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A Primer on how this all Works

Guys.  We are having an election.  Can you believe it?  It’s gonna be great.  Someone will say something and then someone else will… get this… disagree.  I know right?  Sounds like a lot of fun.  Among my family and friends, I am known as THE guy who knows and cares about politics.  Everybody has one of these people in their family and/or among their friends.  Chances are you’re picturing someone right now.  There’s a technical term for these people:  Nerds.  Or is it jerks?  Guess it depends on the family.

Anyway… recently I made some social media posts about the election and many people suggested I start a blog with easy to understand info and my thoughts.  I was pleasantly surprised that people would willingly subject themselves to my thoughts, but here we are.

Before we get to the candidates and the issues, we need to talk about the system we have.  Why?  Because I find that many people don’t understand it.  They view it like air travel.  We stand a line, get crammed into a small space, and then magic things happen and suddenly we have less money.  So, I thought with my first real post (that other one doesn’t count), I’d tackle an explanation of the what the system we have is all about.  It’ll be quick and relatively painless.  Really.

For those among us who are trying to understand politics, parties are not the usual keg and red solo cup variety you’re probably used to.  No, they’re much more fun.  Parties are things that candidates belong to that tell them what they believe.  I’m only mostly kidding.  In Alberta (and most of Canada), the individual members of the legislature aren’t allowed to vote their conscience.  They almost always have to vote the way the party dictates.  This is why the leaders matter so much (check back soon for posts detailing the major party leaders).  Plus, whichever leader gets the most seats gets to be in charge.

But many people are surprised that when they get to the school gymnasium or church basement where democracy happens because the three names they’ve heard of don’t appear on the ballot.  See, we don’t vote for our Premier (or Prime Minister) directly.  He or she is chosen by the people we vote for.  In practice this means that whichever party winds up with the most seats names their leader to the top job.  So the party you vote for indirectly leads to you voting for a Premier or Prime Minister.

This is where many people don’t do enough research.  They vote for the party they like and then pat themselves on the back for saving the country from those whack jobs on the other side and go back to complaining about how the government is simultaneously doing nothing and yet also doing all the wrong things.  The problem with voting for party alone is that the person who actually got your vote doesn’t have to stay in that party.  It’s called floor crossing.  Anyone is free to leave or join any party at any time.  It happens all the time.

If you’re still reading this then congratulations you’ve won the top prize!  What do you get you ask?  You get the understanding that your vote just got more complicated.  That’s not a bad thing.  A little research and you’ll start to see that there is someone you can hold your nose and vote for.  Over the coming days I’ll try to help by profiling the major parties and their leaders.  That way you can at least get a sense of what’s out there in broad strokes.  I’ll also be posting links to tools to determine who your local candidates are and how to determine what party most closely aligns with your thinking.

See you along the way.


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