Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Real choices

There were many reasons why I wanted to leave the United States. The one that really stood out for me, though--the one that finally made me get off my duff and take the plunge--was the fact that there's simply no political home in my country of birth for a lefty idealistic pragmatist. Those Americans like me who don't leave have three options: they can decide to hold their noses and vote Democrat year after year, they can join the leftist fringe and keep company with modern-day Abbie Hoffmans, or they can become apolitical cynics who cry in their beer over how bad things are, but never do anything about it. I tried all three, and none of them suited me even remotely.

This, above all other reasons, is why I get so very angry when the Liberals try to whittle the colourful spectrum of Canadian choices down to two. Paul Martin keeps claiming that Stephen Harper wants to turn Canada into a clone of the United States, but from where I sit, he's been trying to do that himself for this entire election. Just imagine what Canada would look like if Martin's vision of a binary choice reflected actual reality: if there'd never been an NDP, never been a Bloc Québécois, never been a Green Party. It would not only be far more boring, it would also be far more American. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I've been there and done that, and I really, really don't want to go back.

On Monday, in my very first election as a Canadian, I will be voting NDP--and despite all my talk about the unfortunate understandability of strategic voting, that decision was an easy one. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Edmonton-Strathcona candidate, Linda Duncan, is the only bright spot in a sea of mediocrity, nor does it hurt that with the collapse of the Liberal vote in the riding, she actually has an outside shot at winning. But my main reason for voting NDP is still the same as the reason I wanted to come to Canada in the first place. See, for the first time in my nearly two decades as a voter, I will have the option of voting not for the lesser of two evils, not for a candidate and a party who are still lightyears away from me on the political spectrum, but for someone who actually comes very close to standing for what I believe in. That's what becoming a Canadian meant to me: the extraordinary political freedom to make a real choice instead of a forced choice.

After waiting this long for it, there's no way in hell I'm going to let Paul Martin--or anyone else--take it away from me.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Soon Canada will look like the US though... read this...
www.harperstiestousa.org

Anonymous said...

Your point is well put idealistic. Diversity of opinion is good and to have to work things out together is good for us. I hope our voting system turns toward proportional representation. If only Paul Martin could step back a minute and listen objectively to himself saying things like 'there are two choices ... there is a fundamental choice between values for canadians, etc.' How arrogant and insulting, and misinformed. I bet not one Canadian is so black and white as this if we could truly know their mind.

KevinG said...

And hopefully, some day soon, the composition of the parliament will more directly reflect the way Canadians actually feel.

Arrogant Polyglot said...

Wednesday night a representative of the NDP party, following my e-mail request, popped by my apartment and handed me a rather large Donna Martyn sign for my balcony. You see, as my 7th floor balcony faces a very busy downtown street, Westbound traffic will be unable to avoid seeing Donna on my deck. I wanted this sign not only to proudly boast that I WILL vote NDP, but because my very good friend, whose balcony is exactly one block East of mine (our balconies are face-to-face), and who is an NDP at heart, has an even larger sign facing my Donna Martyn, but it's that of Liberal Anne McLellan. Yes, a staunch NDP touting for the Liberals. "If it were any other riding in Edmonton, I would vote NDP", he told me tonight over a brief and heated telephone conversation. He, who is voting strategically during this election, has succumbed to this rhetoric that we're being fed that there are essentially two parties to vote for in this election. "I cannot", I told him "vote strategically in this election. The NDP party, though certain to not win in my riding, represents completely my political ideologies". I feel that this message was clear to him when I had my Donna face his Anne.

But still, I teeter back and forth not knowing what to do. Promote Donna Martyn on my balcony, yet vote Liberal to keep the Conservatives off my downtown turf? Or ought I follow my heart and vote for the party I most respect, thereby filtering a nominal sum of money for the next election?

My conscience whispers "NDP". But my fears scream "Liberal", despite my true distaste for Anne McLellan.

Here's hoping this dilemma is resolved by Monday.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Kevin,

That's right. Let's make this our last unfair election!

AP,

I sure don't envy you that decision. I was going to come back and say that democraticspace.com had declared Edmonton-Centre a sure enough win for Laurie Hawn that you could safely vote your conscience, but he's got the latest version of the "NDP strategic voting guide" up, and you guys are back on it.

freshly_squeezed said...

Great, heartfelt post I.P. I know you'll be able to walk out of that booth with a smile on your face.

Arwen said...

Amen. Sister.
Now, hopefully the Conservatives will come through on the one thing in their platform that doesn't make me barf, and we'll have some voting reform.