One of the delightful-slash-frustrating things about this here blog of mine, Hypergraffiti, is that it’s hard to pin down. I blog about whatever crosses my mind, which probably reduces my readership, as people find this site and go, “Oh! Cool! A writer’s blog about writing” … and the next day it’s a blog about parenting, or faith, or sci-fi aliens, or whatever. A blog on one consistent subject would probably garner a larger consistent readership, but it would have the negative side effect of BORING ME TO TEARS, as I have the attention span of a developmentally delayed mollusk.
One thing I’m fairly sure of is that I’m never going to be one of those influential political bloggers whose views are so widely respected that they get invited to party conventions and asked to comment on the national news. In over two years of solid blogging I don’t know if I’ve EVER written a blog about politics, but here we are, one month out from a national election, so it’s high time I said something on the subject, if only to cover my mandate of blogging about everything under the sun.
I don’t think you need to know either me, or the Canadian political landscape, terribly well to guess I’m not voting for a return of the Stephen Harper Conservative government. And no, it’s not just because Danny Williams told me to vote “Anything But Conservative.” Much as I’ve been entertained by the spectacle of our Conservative premier telling us not to vote for the federal Conservative party, I pretty much had my own mind made up on that one. Listening to Premier Danny’s speech to the Board of Trade on the radio the other day, I had the distinct impression that he was just barely restraining himself from saying “Stephen Harper is the Antichrist!!!!!” Me, I’m not so reticent.
Danny says we shouldn’t vote for Harper because his policies hurt Newfoundland. People in the arts community say we shouldn’t vote for Harper because he’s slashed funding to arts programs. People with liberal and progressive sensibilities say we shouldn’t vote for Harper because with a majority government, he would forge ahead with his dream of bringing American-Republican-George-Bush-style conservatism north of the border. People with fashion sense say we shouldn’t vote for him because his sweater vests, intended to somehow promote family values, are actually a bit scary.
But being the hardcore old lefty that I am, there was never much chance of me voting for him.
In the US they have what they call “yellow-dog Democrats,” on the assumption that these people are so inclined to vote the party line, you could run a yellow dog on the Democratic ticket and they’d vote for it. In recent years I have been a bit of a yellow-dog New Democrat, voting straight NDP regardless of who the party was running in my local riding. Voting NDP in St. John’s is one of those noble doomed enterprises: you know your vote will fall into the abyss but you do it because it’s The Right Thing To Do.
But this year, thanks to Danny’s ABC campaign, the two St. John’s ridings may actually turn a colour rather than Tory Blue. The one time in my living memory that St. John’s returned anyone other than a Conservative was in 1987, when lawyer Jack Harris won St. John’s East for the NDP in a by-election. He clung tenaciously to the seat for a whole year before it swung back to the right again, and Harris turned his attention to provincial politics. Now he’s running again, and by gum, he might just have a chance of getting in.
Unfortunately, the boundary line between St. John’s East and St. John’s West (or St. John’s South/Mount Pearl, or whatever the kids are calling it these days) runs right down the middle of my street, and guess what? I’m on the wrong side of the tracks. I’d like to vote, campaign, post a sign, etc., for Jack Harris — so much so that I’m critically eyeing the house across the street which is for sale — hmmm, about the same size and vintage as ours, probably a similar price … do you think we can sell ours, buy the one across the street and get all moved in by October 14?
No? Then in lieu of moving house, I’m going to do something only slightly less drastic … I’m going to vote Liberal.
I don’t have any personal vendetta against Ryan Cleary, the NDP candidate on my side of the street. But the pundits (isn’t that a great word? Pun-dits! PUNDITS!!!) seem to think the Liberal candidate, Siobhan Coady, has a decent chance of winning the seat, and I’d like to vote for a winner.
First, every Liberal or New Democrat (or Green, or Bloc, or Independent) who gets elected to Parliament is ONE LESS CONSERVATIVE SEAT, thus one step further away from Harper ever having a majority. If he’s scary with a minority government, I don’t like to think what he’d do with a strong mandate.
Second, a Liberal vote is a vote in favour of Stephane Dion’s proposed carbon tax. While I think the carbon tax is far from perfect, I think it’s a step towards acknowledging that our over-dependence on fossil fuels is a problem and wishing won’t make it go away. Personally, I would like to see a credible program put forward by any of the major parties that honestly says, “This is a tough problem and it will require tough solutions, and the number-one change we have to make is to reduce consumption.” I don’t see a lot of politicians saying that, because it’s not a message people want to hear.
Who knows? Something may happen to change my mind before October 14 — I might even have a complete personality transplant and wake up as a Stephen Harper supporter, although that seems highly unlikely. Almost as unlikely would be my transformation into an influential political blogger upon whose opinions everyone hangs with bated breath, waiting for my next pronouncement. But that’s OK. At least if you see me selling my house or voting Liberal, you’ll know the reasons why.