7%).

By any objective measure, the coalition is a better reflection of the will of the people.

But, heavily influenced by the US system (the only explanation that makes any sense besides blind partisanship in the face of conflicting evidence), conservatives across the country are freaking out, using pretty inflammatory language and accusing the coalition of treason.

Now, considering just how influential the US system is in shaping the ideology and the interpretation of the law for our own conservatives, I have three questions:

First, were you a supporter of the McCain-Palin ticket?

And second, if so, how is it okay that one half of that team was literally getting into bed with a separatist, but not okay that our liberal parties are figuratively doing so?

And finally, though clearly precedent and history are not your strong suits, why is it wrong to ally with the Bloc now, but it wasn't in 2000 or 2004?

Take your time. This one's tricky.

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