Thursday, October 04, 2007

Fringe parties undeterred by long odds

I have always liked small parties and fringe candidates. I find that they are often the most sincere, dedicated and honest segment of the political sphere. True, they lose most of the time. But they raise important issues. They offer another alternative. What kind of democracy would we live in if we only had two parties? I think that would suck. It would encourage big-tent politics even more. Big tent parties try to form too big a coalition of competeing interests. Just look at the PC's. You have socially liberal secular libertarians and religious so-cons each trying to push their agenda. How do you keep it all together when you have those kinds of alliances?

So I really appreciated this article from The National Post.

When people start a small party, they're obviously not in it for the glory. They are politically exasperated and have the nerve and the guts to do something about the state of affairs, insteading of sitting on their butts and complaining about it. They don't have the luxury of well-rehearsed soundbytes. They just say what comes to their minds. That's so refreshing. Not that I fault politicians for choosing their words, but it's nice to not have to decode everything. They do not promise the moon. They do not try to be all things to all people.

I realize sincerity is not success. But somewhere in one's heart, I think that you have to feel good about your vote in order to want to participate in a democracy. At least not feel bad about it. I remember when I was living in Kingston in 2000, I voted for Stockwell Day, but in order to do so, I had to vote for a guy who was a former abortion clinic security guard! (Good argument for MMP!) I didn't entirely feel good about that vote. If people stop feeling like it's not authentic, they won't do it any more. I think that's part of the reason why people don't vote so much now.

Small parties offer authenticity. Maybe that's not important in terms of electoral success, but it's important on a personal level, and winning isn't the only thing that matters in politics. We're all human beings, and we like to be true to ourselves. We need to allow for some non-victory-related elements to be part of our action. Because if it's only about winning, it almost becomes undemocratic because you figure: why do this at all? Why vote, if my vote doesn't elect the guy?

There's gotta to be more to politics than sending an MPP to Toronto. And there is.

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