Why I Won’t Vote

It’s not out of laziness or disinterest, but rather frustration and contempt for the current political process.  Churchill’s comment about democracy being better than the rest is faint praise.  Gandhi’s parry that western civilization would be an idea worth trying, better describes our shortcomings.  My apologies for the intrusion of this issue on a site where I hope to range over positive, constructive contributions.  It’s on the occasion of the federal election campaign in Canada, and newsmedia are fixated on the topic to the exclusion of real events.  Any comments I receive on this, I’ll reply to them with due consideration, but I won’t post them.
Politicians are all scoundrels.  Some few of them, by dint of perennial success and ingratiating familiarity, might eventually be considered loveable scoundrels, but scoundrelship is the prerequisite.  Claims of wanting to “serve the people” are a crock – all aspiring politicians already think they know what’s right for the people and are simply looking for their chance to put it across.  Politicians arrive on the scene at the peak of their popularity, and do not leave until they have sunk to their lowest.
Why are there no politicians of exceptional character, insight and ideas?  Party politics systematically weeds them out.  Adherence to the party platform and pronouncements given by the party leader is absolutely required.  And because all the parties are competing for the same electorate, they all want to represent, or claim that they represent, the central, majority viewpoint on all issues.  Kim Campbell notoriously said that an election campaign was no time to discuss real issues – it’s certainly no time to discover where parties really stand on issues.  Can the electoral system be improved?  I don’t think proportional representation is the answer, because it puts even more emphasis on party affiliation – aggregate vote totals determine how many party candidates are elected, with even less regard for which candidate in which constituency.  Recent experience argues poorly for the ability of parties to work together.
There is no party or candidate with the courage to represent the leftist views I hold.  I learned this when I regrettably helped elect the so-called NDP government of Bob Rae in Ontario twenty years ago.  One of his government’s moves was to appropriate and debase the meaning of the term “social contract”.  Since then, I have not voted provincially or federally, where party politics is played.  To vote for “none of the above” is not acceptable to me.  My consent to be governed is withheld, and I am not bound by any “social contract” in its original sense.  Nevertheless I choose in most circumstances to behave myself, responsibly but not obediently.  In the same way that I try to behave well ethically, but not out of fear of God.  It is because I am willing to stand by and be judged for my actions, that I am careful what I subscribe to.  For example, it is sometimes said that Canada is “at war” in Afghanistan, and now Libya.  Excuse me, I am absolutely not “at war”, I do not support either intervention, and I grieve the human toll on all sides.  “Western civilization”.


~ by Peter Harris on 19/04/2011.

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