3 May 2014

Two elections coming up. Yippee.

With the defeat of the Liberal budget, Ontario will have a provincial election in June. Meanwhile, mayoral Candidates are gearing up for the municipal elections in the Fall.I hate elections. We are being asked, in essence, to pick the shiniest turd out of the bunch.

The big story so far is Rob Ford heading into rehab. Rob Ford has provided ample fodder for late night talk show with his antics, and has also become the one mayor that every other incompetent mayor in the world can point to and say "See? At least I'm not that bad!"

The peculiar thing about Ford is that many of the other top candidates are actually borrowing from his platform. They have realised that Ford's talk of fiscal responsibility, ending the gravy train, etc etc has resonated with the voters. To put that another way, all the front running candidates are taking their cues from a crack head.

The other candidates are adopting his programs of subways and whatnot, though they are all very quiet on how they intend to pay for it. The big laugh out loud moment so far was Olivia Chow solemnly proclaiming that we cannot buy things for which we cannot pay. This from a tax, borrow and spend left winger. Were she Pinocchio, her nose would be longer than the CN Tower is high.

But pointing out politicians as liars is a waste of time. We should rather try and point out an honest politician. That would be a rare bird, in the sense that the passenger pigeon is a rare bird.

Even better, the municipal election will have a new voting system. We won't vote for one candidate, but three, in a ranked way. Because that isn't confusing at all, and because... actually, I have no idea why.

The proposed reforms I have seen in recent years seem to me to all begin from the wrong assumptions. Take, for instance, proportional democracy. The idea is that if a party gets 31% of the overall vote, they should get 31% of the seats in government. I agree that it sounds like a great idea, and therefore I am against it. I am not against it despite the fact that it sounds like a great idea, I am against it because it sounds like a great idea. Communism sounded like a great idea, very great that is, until someone actually tried it. I think we need to get away from great ideas. As I said, proportional democracy sounds reasonable, but its basic assumption- that we are voting for a party- goes against the basic assumptions of our system to begin with. We are not supposed to be voting for a party, but for our representatives.  In short, we are supposed to vote for a person. Voting for a party reverses that assumption: rather than voting for someone to represent us, the parties, as embodied by their leaders, are asking us to vote for their representatives. Obviously the proportional democracy principle in no way addresses this problem. Indeed, it takes what is as yet a rather informal arrangement and carves it in stone, and by doing so makes it much, much worse.

In the case of the municipal elections, we will be asked to vote for three people in a ranked way. The difficulty is that I cannot even think of one candidate for whom I wish to vote, and indeed, I wish there were a way for them all to lose. Perhaps that would be a good reform. As I think about it, I like the idea even more. We could go back to the very roots of democracy and borrow something from the Athenian constitution: Ostracism.

This is what I would like to see: Rather than ranking the candidates on the ballot, I would like to see one last slot placed at the bottom of the slate, and in that slot would be written the words "None of the Above". If None of the Above were to win the election, that would mean that everyone else on the list would be banned from politics for the next ten years. It would be our way of saying 'We want none of you. We've had enough of your incompetence, your lies, your greed and your gross stupidity. Begone, and we will start over." I like that idea very much. It has but one drawback: It sounds like a great idea.

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