06 February 2013

The Growing Divide between the Representative & the Represented

This is so very, very good. Glen Pearson gets right to the heart of the problem of the growing disconnect of citizens from their governments and politics generally. The entire piece is excellent and I urge people to read it in its entirety.

A few snippets:

There is ... a survival mechanism in citizens that learns to ignore, even despise, the machinations of MPs, MPPs, prime ministers, councillors, reeves and mayors. It is a bitter lesson to learn as a politician that your own ineffectiveness, limited by polarization, earns you the title of 'redundant' in the eyes of citizens. They must go on with the important things of their lives because they can no longer count on you to place their interest above that of your party....

Citizens have learned to do without you and you slowly learn to take them less and less into account.... You become an anomaly: a politician without a people. They grow confused at your aims, baffled and exasperated at your preference for party over people, and your refusal to take the important things of their lives into account....

You can champion [your constituents'] cause or not. Your tragedy is that you won’t pay the price to do that. Their tragedy is that they have given up on looking for someone who will.

The problem transfers to political contests, whether they be elections, nominations or leadership races. With the exception of citizens who are staunch partisans, voters and the potentially represented want to hear and see your passion about policy, not bombast vilifying personalities.

Consensus can rarely be achieved when politicians have demonized those in other parties, when they have created an atmosphere of Us vs. Them. Indeed, in today's politics, consensus appears to be the furthest from any politician's mind.

At least that's how citizens read it.

As a (potential) politician, if you want more disengagement of your party's membership or the citizenry, keep up with the status quo and continue your allegiance to party at all costs. If you have entered, or plan to enter politics, because you care about the issues important to those seeking to be represented, then: stand your ground, offer and be passionate about the issues, be bold in presenting your solutions, and don't back down from those who would target you and not your proposed policies.

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03 February 2013

LPC Leader Candidates Confused over Voting Systems & Ballots

The following I just sent off to the Justin Trudeau campaign. However, it might equally have been sent to other candidates running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In reading Justin Trudeau's policy regarding electoral reform, I came across the following comment:

"I do not support proportional representation because I believe deeply that every Member of Parliament should represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties. I support a preferential ballot..."

Trudeau appears to confuse the type of ballot voters use with the voting system to which the ballot is applied. He also appears to consider only forms of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) to be proportional representation systems. Both views are incorrect.

I am a British Columbian. My province has had experience with the issue since 2005, when our first electoral reform referendum was held.

The electoral system that BC's Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform recommended was the Single Transferable Vote. Like the Alternative Vote which Trudeau favours (and other Liberals say they support but which is yet another majoritarian system like FPTP), STV uses the preferential ballot. Unlike AV, the STV is a system of proportional representation. In fact, STV has been argued to be superior to MMP precisely because its raison d'ĂȘtre is proportional representation of voter constituencies, not proportional representation of parties.

If Trudeau is serious about wanting Canada's voting system to "represent actual Canadians and Canadian communities, not just political parties," then he should be enthusiastically pushing for STV and not perpetuating the myth that any discussion of PR vs. FPTP is one of MMP vs. FPTP or a one-tick ballot vs. a preferential ballot.

Chrystal Ocean
Liberal Supporter
Duncan BC

If politicians or political candidates are going to comment or, worse, develop policy on an issue, it behooves them to learn some of its pesky minutiae. As it stands concerning electoral voting systems, the vast majority of politicians have a muddled perception of them.

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