Where do we begin? I admit that things did not turn out the way I was hoping and praying they would last night. That’s a pretty forthright opinion from me. I usually try to assess things from multiple angles, except when I don’t.
Of course, polling suggested that a UCP majority was likely and that’s what happened. But that’s not why I’m disappointed today – I knew it was going to happen. Even those who do not support the UCP had to know this was the most likely scenario and no doubt would have been preparing themselves. Because that’s the thing with democracy: more often than not, the other guy wins.
But beyond the headline, I’m disappointed and yet also encouraged this morning for a whole host of other reasons. WARNING: This gets cheesy… Sometimes I just can’t help myself.
GOOD – The real winner was democracy:
I know that is cheesy. But it’s really true. This election looks like it is the most engaged in Alberta’s history. Preliminary results show that approximately 70 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. That is truly awesome. It’s significantly higher than most provincial elections.
I have a romantic view of democracy. The fact that so many people decided to show up and raise their hand makes me smile even as I write this. That turnout was certainly aided by the record advanced polls. For the first time people were able to vote anywhere in Alberta. Elections Alberta will no doubt need to build on this success.
BAD – We now have a two-party system:
The UCP and NDP did everything they could during the campaign to paint this as a two-horse race. You could either vote progressive or conservative and any other choices were vote splitting pretenders. The results suggest they may have been right – or at least successful in convincing people of that. The Alberta Party made significant gains in the popular vote but went from 3 seats to zero. The Liberals and Freedom Conservatives (and all those other parties) didn’t make a dent anywhere.
Whatever one’s political leanings, this outcome can’t possibly be seen as a good thing for the electorate going forward. Sure, it may help the two big parties by consolidating things. But less choice is never good long term. Citizens deserve and need to hear multiple voices. This only polarizes every debate we have as a people, and that can’t possibly be good. It is sad that all these other voices – whether they are more moderate or more extreme – will not have a platform from which to be heard.
The people have spoken, and they did so freely and without coercion. The electorate is never wrong, even when I disagree with them. Again, I have a romantic view of democracy. Was the campaign divisive and nasty and personal? Absolutely. But no one was forced to vote for someone they didn’t want to. The process matters more than the result, even if for many, it’s hard to remember that today.
We take it for granted that we live in a country where everyone who lost last night came forward of their own accord and conceded. No one had to be forced from office. That’s actually not the norm across the world. We did this big, important thing and everyone accepted the result and moved on. Did I mention I have a romantic view of democracy?
BAD – Once again people’s fear and anger fueled them:
This is true on both sides. Fear and anger are far greater motivators than hope and optimism. Why did people vote for the UCP? Because they weren’t the NDP. And why did people vote for the NDP? Because they weren’t the UCP. People on both sides held their noses and voted AGAINST things rather than FOR things. I’m not saying that these people are wrong, mind you. I fall into one of these camps myself. But it is a sad way to vote. One that we need to do a better job of weeding out.
The UCP won by focusing on the economy and tapping into the anger toward Ottawa. While it was a good strategy (and that anger is real and legitimate), it further polarizes this country. Picking a fight with Quebec and the Prime Minister might be a necessary thing, but we shouldn’t take pleasure in it.
GOOD – It’s over:
We can all go back to living our lives.
BAD – It’s over:
How will this blog continue to earn me 2 cents per day?