Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strategic Voting

I don't know how much 'strategic voting' there was in yesterday's Alberta election, but I do personally know many who did. Take one man for example, who is a liberal and has had the Alberta Party symbol as his FB profile photo for weeks - but he went out and voted PC in his Calgary riding of Calgary-Fishcreek. Right now the votes for that riding are not yet tallied, putting the encumbent (who crossed the floor from PC to Wildrose 2 years ago, but has been that district's MLA for almost 20 years, since 1993) only 17 votes behind the PC as of 630am today.

So at least one of those 17 leading votes was cast by someone who does not normally vote PC but was directly hoping to stop WR from winning in their riding. That's their right, I guess, but it still seems pretty funky to me. He posted a photo of himself next to the PC Candidate from his riding's sign, shrugging his shoulders and making a 'face' and he titled the photo 'I hate myself but......' and the 20 post discussion under the photo is about other liberal voters who also went PC this year to try to block off the WRP. Interesting.

I also read where many were trying to make themselves feel better by discussing how they felt Redford isn't that bad, or talk of how they cannot believe people would vote for a party who has openly anti-gay members. The thing is, those candidates lost in their ridings so the people in those districts spoke and said No to the WR candidates who were in the center of this mess, but also a point to note is that Ted Morton, PC who tried to introduce Bills into the legislature that directly affected gay rights (amongst other people's rights), also lost his seat. The people spoke, in my opinion. They did not want those men at the helm and they proved it with their votes, with all three losing by healthy percentages. A message to both parties perhaps? We could go into the validity of the claims of anti-gay WRP members, but that's a different story.

What I am watching and wondering about is the number of Liberal and NDP voters who put their little X next to the PC candidate, and how that will affect the outcome and the next 4 years. I went with Wildrose in my riding and they won, but I watched 4 city forums on tv and read the websites of the candidates and watched their twitter and FB pages, and I liked what my candidate had to say. He talked so much about govt overspending and gave specific examples of what WR wanted to do, rather than stick to talking points and general comments, and I liked what he had to say. How many other people did that? How many paid attention to what was actually on the table? Or did they watch the news about the anti-gay WR candidates (as the media portrays them) and go with that instead of checking into it? What about the decade or so the gay community fought tooth and nail for recognition and written rights from the PC govt? Is that all water under the bridge now, and they embrace that party in order to push back Wildrose?

Personally I did not expect WR to win anyway. I think it takes time to build up the party and they did well - the media can post all they want about the PC majority, but how many seats did they lose? In 2009 Wild Rose only had 1 seat elected, and then over time, 3 more crossed the floor. But only 1 was elected in the last round - and now they have around 17. That means PCs and some Lib and perhaps NDP LOST seats in the legislature - leaving more WildRose in there. Strategic voting may have helped win some seats, like even perhaps the Calgary-Fishcreek seat, but all three other parties LOST seats to the Wildrose party. Albertans have spoken, Alison Redford is correct.  I read liberal friends talking this morning about how 'since the PCs got so many Liberal votes, maybe they will change their tune a little bit', meaning move more to the LEFT. But I look at it a different way - despite the majority result, the PCs had a scare and they see a heck of a lot of Albertans voting 'a little bit more to the right' and they may have to adjust accordingly. Bring themselves back closer to center if nothing else, or even a little bit more right. Who knows. But are they going to move further left when they know that WR will be working hard the next 4 years and may win even more seats next time? Or not... who knows.

But I also saw people from my city complaining that the Nazi Party was elected here, since WR took it from the PCs in both the city and outlying rural riding. What? Nazi party? OMG whatever. I laughed but then I was annoyed. I feel like if I go around acting pleased for the WR win, I am going to be branded a nazi. In alberta? in Canada? People here called the WRP an 'extreme right' party, when in reality they are more like center, even if their plan was to eventually move further right. Nazi party my lord.

It should be interesting for the next four years. My advice to WR is to discuss and check their candidates, but to also come out on offense more often - explain in much better detail that people have the right to speak their mind, and that should be something that is celebrated here. I support someone's right to speak their opinion on social issues, even if I think their opinion is idiotic, insensitive, and bigoted. It is becoming a bit of a mess - all this 'tolerant' stuff. You can be tolerant until you are branded intolerant, and then everyone else is intolerant of your intolerant opinion. I can tolerate someone else's bigoted opinion - Ive met a lot of people in my time who have differing views than mine. If I do not wish to associate with them any longer due to their views, that is also my choice. But I tolerate them in the way that I know that they have a right to think the way they want, and whether I think it is misguided or wrong does not matter. I can have a discussion with them or I can walk away, but either way that is tolerant of their views, is it not? But there has been a lot of media lately about how various PCs, including the Premier herself, have said that the words spoken or written by certain WRP candidates were 'unacceptable'. What does that mean exactly? They have the right to speak their mind about those opinions, but I read several passages where the responses were decidedly intolerant in the way that it seemed to me they were saying those candidates should not hold those opinions and have no place in govt position. So they are talking about holding someone back from a chance at an elected position because of personal beliefs? Is that not wrong at the base of our Charter and human rights? It's a tough one. But as I said earlier, the people in those ridings did not vote them in, the people have spoken. And they have spoken across Alberta - though I find the strategic voting a little bit strange.

Why? Because Wildrose was very clear that they are not going to legislate on social issues, while the PCs DID put in legislation (such as Bill 44 passing while Redford was Justice Minister, and Morton's attempt at bill 208). So a lot of liberal voters went PC, to the party that DID legislate on social issues, instead of a party that said social issues such as that would not be legislated on. Interesting. Very interesting.

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