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There's no such thing as vote splitting
Election day is drawing near and there have been some passionate arguments about a mythological beast called vote splitting that need to be slayed.
In the year 2015, hell froze over and the NDP formed government in a place that was, legend has it, an idyllic promised land of conservative angst and natural rule. It was called an “accidental government” by many who believed that such travesty could only befall the utopian birthplace of Reform, launch of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Wexit through the existence of “vote splitting”.
Conservative minds collectively knew that this outcome could not be the result of voters choosing to elect a non-conservative government but must instead be solely reliant upon the fact that there were too many “nearly identical” choices for people who “always” vote conservative.
It was then decreed, that a progressive conservative party that had ushered in a new era of industrial revolution coupled with social awareness and a regressive conservative party that sought to revert to a time when the Bible was the only reference one required to make decisions, become one — a “frankenparty” that paved the way for a resurrection of ‘Bible Bill’ when ‘King Ralph’ couldn’t be cajoled from his spot at the bar.
The election of the fabled “socialist” party threw conservatives into such hysteria that they were, en masse, able to secure the leadership of the progressive conservative party with the sole intent to vanquish the vote splitting terror that had taken away their God-given right to rule in the province of Alberta.
Sounds pompous (my doing) and entitled (it actually happened, though), doesn’t it?
Yet, I am fresh from a lovely disagreement with my very best friends who are adamant that “vote splitting” could upset their preferred outcome in a certain, to remain unnamed, riding in Calgary.
I don’t believe in vote splitting. A party or candidate either earns your vote or they don’t. However, the arguments I’m hearing don’t seem democratic at all and that’s why I decided to entertain myself with them in more detail.
This election is too important; Party X should have sat this one out
Who, pray tell, should be the arbiter of which party is allowed to run candidates in this fairytale land? Oh, wait, it’s not a fairytale, these lands exist and they are not called “democracies”.
They are called “totalitarian”, “authoritarian”, or “dictatorships”; the worst of which give an impression of free and fair elections even though their opponents sometimes end up in hospital or worse after carelessly ingesting poison or being in the presence of a third-story window.
What I find fascinating is that this argument is rooted in the same one that our conservative friends made after 2015.
“People didn’t mean to elect an NDP government”.
The people who voted NDP absolutely meant to elect an NDP government in the same way those who voted Wildrose had every intention of electing a Wildrose government under the incredibly uncharismatic leadership of Brian Jean (no offence — nice guy but that debate performance was cringe).
In that same election, Liberal leader David Swann was elected, as was Alberta Party leader Greg Clark, despite the fact that neither party ran a full slate of candidates (56 and 36, respectively).
Would someone like to interject that the people who voted for either of those representatives did not mean to do so?
If anyone recalls, people were lighting their hair on fire about how that was also an “important election”.
Perhaps, if we look in the mirror, we might see that much more importance is given to an election we think will not have the outcome we desire.
Too soon? I’ve only just begun.
When there are nearly identical parties/candidates to choose from…
Never blame the voter. The voter is the target audience and they will make their decision based on things you cannot even account for — and the voter doesn’t even know they are basing their decisions upon — like height, weight, and hair colour, orr a candidate’s likeness to an former boyfriend or girlfriend, mother/father/grandfather etc.
They also make choices based on the colour of the sign the candidate is holding.
That is a reality which any progressive-minded supporter is all too well aware of in this province.
Non-UCP supporters got a hearty laugh when a UCP candidate in Edmonton made a hilariously indignant post about Rachel Notley trying to “confuse” voters by wearing a blue jacket in the leader’s debate.
Yet, it was absolutely a hot topic of discussion amongst everyone who watched.
Why? Because something so seemingly superficial as what colour jacket to wear was purposefully designed because people choose to support a party, candidate, or leader based on irrational things that have nothing to do with policy, platform, or level of competence.
Also, all of my highly intelligent, albeit occasionally disagreeable, friends know this to be true.
The centrist party is just going to split votes!
We have, in 2023, a choice between a party who, for decades, has been a contentedly principled left leaning party, and a gawd-awful mess of the worst aspects of two former parties, one of which was centrist and the other of which was ideologically cemented in a place few recognize today.
The NDP proved that they could govern from the centre-left with a firm grasp on spending (it’s the lack of revenue, stupid) and the UCP proved they could govern from the centre-right while sending winks and nods to their modernity-challenged handlers and spending like a shopaholic with a shiny new credit card.
Both of these parties need the “centrist” vote and both of them spent the last eight years denigrating progressive conservative voters each and every time they attacked progressives and conservatives.
The arrogant refusal to acknowledge that both of these identities were part of a decades-long immovable voting bloc has put many of them in the unenviable position of being forced to choose one over the other.
None appreciate it, I’m sure, but a few ridings are being offered the option of not having to vote strategically, and perhaps vote instead for something or someone they do want.
As I often argue with this topic, the voter is never wrong. Parties, candidates, and leaders either earn the vote or they don’t.
One of the two frontrunners will be forced to reconcile this after the election if they want to be offered the opportunity to become government again.
And, I think that’s perfectly fair.