14 October 2008

Making system work not all up to voters

Someone over at another blog made the following comments:

All I am asking is that the rest of us ... appreciate how those most informed on this critical issue are so conflicted in our allegiances... Let’s hope that in the next government ... we begin the process of moving to a new electoral system where people no longer have to make such undemocratic decisions at the ballot box. [my emphasis]

I haven't linked to the post since it's the content which I want to address, not the person who wrote it and who included his professional accreditation after his name, as though to give extra force to his argument.

The comment is paradigmatic of countless arguments we've seen over the course of this campaign.

First, I've known people who never made it past fifth grade who've demonstrated more wisdom and perspicacity than all the academics and professionally-certified I've met combined. And I've met a lot of them.

Second, the other portion I highlighted employs less than all the facts by, for example, omitting one role which party leaders in this democracy should be playing.

Voters are never forced to vote this way or that, at least not in Canada, and we're certainly never forced to make an undemocratic decision. The democratic choice is always to vote for the party which represents the values, policies and platform which the voter thinks are best for Canada - and, for some voters, the world. If voters choose to vote other than this way, so be it. But don't suggest that we're forced to do so. We are not.

In this democracy, which is currently saddled with a two-party voting system, it is up to party leaders to make the system work democratically and to fix it when it doesn't. It is up to our party leaders, when necessary, to form a coalition government - indeed, a government which amounts to a majority - which represents the will of the people, as democratically expressed at the ballot box. That party leaders have never done so at the federal level is reflective of their choice to allow the voters' choice not to be honoured. It is these leaders' own moral failure, not that of the voters, to make our representative democracy work.

The argument employed in the above comment has placed the entire onus for the results of the current election on the backs of voters, whereas the responsibility lies with both voters and the parties we elect to make the current system work and to change it when it doesn't.

I agree that this system needs changing, urgently. In fact, beginning the process toward proportional representation should be the first order of business of the new government.

Recommend this post