Opinion » Maxed Out

Do the math...win an election?

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I used to have this political science professor who, notwithstanding his long tenure and distinguished scholarship, insisted on teaching the Intro to Poli Sci course to new freshmen every autumn. Other than that, his course load consisted exclusively of senior-level and graduate seminars.

Every year, he'd walk into the lecture hall, peer out over the sea of fresh-faced suckers and launch into his lecture: "Politics is all about the art of compromise and takes place in the realm of the possible. It's ugly, it's dirty and quite often, it's amoral. If you believe it's about ideology, right and wrong, good deeds and social justice, I'd suggest you leave now and change your major to philosophy. You have until the next class to decide."

And then he'd leave. End of lecture.

It was his version of shock and awe. It was also a reasonably good way to winnow down the freshman class. He wasn't above arguing about the ideological underpinnings of political parties and historical movements, he just didn't want anybody to have any illusions about the real work of politics.

If more of the voters of British Columbia had taken his class, we'd probably have an NDP government this week. I'm not suggesting that's necessarily a good thing, I'm just making an observation.

This was an election where, frankly, I felt I didn't really have a horse in the race. I couldn't countenance the Liberals. They have, over the past 12 years, been duplicitous and underhanded. Their dishonesty undermined one of the few good policies they actually implemented, the HST. Slipping it in through the back door shortly after an election during which they said they had no intention of doing so doomed it to failure. It's the way they ran, cutting sweet deals that had the effect of simply transferring wealth to their business partners, putting a price on everything and generally trailing a bad smell behind them.

But I was under no illusions about the ability of the NDP to run the province. The party lacks depth, is financially naïve, would have zero working relationship with Ottawa under the Supreme Leader's regime, and was stuck with a leader who displayed few leadership skills and all the charisma of a bowl of cold oatmeal.

If ever there was an election where spoiling one's ballot or voting for "None of the above" seemed reasonable, this may have been the one.

The problem though is that too many people didn't spoil their ballot — they wasted it. They wasted it because they never learned the lesson my prof taught all his first-year students in that abbreviated first lecture. They wasted it because they voted their ideology. They wasted it because they voted their heart. They wasted it because they don't have a clue how the game of politics is played. And it won't be the last time they waste it.

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