EDITORIAL: Election 2009: The People Have Mumbled
At the conclusion of what was an insubstantial, ignored, and rather silly campaign by the two main parties, British Columbians awake to a new dawn…that looks pretty much like the previous 1400 or so. However, digging through a landfill crammed with discarded campaign signs (are there any Green ones in there, we wonder), we managed to unearth a couple of lessons from the somewhat underwhelming and regrettably unsurprising results of this week’s provincial election.
First, British Columbians have no sense of urgency about their futures. Calm is usually regarded as an admirable quality, but calm in the face of impending calamity? Shouldn’t the heart rate climb at least a little? Some might call it denial. This time around, only 48% of eligible voters turned out at the polling booths. Less than half. And by re-electing the BC Liberals, British Columbians replied to concerns about environmental and financial meltdown with a giant, complacent yawn. Flood and wildfires? Snow in May? Yawn. Massive debt and bank failures? Zzzz. Even though things are not going well at all in this province, and even though the BC Liberals are the party that cheerfully shepherded us into the hole we now inhabit, our electorate is, this time around, a forgiving one. But sheep, some would say, are just like that.
Second, we learned that the electorate isn’t especially engaged. The STV was popular last time around when almost no one knew anything about it (59% support) but less supportive once they started to learn about it and found that it was not as simple as first-past-the-gate. As it stands, for the foreseeable future, our ‘democracy’ will continue to be a quad-annual shouting match between the two best-funded ‘choices’ we’re presented with. Good enough? Apparently so: the people have mumbled.
Third, and perhaps more positively, almost 80% of the voters in this riding chose a candidate who wasn’t a BC Liberal. This particular statistic speaks, perhaps, to a desire for change of some sort and it is this possible desire that needs to be educated and moblilized during the next four years.
It’s time for a paradigm shift. If the NDP ever wants to form a government in this province again, they’re going to have to get hold of the 8% of the vote that has gone permanently Green. The Liberals, after all, only won by 4%. The enduring presence of the Green Party will effectively hobble the NDP until they can move into the 21st century in a meaningful way and become, once more, an entity that can be reasonably called ‘progressive’. Right now, in the wake of their massively ill-advised rejection of Premier Campbell’s carbon tax, they look like fools who have sold themselves out trying to please everyone and, of course, pleasing almost no one.
That’s what we’d like to see. The NDP goes green and the Liberals react to that by greening themselves. And then the Greens can get even greener.
Then, perhaps, the next election might be worth voting in.