In case you haven't emerged from whatever cabbage patch of winter denial you've been hiding out in long enough to notice, there's supposed to be a federal election this year. Autumn, if all goes according to plan; but with someone running the government who has so little respect and so much contempt for its institutions, well, ya never know.
Dusting off the old decision tree, here are the choices we'll all face. First off will be whether you vote or don't vote? Unfortunately far too many will choose the latter. I don't understand why but then, I don't understand a lot about popular culture. I don't understand "reality" television, the cult of celebrity, the lingering allure of SUVs, diet fetishes, Republicans, tofu or Coca Cola.
But I particularly don't understand why people have so little interest in politics that they don't even bother to invest enough time to at least hate one candidate less than the others and vote for him or her. It really isn't that hard and it really is the very least someone can do. I will say no more about the low esteem in which I hold non-voters.
So let's explore the branches that lead off the decision to vote. At the most basic level of analysis, you can vote for more of the same or something different, understanding that difference, within the Canadian context, isn't likely to be, shall we say, radical. But it is different, unlike those nihilistic folks who insist there's no difference between the major political parties. If you can't discern the differences between the Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic parties you're not paying attention and you might want to back up and spend a bit more time deciding whether you really want to vote or not.
Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed I did not include the Green party in that last paragraph. This was not meant to be dismissive. It was meant to point out the fact the difference between the Greenies and the other parties is as close as we get to radical in the Great White North. They believe in a smart economy as opposed to a dumb economy, strong communities, true democracy and, I wouldn't be a bit surprised, motherhood, apple pie, poutine and Nanaimo bars.
They also believe — know, actually — they don't have a snowball's chance in hell of forming a government.
Other parties, when they're out of government, believe in a lot of things they seem to lose faith in once they're in government. Proportional representation, transparency, the list is endless. Even our Supreme Leader believed in stuff when he was in opposition he wouldn't waste spit on now, like not squandering taxpayer money on blatantly partisan activities. No, seriously; he believed that.
It reminds me of an old Yiddish joke. Guy walks into a deli and asks how much a pastrami sandwich costs.
"A buck, fifty," answers the deli owner.
"I can get it down the street for a dollar and a quarter," gripes the potential customer.
"Then buy it down the street," retorts the deli owner.
"They're out," complains the customer.
"If I was out, I'd sell 'em for a dollar," quips the owner.
But I digress.
To get back to our decision tree, if you're happy with what's been going on under Mr. Harper's Conservative majority, you can vote for the Conservative candidate, whose name I won't mention because doing so usually makes me taste vomit welling up my throat. Of course, you might want to pour yourself a drink and ask yourself what exactly it is you've been liking. Is it the new, macho, warlike stance Canada's been strutting across the world stage? The enlightened climate policies? The headlong rush to develop the tarsands? The contempt of Parliament? Gutting Canadian science? Getting tough on imaginary crime? Really?
Though I could list a lot more Conservative crimes against humanity, that's enough. Even thinking about more of the same makes me want to look at cute kitten videos.
But, if you find yourself on the branch of our decision tree that's marked "something different, thank you," boy do you have more decisions to make. There are at least four branches to explore: NDP, Liberal, Green or violent, Jihadist revolution. Since I don't generally enjoy official visits from the RCMP or having my personal correspondence monitored like an endless proctologic exam, we will not be exploring that last branch.
Now, remember, in Canada's first-past-the-post system of elections, the person who gets the most votes in each riding wins. The party that wins the most ridings probably gets to form the government. You are on the "something different" branch of the tree. So, if you're paying close attention and you really want something different than the government you've been getting, what is your best bet in this particular riding?
Let's try this again. You're not paying attention. The only way to actually get something different, that is something other than a Conservative majority government, is to keep as many Conservative candidates from winning as possible. Is the best way to keep our riding's Conservative candidate — the one that leaves a bad taste in my mouth — from winning for you to vote Green? No, of course not. You might just as well vote directly for that bad tasting guy.
I know. You want to stay true to what you believe. Me too. But the thing I believe most in is keeping our Supreme Leader from continuing to be that for another term. And as much as I'd love to see Elizabeth May leading a single Green-New Democratic-Liberal party, that ain't going to happen.
So I'll exhale a deep breath, shrug my shoulders and vote for this riding's Liberal candidate. I'll do it because I believe she has the best chance of beating what's-his-name. I'll do it despite what I see as a very flawed campaign on the part of Justin Trudeau. I'll do it despite the fact he opposes merging with the NDP and, as a reason, trots out the two party's differences over the Clarity Act.
The Clarity Act? Are you shitting me? That's like saying you won't consider a merger because you like mustard on your pastrami sandwich and the other guy likes mayonnaise. True, mayo on pastrami is kind of disgusting; but it's not a good reason to let the Philistines continue to run the country.
If this country had a system of proportional representation, I'd probably vote Green. If chocolate was health food, I'd probably eat a lot more of it than I do. Canada doesn't, chocolate isn't, and I really hate to think about how much more damage the Harpercrites can do with another term as the majority government.
But your decision is your decision. Just understand its implications.