Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wakey, Wakey...

Nation, a lot of partisan hacks are already all over the web, claiming that these results are invalid because of the low voter turn-out. They're saying that over a million voters stayed home because they had no one to BELIEVE in, and this fact invalidates the result. Well, if that's the case, then in 4 years I fully expect those holier-than-thou abstainers to run for office themselves, to give the rest of us great, unwashed sheep someone in which to believe. While the voting numbers are concerning, the fact remains that nearly a million Albertans gave enough of a damn to take the time to make their voices count - and over half of them voted for the PC's. Whether or not you like their choice, you have to respect it - it is, after all, THEIR GOVERNMENT.

Which brings me to my second point: Many people are declaring that the voters were "wrong", or "mistaken" in making their choice last night. They were "fooled" into thinking the PC's were really conservative. Or the WAP needs to re-organize, to save Albertans from themselves.

I touched on this last night, but I'll mention it again: The voters are right. Every time. They made their choice in the ballot box, and their decision is incontrovertible. Indisputable. In a democracy, the engaged citizenry decides - and, last night, they did.

While the voting system may be flawed, while the seats may be awarded ridiculously out-of-proportion to the vote totals, while MANY things are wrong with our electoral process, and need to be fixed... the people who spoke decided, and the people's decision is right. Always.

That is the very essence of democracy - the people didn't say "The PC's are truly conservative", or "Ed Stelmach is a sexy beast!", or anything of the sort. What they said was "We choose the Progressive Conservatives to govern us. We voters - who have the only opinions worth noting - choose the PC Party, and Ed Stelmach, and endorse his platform above the others presented to us... pundits, experts, and intellectual dissidents be damned."

You may not agree with their choice, but it is the most basic of democratic principles that they be allowed to make it. You can even decide that they made a mistake.

But they didn't. They never do. They made their choice, and got exactly the government they deserved.

And so did those who stayed home.

* * * * * * *

I noticed a little love from Archie over at the Journal blogs. Archie, *I'M* awake. :)

Let's get the ball rolling, and knock the rust off those political gears, Nation.

Cabinet picks?

In the form of "comments", please. :)

19 comments:

son of gaia said...

Yeah, well...

"Well, if that's the case, then in 4 years I fully expect those holier-than-thou abstainers to run for office themselves, to give the rest of us great, unwashed sheep someone in which to believe"

Why would they do that, if their Abstaining truly was a statement that they have no faith in the electoral system as it is now? To become a part of that system - a candidate in it - would be to endorse it as having some kind of validity.

I've often voted for people I felt I could "believe" in - only to have them succumb to the anti-democratic shenanigans of our current system. Most recently, I joined the PC party and supported Ed Stelmach as PC Party leader. He won, but then proceeded to endorse and support the legislative agenda of another leadership candidate - Dave Hancock - reversing & betraying his positions on two key policies.

You're not proposing that I ought to "run for Premier", I assume, as that would obviously be an impossibility? That would take years of working my way up the ranks of a Party, being forced to betray my principles over & over along the way apparently.

"While the voting numbers are concerning, the fact remains that nearly a million Albertans gave enough of a damn to take the time to make their voices count - and over half of them voted for the PC's. Whether or not you like their choice, you have to respect it - it is, after all, THEIR GOVERNMENT."

Correct. It is THEIR government. It's not necessarily the government of those who abstained from voting. If, by abstaining, the Abstainers were declaring that they don't consent to be governed by whatever government was elected then they shouldn't have to accept being governed by it - especially since it is only validly the government of those who voted for it.

"In a democracy, the engaged citizenry decides - and, last night, they did"

So...if governments and political parties demonstrate that they will not represent the interests of so many social minorities that collectively those people become a majority of the population - those people should just go along with that a vote for some randomly chosen candidate or party? How can people feel "engaged" if all major parties have refused to represent their interests? I think you mean to say that - in our system - the fraction of the population that parties are willing to represent will decide amongst themselves who runs the government. That's the reality.

Btw - I did vote last night, but I respect those who did not more than those who did.

Roy Harrold

Anonymous said...

My pick for cabinet - Alison Redford as Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Relations. Allison's c.v. makes her the perfect fit.

