The 47% Solution

by matttbastard

So 52.6% of eligible voters decide to cast ballots; only 39% choose to even touch the question of electoral reform (rejecting it with 63% of ’em aginnit). The Liberals are awarded a ‘historic’ majority because 65% of said 52.6% thought John Tory was the engineer of a big Blue train wreck and were loathe to give him the opportunity to derail the entire province (Howard who?) Oh, and the Greens receive 8%, nearly tripling their share of the popular vote in 2003 — and getting zero seats in return.

Bottom line: almost half the electorate had better things to do.

Tell me again how the status quo is just hunky dory?

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Quote of the Day: Comfortably Numb

by matttbastard

What’s most infuriating about all this is the simple refusal of the anti-MMP side to deal with the reality of Ontario politics: a vast majority of voters simply do not matter, myself included. In my riding, I can either vote for the incumbent, and simply pad his victory margin, or I can vote for another candidate and not be counted at all. And that’s it. Those are my choices, once every four years. If you read the Star or the Globe, you’d think this either a) didn’t matter (I am a smelly hippy, after all) or b) isn’t true (I’m a figment of my own imagination.) As Greg Morrow has pointed out, the outcome of this election is going to be determined by about 75,000 people — that’s it. Or, to put it another way, if you’re one of the 98.5% of Ontarians who didn’t get a golden ballot [today], and you’d like that to change, then vote for MMP [today].

– John @ Dymaxion World, Why you should vote for MMP [today]

More last minute things you can to help make history from Blogging For Democracy.

Vote for MMP

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24 Hours

by matttbastard

Vote for MMP

Standing on the precipice of 10/10. Thought I’d be more excited, or at least anxious. Muted ambivalence reigns, however.

What Ed Broadbent (and others) said at this past weekend’s Churchill Society debate was entirely correct: an important event like the potential restructuring of our provincial electoral system should never have been shotgun-wedded to an election, playing second-fiddle to a cacophony of prefabricated idiocy. Reform was doomed to be drowned out by the white noise of all-too-familiar campaign dissonance, the same ol’ song and dance routine.

But fuck it – boogie with the one who brung ya, as they say.

So many others have stated the case for reform better than I ever could. My favourite entreaty came from Idealistic Pragmatist, who eloquently captured my own feelings of despair with the system as it stands now, ever since I cast my first ballot 12 years ago, at the tender age of 18 (for Bob Rae & the NDP gov’t, if anyone cares).

Gonna quote a small passage, but encourage you all to read the whole damn thing (if you haven’t already):

To say that this is a historic opportunity is a huge understatement. It seems that when people are truly informed about the two choices and what they mean, they tend to prefer MMP–but I unfortunately don’t have the ability to inject the hands-on political education I got by living first in Germany and then in Canada into every Ontarian’s brain. So I’m asking you to trust me a little on this: MMP really does work. It doesn’t produce perpetual unstable minority governments, it doesn’t make political parties into super-sized patronage machines, and it’s not at all hard to understand.

Yes, it’s different from what people are used to, and yes, that’s scary. But it’s even scarier to the status-quo politicians who have benefited under the current system, and are completely panicked about the prospect of having to learn to do their jobs differently. Don’t listen to them. They haven’t lived under MMP and really seen how it works, and I have. I know about all of the frightening scenarios that they want you to believe–the ones that could, in some alternate universe, potentially produce some scary result like parties taking control and stacking parliament with people who owe them favours. But the thing is, they’re talking about what’s theoretically possible, and MMP really doesn’t work that way in practice. And even if that alternate universe somehow came to pass, none of those scenarios are scarier than things that have already happened in Canada as a direct result of the system we already have.

It’s long past time for a change. Make history, Ontario. Make me proud.

Look: no one is saying MMP is a cure-all, nor is it a perfect system free of problems. NO democratic system of government is (Bush’s pining for the simplicity of despotism comes to mind). But it is way better than the winner-take-all status quo.

