I’m Voting Strategically Because I Hate Strategic Voting
Canada, going purely by the numbers, is a left-leaning country. About two-thirds of Canadians prefer policies on the liberal side of the spectrum. And since we’re a democracy, where the government is formed according to the will of the people, our current government reflects this, right?
The system we use to elect our federal representatives is defective. I won’t get into how or why, because it doesn’t matter—what matters is this: In 2011, only 39% of voters voted for a party that ended up with 53% of the seats in the House of Commons. This is not just screwy and frustrating. It is undemocratic.
What this means is that, for nearly two-thirds of Canadian voters, we have one of two choices:
1) Normal voting: Vote for the party we like best. Likely result: The party we like least will probably win.
2) Strategic voting: Vote for the party most likely to beat the one we like least. Likely result: The winner might be our second- or third-favourite, but at least they’re not the worst.
Both of these options suck balls.
I hate voting for a party that has no chance of winning, and I hate compromising and voting for a less-awesome party. In the past, I’ve always thought, well, I have to vote for what I think is right. Maybe, eventually, by the time I’m 97 or so, things will start to change. Sigh.
In 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011 I used this approach and voted for my favourite—and watched my vote go down the toilet. My lofty and righteous values not only had no impact whatsoever on moving the government towards my ideals—in 2011, my vote in fact helped to elect the party I like least to a majority, so they had free rein to wreck the country for the next four years.
It felt pretty demoralizing. And it made me realize that I am not a member of a true democracy.
HOWEVER! This year, things can be different.
This year, finally, we have a commitment from the three left-leaning parties that they will work together to change our broken voting system. That means, if we can at the very least stop the Conservative party from getting a majority…
NOBODY WILL EVER AGAIN HAVE TO VOTE STRATEGICALLY.
We will get proportional representation, which means that 39% of votes = 39% of seats. Not 53%. It means we can vote for our favourites, and it will actually help them win seats in the House. It means we can stop feeling guilty for helping the worst party in Canadian history to win a majority.
BUT, for this to happen, this year, we must vote strategically one last time to make sure the other parties have the chance to do what they have promised.
It’s like a chess game. We need to think two steps ahead to the future. For example, are you a supporter of the Greens? Consider this:
Voting strategically this year will ultimately help your favourite party more in the long run.
Here are a couple of objections I’ve heard, and my responses:
- “Strategic voting is unethical, because you should vote according to your conscience.”
I am voting according to my conscience. I believe that electoral reform is the single most important issue in this election, and will have the greatest impact on our effectiveness as a democracy. I am voting for the long-term future of my country.
- “Strategic voting is undemocratic.”
As mentioned above, it is our current first-past-the-post system that is undemocratic. Strategic voting is an imperfect response to a broken system. We have the chance to fix the system and ensure that nobody has to compromise again.
- “Politicians never keep their promises.”
We can only go by a party’s stated platform when choosing who to vote for. This is a big issue for a lot of voters, and once the election is over we can put major pressure on the parties to fulfill their promise.
- “All the political parties are the same anyway.”
I disagree, but even if you truly believe that, let me ask you this: Do you think it’s fair that a certain % of votes should equal the same % of seats? If yes, please get out there just this once and vote for fairness.