Anonymous said...

"I respect those who did not vote more than those who did."

WOW. What a statement.

Why is it people assume that a significant number of non-voters actually made the choice not to vote as opposed to just not voting?

Roy, give your head a shake. Children take their ball and go home when they don't like playing a game they can't win. Adults are supposed to act like adults.

Anonymous said...

Cabinet will be interesting. Does Premier keep his comment about cabinet being at 19? if so, who gets removed from the previous cabinet to make room for another Calgary Minister?

Guaranteed Ministers:(in order of their precedence)
-Ron Stevens
-Doug Horner
-Iris Evans
-Dave Hancock
-Lloyd Snelgrove
-Mel Knight
-Rob Renner
-Guy Boutilier
-Luke Ouellette
-Ray Danyluk
-Cindy Ady
-Janis Tarchuk
-Ted Morton
-Gene Zwozdesky

the question is who gets the remaing 5? Fritz? Redford? Webber? Leipert? Sherman? Lindsay? Jablonski?

it's going to be interesting. I predict 2 current Ministers won't be reappointed...i say Lindsay and Groenveld....

Anonymous said...

the fact is, if you don't like the options, go to the poll and don't mark the ballot. You still get marked as a voter, but nobody gets the vote. At least THAT sends a message, rather than assuming that the people staying home are making a statement

Anonymous said...

Spoiling a vote never sends a message. I've always felt that if I did not believe in any of the candidates (regardless of the party) a vote for the underdog sends more of a message than anything.

Enlightened Savage said...

Some interesting cabinet picks in here... I disagree that Morton will be included. If anything, last night's showing made him, in my eyes, expendable and the first person out the door.

I'm LOVING the conversation about how to register protest... this is an important discussion, with a lot of varied viewpoints. Keep 'em coming!

- E.S.

son of gaia said...

"Why is it people assume that a significant number of non-voters actually made the choice not to vote as opposed to just not voting?"

I've made no assumptions. I made a series of "If...then..." statements. I don't presume to know what motivated 59% of eligible voters to abstain from voting - but most commentators who slam people for abstaining don't seem to be troubled about assuming they are all simply lazy.

"Children take their ball and go home when they don't like playing a game they can't win. Adults are supposed to act like adults."

This is a very revealing expression of a pervasive attitude toward our political processes, and one that I believe contributes to voter apathy & low turnouts. Many self-described "politically engaged" people seem to think that politics & governance are GAMES.

This attitude is paricularly prevalent amongst political bloggers and other internet commentators, who often behave as though political parties were hockey or football teams, as though policy issues were a play-off contest. Many seem to think the "losing" side ought to just shake hands with "the winners" and move on to the next contest. That is an unrealistic perspective, but one that's not surprising coming from people so immature that they can't separate the politics they are engaged in from the sports they played as children.

Government policy-setting is not a game, it is very serious business that can have profound negative or positive impact on people's lives. Reducing policy formation to "a game" between opposing "teams" of political partisans, lobbyists & propagandists turns our electoral & legislative system into a childish joke - one that many mature adults want nothing to do with.

Roy Harrold

Kirk Schmidt said...

Ceteris paribus, yes, voting for an underdog sends a message. However, all things are not equal, especially in a growing province.

How does one distinguish whether someone has been voted 'for' versus the result of having voted 'against'. Should we not care? I can tell you straight up that those mean a lot in the numbers I analyze, and frankly it's difficult at times to ascertain what the intention was.

For example, take Calgary North West, where I am. It's grown massively since the last riding. Now, if there was no movement, and we went from PC to grit, yeah, maybe people would say it's protest. But, who's to say that it wasn't simply from a massive number of liberal voters moving into the riding?

The only problem with the spoilt ballot is that there is no distinction (normally... I have seen it, though) between an unmarked and a spoilt. So there's no way to tell if 200 votes were rejected because people can't mark in the circle properly, or that it was a protest.

However, consider 111(9) of the Alberta Elections Act
"(9) Each objection shall be numbered and a corresponding number placed on the back of the ballot that is the subject of the objection and initialled by the deputy returning officer."

So the difference is at least marked by Elections Alberta.