And it’s only the beginning.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the real heavy lifting starts on 10/11. Yes or no, win or lose, there’s still gonna be loads of hard goddamn work to be done to breath some life into our stagnant democratic system, both provincially and nationwide.

IP is right: let’s make (and keep making) history, Ontario.

Vote for MMP

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CFLF Round Up

by matttbastard

Recent posts by yours truly exclusive to Comments From Left Field:

Also, you still have until Tuesday to help Comments From Left Field reach our goal of raising $10,000 for Fisher House in honour of Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray. Thanks to all who have donated and helped spread the word.

Only wish I had something more substantial to offer this evening. Hopefully young mister bastard has more mental oomph in the ‘morrow. For now, shall succumb to inertia and hopefully soon visit the realm of Morpheus.

Remember: cast your vote in the referendum on 10/10 and help make history!

Vote for MMP

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They Call Him MISTER…

by matttbastard

I haven’t given him much link love lately, but Sinister Greg (one of the first Canadian bloggers I began to read on a regular basis) has really been on fire recently. Today the Sinister One points to this eloquent, pragmatic post from conservative pundit and MMP supporter Andrew Coyne (also published in today’s National Post), who ably explains why the long-term benefits of electoral reform should quell anxious partisan concerns of wary conservatives (small and capital ‘C’):

Living on a knife-edge does strange things to people. On the one hand, it leaves the parties in a perpetual fever of anticipation, convinced they have only to gain a few points in the polls to destroy their opponents. That is one reason the two federal conservative parties, Progressive Conservative and Reform, were so reluctant to merge. It is also the reason why minority governments tend, under our system, to be so unstable.

On the other hand, the consequences of losing a few points makes them excessively, almost neurotically cautious, unwilling to take the slightest risk or advocate the mildest change, but each hugging as close as it can to the median voter, the status quo and each other. Hence the dominance of the two brokerage parties, indistinguishable in philosophy — alike, that is, in the lack of it.

Put the two together, and you have much of Canadian politics — viciously partisan, yet unspeakably trivial; much ado about nothing much. McGuintoryism, in short.
So the case for electoral reform, it seems to me, is one that conservatives, if not Conservatives, should find appealing. It is a cause that has tended, historically, to be identified with the left, not least in the current referendum debate; many conservatives have accordingly rejected it. Yet it is not the left that has suffered most under the current system. It’s the right.

By whatever combination of historical circumstances, the left has a party that will advance its ideas, free of the brokerage parties’ grip: the NDP. Though not often in government, outside of the West, it has succeeded in dragging the entire political spectrum to the left, its policies adopted by Liberal and Conservative governments alikes. Nothing like it exists on the right, federally or provincially, nor has since Reform’s demise. Nor is one likely to emerge, so long as “first past the post” remains the rule.

The same is true of parties less easily categorized, like the Green party. Though it is the party of choice for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, it has yet to win a seat, unable to concentrate its support geographically in the way that FPTP requires. How many more votes might it win if potential supporters were not disheartened at the prospect of “wasting” their votes, or worse, “splitting” the vote, as they are forever warned against doing?

But what if there were a system in which no votes were wasted, where vote-splitting ceased to be an issue? There is such a system, and it’s called proportional representation, of which the proposal before Ontarians is a variant. Not only the Greens, but other parties — libertarian, social-conservative, or other — might then have a fighting chance. The spectrum of acceptable ideas for debate would noticeably broaden.

Related: “Rock-ribbed conservative” Greg Staples (another early Canuckosphere fav of mine) dittos Coyne, and supplements with more pragmatism (the theme of the week, methinks):

I’ve already stated that I think the right-wing would split under proportional representation. In Ontario you would see a Tory party, a libertarian/conservative party and possibly a social conservative party. Nationally you could add a Bleu party. The (red) Tory party could become a natural home for the dissaffected centre-right Liberal and we would not be locked into the perpetual NDP wagging the Liberal dog.
All this and we would have actual policy debate. That why I’m signed up.

