Sunday, October 05, 2008

How To Vote In The Federal Election - Part 2

Someone said that those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it. I think that’s especially true as we choose who we will vote for. While I’m a great believer in a fresh start and in what Jack Layton likes to refer to as ‘Damascus Road’ experiences, barring a genuine transformational moment, it’s pretty safe to say that our past decisions and practices are a fairly accurate indicator of how we will conduct themselves in the future.

As I’m getting ready to cast my ballot on Oct 14, one of the questions I’m asking myself is what are the convictions of those who are running for office? To be able to understand the convictions of the candidate or leader you really have to learn to see beyond the chest thumping and podium pounding and seek to discover the convictions of the individual. What are the things that they are absolutely convinced are right and true? I don’t think that you can really find that out by asking the standard questions. Generally speaking, candidates are provided with talking points for all candidate forums and doorstep conversations by their respective parties so you aren’t likely to discover their convictions there.
The real answers are more likely found in asking questions about the candidate’s past actions and activities. Questions about previous involvement with community groups, associations, activities, etc will help you discover something of their history. I think a simple ‘why did you get involved there?’ follow up question will give you a much better grasp on their convictions and will help you see if their campaign rhetoric really aligns with who they are as a person. I’d suggest that if their party platform doesn’t align with their personal background, you might not be speaking with a person who is true to their convictions.
I admire politicians who are willing to take a stand sometimes at the risk of their careers, opportunities and the chance of re-election because of their convictions. I may not always agree with their decisions or actions but at least I know that they are true to who they are, where they have been and what they believe. They’ve chosen to stand and I admire that!


Anonymous said...

Good Discussion, Tim. You kinda touched on a point that I think most Canadians struggle with -- do you vote for the person or for the party? What do you do if there's a candiate in your riding that is something special but the party s/he's with is not aligned with your own -- likewise, what if the opposite is true?

Tim Schindel said...

I think it's an excellent question and one that has no easy answer. I think I've voted more for leaders personally, but I can think of several times when I've voted for the local candidate too. I think we make too many assumptions about what people believe based on what party they represent. The great thing about politics is that there's usually an opportunity for people who are willing to come to the table to contribute to the discussion and perhaps influence policies and positions.

Sometimes I think electing a PM separately from local candidates would be a good idea, sort of what like the Americans do with the Congress and President. It would decentralize power, ensure a better balance and perhaps provide a more accountable government.