15 January 2006

Five Minutes, Two Cheers, And An Involuntary Rrowwwr

The Bulldog     It's an old saw now, but Winston Churchill once famously said that "[t]he best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."  With the Canadian election just eight days away, The Star's Thomas Walkom went out and obviously had a few five minute conversations, and his article seems almost a mathematical proof of Churchill's claim.  Among the more perspicuous reasonings of those with votes?  I haven't forgotten Rae Days (apples and oranges), Maybe we should let them in so they can fall flat on their face and wreck us like Mike Harris did (oh, the civic responsibility!), and this one about Stephen Harper, which speaks volumes about the logical processes of some voters:  I don't trust Harper. For some reason, there's something about him. As a woman. He has this little smirky smile. I just don't like it.  (See also the equally insightful, There's just something about him.... It's not his looks.  There's just something about him.
     I try not to be an elitist snob, but I fear that reading this sort of thing brings out that part of me because the almost utter absence of logic astounds me.  You mean you're casting your vote on someone's smile?  On the memory of a government that has been out of power for ten years, which represented an entirely different form of government, and which was responding to an entirely different set of social and economical circumstances?  You're voting for someone in the hope he will fail so you can smugly aver how right you were about him?   Such people make me want to throw up my hands in frustration-- sometimes despair-- and ask them how they can possibly justify their rights to vote.  There are legitimate reasons to distrust or detest any and all of the parties, and there are equally legitimate reasons to champion or favour them.  This isn't a matter of partisanship.  It's about stupidity-- or, more accurately, it's about the fundamental laziness that manifests itself as stupidity because people don't want to do the brain-work required to make a coherent and defensible decision.  Check out the genius at the end of Walkom's article who has "read too many articles."  "I follow the crowd usually," he says.  Snort.  So do lemmings. 
     No wonder some of us get a little haughty under the collar, when some people respond to an election with the same depth of thought that Homer Simpson would at a movie festival.  (Gather ye footballs in the groin while ye may.)  Sometimes I think people should have to justify their votes in the same way that I have to justify my students' grades on individual assignments: to explain the reasoning, the criteria, and so forth; "showing your work," as they used to say in math classes.  It's not feasible, of course, and I'm sure the intellectual dullards would rant and rave about the value of "intuition" or some-such thing.  You'll forgive me, I hope, if I roll my eyes in anticipation of getting the government we deserve.  E.M. Forster once said that we should give two cheers for democracy, but not three, because two was all it deserved.  I, for one, will always hold back the third, and sometimes I want to hold back the second.  For every conscientious voter, there always seems to be one following the crowd. 
     Other brief political notes, with eight days left until this blasted thing is done: 
  • Democratic Space has been attempting to project the probable results of the election, and they've adjusted their numbers for post-New Year's trends.  The numbers, if they bear out, are interesting:  Conservatives 133, Liberals 84, Bloc Quebecois 60, NDP 31.  The interesting number is the NDP one, because if the projection is close to what actually happens next Monday, means the Dippers will hold the balance of power.  It also means that the Liberals are in even deeper trouble than anyone may have thought (unless you're Doug Fisher).
  • Irony alert:  The NDP, for its rally yesterday in Toronto, chose "Won't Get Fooled Again" as its theme song.  Oh, Jack, Jack, Jack: as the guy whose relevance is always being questioned, you do not-- DO NOT-- choose a song by The Who for your late-campaign mantra.  I believe it's called "tempting fate." 
  • Add grain of salt: There are rumblings the Prime Minister may be in trouble in his own riding of LaSalle-Emard.  Frankly, I think this doubtful, but if he does lose it, he'll be the first sitting PM to lose his seat since Kim Campbell, who seems more and more to be Paul Martin's closest historical forerunner. 

Hehehe.... As I've been writing this, CBC Sunday Morning has begun an experiment in electoral speed-dating, with representatives from the national parties courting a quartet of supposedly undecided voters.  Andrea Horan, the representative of the Green Party, surprisingly, is quite the little cutie.  Rrowwwr....  Hmmm, maybe I should vote Green on Monday.  Hey, it's as good a reason as half the ones I've heard so far.  Hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray.

     UPDATE:  CBC Results:  2 NDP, 1 Conservative, 1 Green, 0 Liberal.  Glad the Green sweetie got a vote; I expected her to get shut out.  ;-) 

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