Vote for MMP

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Slacker Friday: Jena Aftermath Edition

by matttbastard

x-posted @ Comments From Left Field

Thus begins the conservative pushback. And yes, as predicted, they did jump on Whitlock’s article like white on…well, you get the idea. Oh, and you can also add The Artist Formerly Known As Jane Galt to the Confused Conservative Crew (ok, so technically McArdle identifies as ‘libertarian’; more often than not I’d simply call her ‘obtuse’), who all seem to think that any Jena information that doesn’t originate from someone white and/or reflexively skeptical of racism an ‘objective’ source is, by default, a desultory mess. To paraphrase Teen Talk Barbie, “Race is tough!”

More:

– University of Maryland law professor Sherrilyn Ifill on lynching and the symbolism of the noose (via Footnoted).

WSWS coverage of the Jena rally; round ups from Racialicious and Slant Truth (thanks for the link love, Kevin!) .

– Bobby Brown exercises his comeback prerogative: AOL Black Voices reports that the former Mr Whitney Houston is attempting to rehabilitate his image slated to perform at the “Jena 6 Empowerment Concert,” to be held in Birmingham, Alabama on Sept 29. This is of course all contingent on whether he has to be in court that day.

– Media Matters For America: Chris Matthews’ Jena reporting leaves much to be desired (hey, look over there – OJ!!11)
Non-Jena linkage:

Jon Rynn:

Is global warming — or more generally, the assault on the biosphere, including the wholesale destruction of ecosystems and species — an emergency, as was World War II? In other words, do we have to do something quickly? Second, what was done in World War II to meet the emergency, and what lessons can we learn from that response?

Fern Hill on foot clinics, unlawfully lawful activities, and the perplexing parsimoniousness of Planned Parenthood (fetch forth teh fainting couch!)

– Via Liberals For MMP, David Docherty and Rick Salutin both understand why electoral reform in Ontario is, in Salutin’s words, ‘a no-brainer’. Related: Idealistic Pragmatist on what is and isn’t politically ‘pragmatic’:

Pragmatism is NOT political expediency. Doing whatever it takes to get elected is about a lust for power, not about finding practical solutions to society’s ills.

Pragmatism is NOT a lack of ideology. If you don’t know what you stand for, where does your search for solutions even begin?

Pragmatism is NOT cynicism. The scornful negativity of cynicism may be currently in vogue, but it’s hardly a tried and true way of successfully solving problems.

Pragmatism is NOT centrism. This one is going to be especially hard for Canadians, I suspect, but it’s true–not all centrists are pragmatists, and not all pragmatists are centrists. And there are many pragmatic solutions to problems that don’t fall at the midpoint on a left-right continuum.

What pragmatism actually is, then, is choosing solutions to policy problems based on what has been shown to work in your own jurisdiction, or in another province or country with similar circumstances.

– Samantha Bee asks La Shawn Barber “Is A Woman President Ready For America,” and in response America asks “Who the hell did LaShawn Barber bribe to become a media pundit?” Personally, I wouldn’t give her five seconds @ Speakers Corner, let alone significant MSM screen time/print space (h/t Michael Tedesco).

– Defence Minister Peter McKay continues a longstanding Canadian tradition. And no, it doesn’t involve maple syrup or kissing cod – although I would contend that McKay’s puckered lips are firmly planted someplace cold and clammy.

– In case any of you were still wondering, no, Senator Clinton is not a lesbian. According to Sean Kennedy of The Advocate, who interviewed Clinton for an upcoming feature, “I 100% believe she’s a straight, heterosexual woman”. A bemused Pam Spaulding throws out a modest challenge to the MSM: “[A]nyone in the press up for asking Mitch McConnell or Lindsey Graham that question at a press conference, given all the rumors swirling out there about them? Now that’s entertainment.”

Happy Friday, brethren.

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