Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Anyone Else Feel Like This?

Monday night I went to bed later than usual, with this feeling that I had just left a teenage boy alone for the weekend, with my keys to the car, my credit card, and the liquor cabinet unlocked. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

I could come back on Sunday night and find the car in the driveway, the keys on the table, the floors swept, and the boy finishing up his homework. However, it's just as likely I come home and half my house is blown to smithereens, the boy, my car, and my credit card are nowhere to be found, and the cops are on the front lawn taking statements from the neighbours.

Welcome to the moments after Canada's latest federal election.

As you read this, there are literally tens of thousands of people smirking in their [right] wing back chairs dismissing more than 60% of the voting population with a casual wave of the hand. "That will be all now. Thank you, and good night. Gladly go fuck yourselves for 4 years". Some other comments include, “You lost. Get over it” and “It's called democracy”. Nice touch with that last one (democracy should be in quotes though).

I, for one, was not surprised in the least. If you follow me on Twitter (@andrewbutters) you may recall this tweet.

"It's all about who wants it more. Is the desire to not lose greater than the desire to win? #elxn41 #NHLPlayoffs"

What many people not paying attention may have missed was the #elxn41 hashtag. This election, much like many of the great hockey games played in the NHL playoffs, was just as much determined by the team with the most to lose - and their desire to not lose it - as it was by the skill and principles and desire to win for the team desperately trying to avoid the dreaded "Participant" ribbon.

The Conservatives and their faithful, with everything to lose, would rather die than let the Liberals (or anyone else) rule the house. The left was well...left over. Bickering with themselves and trying to figure a way to just get their toe back in the door and working the mathematical models like some freaky autistic savant. "Majority is 155 seats. Definitely 155. Gotta win Southern Ontario and Quebec to prevent a Tory Majority. Definitely."

After the votes were counted I was disenchanted with the result (see previous post), but I was not entirely shocked either. Anyone who asked me to predict the outcome would have received a "strong minority or majority Conservative parliament" response. They wanted it more, they were more organized, and they got the right people off their asses and out voting - for them. Which is more than we can say for just about everyone else with the exception of Quebec. The rest of the country didn't want it badly enough (which is common), or didn't think it was possible (which is understandable), or just didn't care (which is sad).

Silver lining time.

Those of us not thrilled with the result have a good 4 years to figure out how to beat the system.

I think this guy summed it up really well. Harper has one chance to not screw this up. The system is broken and now we've got 4 years to figure out how to work around it. A party that receives 9% less of the popular vote received almost 50% less representation. The Conservatives were in the same boat not too long ago and they united their side of the political spectrum and now one of theirs – the rightest of the right wing even - is Prime Minister. Has been for 5 years and is safe for another 4.

Some options for the rest are to unite the left or find away to turn 15-20% of Conservative voters that the colour orange is that much better than blue. There may be other options, but don't count on electoral reform being one of them. The only thing in that area that we're going to see different is a possibly title change from Prime Minister to Supreme Overlord.

The Bloc is gone!

They lost official party status by dropping down to only 4 seats and there are a TON of Canadians that are especially thrilled with this. Don't get too excited though, the NDP (who replaced the lions share of the Bloc incumbents) has the same amount of time with Quebec as Harper has with the entire nation. There is some hope that the Bloc is gone for good though. Several of their newly elected Memebers of Parliament are first timers and are so young they can't legally drink in the US or even rent a car. When you kick someone out who has been representing you for 20 years and replace them with a bunch of newbies that's sending a message. Hell, they even elected a non-French speaking person who ran their campaign while on a trip to Las Vegas! Now that's REALLY sending a message.

A member of the Green Party was elected!

One really good thing was that Elizabeth May showed that with a little forethought and a bit of help from people who know how to work the system that you can accomplish something remarkable. Okay, maybe not remarkable, but still quite good. Parliament will be better with her in it.

So, in summary, we have:
  • a government run by a guy who has done all this 
  • 40% of all those who voted supporting him
  • 40% of the voting population still finding something better to do on election day
  • a severely wounded Liberal party
  • an extreme left wing opposition with more than double their previous best representation
  • the (almost) birth of an environmental social conscience in Canadian parliament
  • the (almost) death of the most polarizing party of the past 2 decades.
And six weeks ago people thought that this election was going to be boring.

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