They say that some of the best confidence men in the world are not in jail but can be found in the editorial offices of the biggest newspapers in Canada. And if they can’t be found there, they can be found in the backrooms of political think-tanks when an election is brewing.
These con-men are so adept at wrestling truth to the ground, they can paralyze the thought processes of otherwise-intelligent persons. The Big Con they try to sell to many voters is that you don’t vote for somebody – you vote against somebody by voting for a party that you detest only a little less than the party you hate. If successful, this is the mark of a real con-man operating.
This convoluted approach is called “voting strategically.” As a devout Liberal, you would vote NDP if he or she was the stronger candidate, even though you hate the interior makeup of their whole body (this is a family paper) in order to defeat the Harris government, which you hate a little bit more.
If you are a dedicated NDP voter you bite your lip till it bleeds and vote for Liberal Dalton “I-am-really-a-Harris-clone” McGuinty in order to defeat the Harris government.
The polling booth then becomes a race track where some voters vote for the candidate they have been led to believe is more likely to win. This tactic certainly does not smell like Chanel No 5.
So you end up on election night along with a lot of other voters, with a drink in your hand, cheering madly for a party that you hate – to win and beat a party you hate even more. And in the early morning newspaper, strategic voters find themselves indelibly listed in the Liberal or NDP camps as voters for their particular candidates when in fact they weren’t these voters’ real choice.
Strategic voters may have succeeded in electing a few more Ontario Liberal MPPs at the expense of the NDP, but the election was decided really on whether the people approved of the Harris government, in spite of its sins.
vI don’t think I’d like to be in a room full of people who voted for a candidate who was ahead in the polls. I’d rather go down with the Titanic. The “strategic” voter is surrendering his rights to hold a particular political opinion in order to guess or hope he’s right by voting for a party he doesn’t favour.
I voted for the Family Coalition Party candidate in my Willowdale riding. He had as much chance of getting in as I had, and I wasn’t running. I don’t feel bad about that. At least I hope I demonstrated that a con-man would knock in vain on my door.
The Ontario Harris backroom wave makers brought in an American political wheel-spinner for the recent election to come up with a Bible and agenda that you don’t dare stray from, he’ll tell you, if you want to win.
Maybe some day they’ll give an Oscar out in an Academy Award-like ceremony for political parties for best electoral strategy. And coming to the platform to accept the award is – Jurassic Clark!
Mike Harris took care of a phenomenon that he was made aware of: the decline of support for the governing party during the last few days of the election campaign. He reduced the election period to 28 days. The fear was if it had gone on for another week, perhaps the Liberals would have won. And if the election campaign had gone on for another month, perhaps the NDP might have won! And if it had gone on for another six months, perhaps the FCP might have won!