I’ve been thinking a lot lately about politics. Maybe it’s just the election coming up, where I encourage all eligible voters (even the ones that disagree with me) to go out and vote, because it’s important. At least, it should be, and maybe it would be if more people bothered. Last time, Canadians set a new record for poorest voter turnout in nearly a century and a half. Pick five eligible voters at random – odds are, two of them couldn’t be bothered to vote last time. Is anyone surprised that we have a system where the politicians don’t seem to care what the electorate thinks? Where they seem to think they can get away with damn near anything short of drowning baby seals in orphan tears without fearing voter reprisal? Quebec seems to be doing better, I’d really like to know what their secret is to getting the young to vote. I suspect, being in the middle of that age range myself, that the 1995 referendum (won by fewer than 55000 votes) may have convinced the youths there that their vote does indeed matter.
So, what’s the secret to changing this? How bad do things have to get before people care enough to get out and vote? I rather like this guy‘s idea: lower the voting age to 16, and get the high school teachers motivating the students to get involved. Perhaps more attention given to ridings that had particularly close votes in the media, particularly the online and social media that younger voters are more likely to be paying attention to. Perhaps we just need things to get screwed up enough that people finally get angry enough to go out and vote, but that’s a situation I’d rather not see. I’m definitely going to do my part this time and vote (as I have in every election since I turned 18), as well as encouraging everyone I know to get their butts down to the polls and have their say. It seems that our elections are decided by the seniors, since they turn out more reliably than youths, and they tend to vote conservative. I suspect this can be traced to two things: older people tend to be more socially conservative, and they don’t have to deal with the long term consequences of Conservative policies. Because they’re old and won’t live for very long.
What would I like to see, you ask? (I’m assuming you’re asking. You’re reading my blog, so I’m taking it as a given that you value my opinions. Or you’re here to leave some French casino spam.) Well, if I was running for office in this election (which I’m not, since the deadline has passed, and I haven’t got the time or money to run independently at the moment and I lack the connections to get nominated by any of the parties anyways), this would be my platform. If you are running in this or any future election, please feel free to take these ideas and not screw them up too badly.
First up would be to fix the broken first past the post system. How does 37.6% of the vote turn into 46.4% of the seats? While 18.2% turns into 12.0% of the seats, and 8% of the votes turn into 0 seats? The Green Party got nearly a million votes, and the BQ with 1.3 million votes got 49 seats while the Greens got none. Something seems wrong here. So the first thing, the day one thing, is to fix that. This should have been fixed years ago, decades ago. Why not? Because the people that have the power to change it are those least motivated to do so (because they benefit the most from it). The only parties that take it seriously are the ones that can’t get into power because this system keeps them marginalized.
My second goal if I found myself in office would be to break up the skewed power structure we’ve got in this (and, sadly, many if not most) countries. Elections can be bought, laws and politicians can be bought, and nothing seems to be able to change that. And, hey, surprise! The politicians that get money from the rich and powerful focus heavily on pushing through legislation to help the rich and powerful. The tax code, the budget, and the legal system in its entirety need a top-down scrubbing to make them fit what I feel should be the goal of any decent government: serving the voters, all of the voters, as best as is humanly possible and as fairly as possible. Preschoolers can be taught to play fair, so why does this seem to be so hard to pull off in a parliament allegedly composed entirely of competent adults?