Thursday, September 25, 2008

Strategic voting is the only way to stop the Tories now... (not that I'm holding my breath...)

Given all the recent polling (which, really, hasn't moved around much at all, despite all the excitement among the "nothing better to do" class - myself included) I still think these are the top 5 most likely outcomes of the current federal election:

1) A Conservative minority (larger than the current)

2) A Conservative minority (about the same as the current)

3) A Conservative majority

4) A (tiny) Liberal minority

5) Armageddon (may, technically, be the same as #3).

To me, the only thing that could stop Harper now is a concerted ABC (anybody but Conservative) effort. Now, it's not gonna happen ('cause both Liberal AND NDP partisans are too interested in taking charge themselves, as opposed to stopping Harper from being PM again) but theoretically it COULD do the trick, and I'm utterly convinced that it's now the only way to stop a second Harper led government from being elected.

As much as Liberals will tell you that the only party other than the Tories that can form a government is them (and that's correct) what they WON'T tell you is that they can't possibly form a government without NDP support. The ONLY non-Tory government possible at this point is a Liberal minority, and I just can't see how the Liberals could POSSIBLY (in my WILDEST imagination) pull even that off without strategic help from NDP voters.

However, if (and it's a huge and HIGHLY improbable if) "progressive" voters really voted strategically, a second Harper term could be avoided. If Dippers in ridings where the Liberals have the best shot at beating the Cons, and Grits in ridings where the NDP has the best shot, were willing to swallow their pride and vote for the other party, Harper could be stopped. We all know that won't happen in the numbers needed to make an impact, but wouldn't it be nice?

Ironically, if it did happen en masse, it would benefit BOTH parties. Both the Liberals AND the NDP would gain more seats than they would if everyone just voted their partisan preference. I HIGHLY recommend you head on over to and check out their tabulations on how the election is most likely to go down if it were held today, and how it COULD change (theoretically) if a true ABC strategy was implemented by voters.

Here's their assessment:

If the election were held today and we ("progressives") split our votes:

Cons 147 Libs 76 NDP 34 Bloc 49

If "we" voted "smart" (i.e. ABC)

Cons 97 Libs 109 NDP 46 Bloc 53

Now, ask yourself which Parliament you'd prefer to see. I fully understand why Dipper partisans don't like the idea of helping Dion become PM, and why Grit partisans don't like the idea of asking for Dipper help to win the election. However it seems to me that in both cases that's all about those partisans deluding themseleves into believing that they can win without the other (or, not caring that they can't, and that their failure will elect the Tories, again). Because alone, neither party can win this time around. Layton will never be PM (sorry). Dion will never be PM without Layton's help.

Harper will almost certainly be PM again.

Thems the facts.

Now, I admit, I say all this from the comfort of a "safe" Toronto riding. I can afford to vote for whomever I please (probably NDP as in the last couple of elections) because my riding is almost certainly going Liberal anyway. However, if you're interested in trying to stop Harper, go to and check out their nifty "Find your Candidate" tool on the right hand side. Just put in your postal code and the system will give you some information to help you try to stop Harper. The system will recommend your best strategy to help stop Harper (either "You choose" if you're in a safe riding, NDP if the Dipper's got the best shot, Liberal if the Grit's the best challenger, etc...).

Again, I highly doubt this will effect anything. Everyone's just going to go merrily along deluding themselves (Tories included, who are deluded in thinking that, after literally years of never REALLY getting into majority territory in any polls, they're suddenly going to win a majority) and Harper's team is gonna win.

But at least some of us could TRY to stop him.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah Palin and the bridge to nowhere...

As you may be aware, there's been plenty of controversy in Alaska over federal earmarks and the so-called "bridge to nowhere" (though in Alaska, particularly on the islands the bridge was meant to link, at least some of the controversy surrounds having their community called "nowhere"!). Saying no to the "bridge to nowhere" was a huge part of the Sarah Palin unveiling, and I find the whole thing fascinating.

The first thing, not terribly shocking or impactful but humorous given the historical context, is that Palin was for the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it.

Funny. (though again, probably not terribly important...).

What I find absolutely fascinating though is that while the construction of the bridge was cancelled, the state of Alaska STILL GOT ALL THE EARMARKED MONEY! As Republican (and former Palin campaign coordinator) Mike Elerding put it, "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money." So, Palin standing up to the bridge is not exactly the great crusade against federal earmarks that it appears. She stopped the BRIDGE. Her government still GOT the money.

And what did they do with the money? Well I'm sure a lot of it went to useful infrastructure improvements (still, arguably, a waste of federal dollars... giving federal funds to a state rolling in oil and gas royalties so they can build roads on the federal dime while dolling out rebate cheques to their citizens from the state's bulging coffers... but at least it's not a "bridge to nowhere").

However, what's truly great about the story is that Palin spent tens of millions of the ear mark, wait for it... BUILDING THE ROAD THAT'S MEANT TO LINK UP TO THE BRIDGE. I mean, at least the bridge didn't LITERALLY go nowhere. It was meant to connect two islands. The road on the other hand just stops where the bridge was supposed to be. It LITERALLY goes nowhere. And why are they building it? Well, because unlike the money for the bridge, which Alaska gets to keep even if they don't build the bridge, the money for the access road would have to be returned to the federal government if it wasn't used for the road.

So they built the road.

It's classic, and hardly the vision of a principled stance taken against federal largess. Palin decided to stop the bridge after campaigning for Governor on a "build the bridge" platform. Then, she kept the earmark from the feds to spend on other projects. And the parts of the earmark she wasn't allowed to redirect elsewhere? She kept that too, and spent it on things like the road it was originally earmarked for.

A "road to nowhere".

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