Matt Peters - 6,201 reasons to get frustrated
Matt Peters and Ryan Boldt decided to dust off their calculators this afternoon and do some ‘rithmatic. They were appalled at what they discovered. Time for some sobering statistics. You might want to prepare a barf bag:
• 6,201. Friends, this is not the title of the newest Rush album. This is a number we need to remember over the course of the next four years and especially during the next election. 6,201 is the COMBINED margin of victory across the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in Canada. The COMBINED margin of victory. This is how close the election actually was. In each of these races the Conservatives had a margin of victory of less than 800 votes. Most margins were much, much smaller. See below for a statistical breakdown.
• 14. You need to remember this number for two reasons. Firstly, it is the number of seats the Conservatives currently have above and beyond their majority. In these 14 contentious races, if there had been even a slightly more focused effort by the parties on the Left to consolidate their voter bases we could have easily swayed the balance of power away from the Conservatives and prevented their majority (only 6,201 votes total were needed, spread across 14 ridings). 14 is also significant because, if you can believe it, 14 votes was the actual margin of victory for the Conservatives over the Liberals in the eastern Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming. In this riding 11,357 people voted for the NDP or the Green party. 27,887 registered electors didn’t vote at all. Only 14 votes were needed to defeat the Conservatives. Let that sink in.
Necessary options: electoral reform or, if FPTP prevails, a centre-left merger.
Bright spot: whatever happens with electoral reform or merger activity, the Greens have a legitimizing toehold from which to illustrate a clear political alternative, one that might be said to exist outside the standard left-right spectrum. They will have to communicate that they are not a “single-issue party”, but rather a party with a fundamentally different set of basic values, values that can be shown to logically and consistently inform all areas of government policy.
Encouraging: younger types seem to give a shit at last, although enduring attention spans and a willingness to take action remain to be proven.
Tiresome: party politics in general. Blindly fervid allegiance to political brands and overnight idolization of leaders strike me as curiously-palatable secular substitutes for the sort of zaniness one comes across in religion. Ideally, engaged and conscientious voters would determine their own values without the influence of arbitrary political entities, and an active and sustained public conversation (magically safeguarded from the pernicious influence of lobbyist money, caveat caveat etc. etc.) would follow. Obviously, a policy-minded zeitgeist isn’t something that’s going to just pop up overnight, but there’s always room for improvement from where we are. The only way people will get engaged, though, is: (1) on a hyper-partisan and oversimplified basis à la Democrats vs. Republicans; (2) on an individualized, collaborative, and eclectic basis, one outside the ham-fisted, dogmatic, and innately antagonistic context of old school party politics.
Not an option: cynical apathy.