Jeff J. said...

I don't think you can leave Morton out of Cabinet, and not just because of a fear of what he might do, but he was a well respected voice around the cabinet table, i just don't see him being removed entirely, i think that would be a mistake. But we'll see, the one prediction i feel safe in making is that we will be surprised when cabinet is announced in some way.

I think it's more fun to predict who is going to be most upset at NOT being included in cabinet, I say most definitely-Lukaszuk, he couldn't buy his way into cabinet.

Any Roy, I think you are on the wrong blog my friend. While you definitely seem passionate in your views, i'm afraid you are in the minority here.

Anonymous said...

The only way to offically register your protest vote is to reject the ballet at the polling station.

If you look at the ballot, there is no space for voting against . . . only space for voting for someone.

If you stay home, you have said you don't care who wins, and have rejected your opportunity to have a say in who forms the government. In my opinion, if you don't care who wins, why are you complaining now?

One Alberta Voter said...

I am surprised to say this, as I am not ideologically sympathetic to Morton, but he has done a good job in the Sustainable Resource Development portfolio, providing real leadership on the important Land Use Framework file. Morton is also one of the brightest people in the government caucus when he leaves his right-wing blinders off (which he can do). If Stelmach passes him over for the cabinet, it will be only out of pettiness - and therefore not a promising sign of integrity in government.

son of gaia said...

Jeff - no, I'm in the right place...the esteemed ES was pontificating on vote abstainers vs "engaged citizens", etc. and I responded on that topic.

"...i'm afraid you are in the minority here."

Well I certainly hope so! It would be pretty difficult to be a social heretic if I found myself among the majority on issues such as these.

As for the Cabinet - with the trend toward elimination of independent legislator research and meaningful debate in government, such as the increase in all-party committee rubber stamping of policy consultant reports - why not invite one of the Liberal or NDP members to a seat at the table, eh? I'm joking of course.

How about replacing Dave Hancock with Raj Sherman? Or moving Ted Morton to Environment (just for the entertainment of watching him straight-arm the Greenpeace stalkers off the sidewalk)?

Jeff J. said...

You can't put a doctor in the health ministry, that would be trouble, it would be like putting a teacher in the education portfolio, it's just asking for trouble.

Morton in environment would be as hilarious as putting Snelgrove as the Minister responsible for women's issues.

Anonymous said...

Arno Doerksen will end up with Agriculture. First term MLA, but all the credentials and then some. Morton will stay in the cabinet mainly so the Wildrose Alliance doesn't end up with a sitting MLA.

Anonymous said...

Arno Doerksen? seriously? wow, not likely, not even slightly likely. not even a chance.

Anonymous said...

Who should be OUT of Cabinet is as important as who should be in.

OUT - Boutilier - the biggest disappointment since Oberg..and an Oberg supporter. Worst Cabinet Minister in years...and a bully just like Oberg was.

Fritz and Forsythe - no portfolio is simple enough for either of them to handle.

Tarchuk - mute and unmotivated...15minutes of fame is over.

Groenveld - ineffective and invisible.

Gourdeau - being nice is not enough anymore.

Lindsay - he got his reward for leadership support last time-not needed this time.

Enlightened Savage said...

Anon @ 10:38 - the problem with ousting Boutilier is that, for the time being, he's the only representative in the Legislature for the province's economic powerhouse, Ft. McMurray. His constituents expect that their representative in the government will be in a position reflective of their own contribution to the provincial coffers.

And Forsyth has never been a member of the Stelmach cabinet.

Ned Braden said...

Riddle me this oh Enlightened Savage: there's lots of talk of how Boutilier "has to be in Cabinet" because of Fort Mac, but then you get a voter turnout of 21%. Now I'd never want those two directly tied, but if 79% of your population doesn't vote, just how demanding are they of the Provincial Government?

It would be interesting to see how the voting is impacted by shift-work as that controls so many people's lives up there.

Melissa Blake has to be the third most important Mayor in Alberta, and she's been very vocal, much more than Boutilier in getting results. It's been said that he can do more damage outside the cabinet than in.

And I've never heard their MP is very strong either. Maybe in some circles in Ottawa.