Monday, November 02, 2009

Democracy is about ideas, not just tactics

Hey, here’s a great way to improve our democratic system!

Let's give voters less choice!!

That's the brilliant idea Michael Byers, a political science teacher at UBC, spelled out in this Toronto Star column.

The way Byers, who once ran as a NDP candidate, sees it, there's only one way to prevent the Nasty Harper Tories from winning a majority government and that's for the New Democrats and Liberals to form a pact.

He is not suggesting a Liberal-NDP "coalition" or anything sordid like that, but merely a political arrangement of convenience.

"The Liberals and NDP," Byers writes, "should agree to not run candidates against each other in the next campaign. In each riding, the party whose candidate fared worst in the last election would pull its current candidate out, or refrain from nominating one. Both parties would win more seats, with the Liberals potentially forming a majority government."

Interesting idea.

Yet let’s face it, this will never happen. There’s no way in Narnia the Liberals and NDP would ever agree to pull candidates out of the race just to help each other out.

That would be like the Toronto Maple Leafs throwing games to help the Montreal Canadiens make the playoffs. (This assumes the Maple Leafs were actually good enough to actually throw games.)

But even if Byers' plan was realistic and even it were put into practice would it work?

The short answer is: nope.

The problem with Byers' idea is that he assumes there is a mass and widespread hatred among Canadians directed against Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government. He likely assumes this because he has a mass and widespread hatred of the Harper government as do all his academic friends.

So a victim of his own groupthink, he believes if you deny a Liberal voter the chance to vote for a Liberal or a NDP supporter the chance vote for a New Democrat, these orphaned voters will automatically vote for whichever candidate is left opposing the Tories.

NDPers would embrace Michael Ignatieff and Liberals would warm up to Jack Layton.

But there are also other equally plausible scenarios. It’s possible there are many Liberals who don’t like and would never support the NDP and vice versa.

As a result, if their favourite party is not running in the race they might just stay home and not vote.

Or they might just vote Conservative. Certainly many Liberals would find more in common with the Conservative Party than they would with the socialist, big-union-dominated NDP.

And let’s not forget, there’s a populist element in the NDP (especially in Western Canada) that would rather cast its support with the Tories than with the adscam-stained, urban-oriented Liberals.

In other words, Byers’ scheme might actually help the Conservatives win a majority government.

Ironic isn’t it?

That’s why instead of playing these silly tactical games, political parties should simply provide voters with a vision of where they want to take the country and leave it at that.

Democracy usually works better that way.

Crossposted at Libertas Post.


Anonymous said...

I think the one social/cultural reality the late 20th century and early 21st has made evident to us is that academia and the science community are awash with 'quacks'.

Here's another prime example. Does it really surprise us another product of public education statist indoctrinating, blooms in the tawdry dogmatism of the statist-collectivist crucible our sinecured academic culture has become - then offers 'expert' opinion which reflects the oafish mediocrity of statist collectivist thought.

Be nice to see some academic opinion in which reflects classic liberal independent inspired critical reasoning instead of the steady stream of control-freak sophistry from martinet technocrat quacks - we wish.

wilson said...

This does not sound like Dippers and Libs forming a friendly united left to oust Harper:

re: Dippers and the Adscam motion

"We're very much aware there are lots of unanswered questions on the sponsorship scandal and we're ready to employ whatever means are necessary to help Canadians get to the bottom of what happened to their money," said Mulcair.

Anonymous said...

I really can't see the difference between this and the coalition. Byers says this would yield a liberal majority, but is there anyone who believes for an instant that the NDP support required to give them the keys to the piggy bank wouldn't come with some very onerous conditions?

Anonymous said...

NDP poli-sci professor that lives on Saltspring Island=Socialist moonbat.

Roy Eappen said...

Do the grits really want to be seen as less of a national party than they already are?

Bec said...

Do you mean less that Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, Gerry?

They may consider this a suggestion, far to tempting to resist. After all their propensity to anointment's....

Anonymous said...

Please don't make wide-based assumptions about "academics." Many Tories forget that yours truly is a retired academic.

True, I was in the minority but there were many other small "c" conservatives in the university where I worked. In fact, as in society in general, there is no particular "group think" anymore than any other occupational community.

Bec said...

Sorry Gerry, I meant to that to be a response to, Roy.

Gabby in QC said...

From Michael Byers' piece:
"The only post-election condition in the agreement should be an unqualified public commitment to holding a national referendum on proportional representation within the first year. ...

Proportional representation would produce a much fairer allocation of seats than our current first-past-the-post system and boost voter turnout and political engagement by making every vote count. ..."

So, first the professor would use the FPTP system to advantage in order to defeat the Conservatives, and then, once conveniently in power, the NDP/Lib alliance would push PropRep, which would result in fringe groups or one-issue parties perhaps gaining some seats.

First he wants to reduce the number of parties to bar the Conservatives from power, then increase it in order to have ... what exactly? A higgledy-piggledy collection of one-issue MPs. Makes sense, right?

The prof. also states:
"Many New Democrats might wish to make the immediate introduction of proportional representation a condition of the ceasefire agreement, since a referendum might not produce the desired result."

The very "democratic" professor does not trust the people to make the "desired" choice, eh? Geez, he sounds like the PQ crowd who want a neverendum referendum hanging over Quebecers' heads.

Byers is a reject from some American university. We should sue the Americans for dumping that kind of toxic waste on us.

Susaan said...

Great commentary Gerry. Byers is always a head shaker here in Vancouver. You state it much better but Byers obviously hangs around with a stifled crowd of similar groupthink. Many of these people just cannot fathom that we find boring, solid, steady, strength of character, attractive in PM Stephen Harper. They somehow feel morally superior to those they tiredly and divisively call Reform Alliance CRAP Conservatives.
And it always seems that the final straw has to include changing the whole electoral system with proportional Italian ten toppings pizza type representation.

Patrick Ross said...

This is the same Michael Byers who got upset when the Harper government suspended diplomatic relations with Iran over their treatment of the Zahra Kazemi case.

Byers thinks that Iranian prison guards beating and raping a Canadian citizen to death shouldn't result in so much as a diplomatic hiccup with that country.

The man is, quite frankly, stupid. Regarded far too high above what his talents -- for anything but being a blinkered ideologue -- justify.

Anonymous said...

"The man is, quite frankly, stupid. Regarded far too high above what his talents -- for anything but being a blinkered ideologue -- justify."

As I said, we live in an era awash in 'official' and 'expert' quacks.

Seems every 'respected' opinion source is running some form of con or another to justify their lush sinecure.