11 September 2021

Voting is an obligation of citizenship

 Dear editor,

Duty is what you do so you like yourself in the future.  Necessity is what you do so you are in the future at all.

Civilization exists to keep us out of necessity. In a civilization, when you die, on the odds it wasn't from violence, starvation, or preventable diseases.

We've seen all the parties respond to a pandemic, a thing governed by necessity.  This tells us how well we can expect them to respond to other constraining necessities -- climate change, inequality, supply chain failures, a housing market that does not provide for all Canadians, and the consequences to the medical system of containing the pandemic.

In this election, we have no excellent choices.

We do still have choices; we can pick the candidates who will act to keep us as far from necessity as these present times allow.

Vote, so it's a little easier to like yourself in the future.  You will have tried.


Graydon Saunders


JReynolds said...

I have an intelligent, well-educated friend who does not vote in elections. Her rationale is that they're all the same.

I don't agree with her. I know I can't change her mind. I try to vote in all elections I can.


In a comment on one of your earlier posts, I was horrible-izing about the Tories winning a majority because their numbers were climbing so quickly until 08/29. I should have taken a chill pill and realized that it would take a much greater voting swing to make that a danger. So feel free to ignore any of my prognostications in the future. (If you don't already, that is!)


arborman said...

Once again I find myself in a horrible bind in the election. Our race is largely a Liberal-Conservative race, the NDP are long-shot at best and the Greens are even longer.

Current MP is a first term Liberal, moderately progressive and facing the right direction re: the Climate Crisis. Also a backbencher and likely to remain so.

Conservative candidate is the former MP, an empty shirt who spouts thinly veiled anti-immigrant and other right wing points without much sign of reflection.

NDP candidate is Avi Lewis. Leap Manifesto architect, very progressive, very intelligent. A big part of what is good about the NDP. No doubt he has flaws, but I am comparing him to 2 others with bigger flaws.

Do I vote my brain and do whatever I can to make sure the C doesn't get back in (which means vote L)? Do I vote for the best candidate (by very far) knowing that if enough others don't do the same then I might actually help get the C back in?

The above dilemma is the simplest demonstration I have to explain why Trudeau nixed changing the electoral system. They get the fear votes.

Graydon said...


The CPC (non-communist) still has about one chance in three of forming the government. I like to think they wouldn't survive their throne speech, but neither Le Dauphine nor Singh show much sign of substance, and they'd need to have the deal in place from now as a contingency. So I think it's an entirely reasonable worry; we are well into the century of angry weather, and to be governed at such a time by a group of people who consider reality a heresy is a risk and a loss and a privation.

Graydon said...


Well, it's not easy, but I think it's simple.

We've got the fash; we've got the party of declaring reality a heresy and sacrificing anything they can to the nearest approximation of a Great Old One in the interest of enjoying the screams; we've got the party of numerate mammonism (consequentially lacking conviction and over-blessed with soulless husks); we've got a centre-right party of nostalgia, down to the presumptive moral superiority; and we've got a thoroughly innumerate party of claiming supreme moral status.

None of these choices are good choices, but the reality-is-a-heresy party has already demonstrated that it'll get a lot of us killed to keep a call centre staffed. Innumerate mammonism collapses back into raw primate status nonsense and that's roughly equivalent to id; the id of the incompetent and panicked is nothing to set to govern ever, never mind during the first pandemic of the time of angry weather.

So my take is that yeah, you vote your brain. This is the last election the soulless husk party gets the fear vote. They ain't great; they all belong in front of a crimes-against-humanity tribunal for approving pipelines this century. But they will do that math and they will follow clear public sentiment.

This is the last election -- they're going to notice just how many ridings the fash are costing them by prying off a fifth or sixth of their total support -- the reality-is-heresy party won't be fash. (A transition which will be quicker if they win.)

We don't have time; the time to stop fossil carbon extraction turns out to have been fifty years ago. But more time not making things worse faster is something. Enough time for the comforting narrative of "later" to fail and someone with wits and a spine to start proposing policies on the scale of the problem isn't guaranteed, but going under to the mammonite isn't recoverable. (Look at the US. Look at the UK.) And the CPC getting in will be that, while a whole lot of people are weak enough to demand a future they like.

I live in a ridding that's a CPC/Green/NDP toss up. I've voted Green because the candidate came second last time, might be leading, and the Liberal incumbent's answers about the sexual harassment allegations were a textbook example of "say you're guilty without saying you're guilty". It rots my socks; Green supporters came round and knocked on my door in a pandemic, which tells me far too much about the fundamental incompetence involved.

But, anyway; step zero, keep the fash out. Step one, avoid being sacrificed by mammonites to their belief that nature must obey them. If the CPC could win your riding, vote for whoever is most likely to beat them. If they can't win -- there's a broad band of daylight betwixt the polling error bars -- then it gets closer to who you'd want in, if someone like that should happen to be running.

JReynolds said...

Guessing here:

PPC - We've got the fash
CPC - we've got the party of declaring reality a heresy and sacrificing anything they can to the nearest approximation of a Great Old One in the interest of enjoying the screams
LPC - we've got the party of numerate mammonism (consequentially lacking conviction and over-blessed with soulless husks)
NDP - we've got a centre-right party of nostalgia, down to the presumptive moral superiority
GPC - and we've got a thoroughly innumerate party of claiming supreme moral status.

No pocket-summary of the Bloc? Oh well.


Graydon said...


The Bloc are not a national party. :)

The Bloc are this ball of pain brought about by tension between nationalism, socialism, and principles; they keep changing principles, trying to lessen the pain, without considering the nationalism.

arborman said...

A funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box. Through the course of the election my partner and I had been arguing/waffling between 'least worse' and 'maybe a little better'. For much of the campaign spouse had been arguing for least worse (i.e. not the fash, at least not actively hostile to most of the things I/we believe in) whilst I had been advocating for the 'maybe slightly better' candidate.

After we voted we had a laugh as we had both convinced the other to switch our votes. In the end the incumbent won and nothing much changed (nor would my vote have changed it if I hadn't voted for him).

Hooray? Sigh.

Graydon said...


It could have been so much worse.

It could have been better, too, but it could have been so much worse.

arborman said...

My take on the election:

1. There is some legitimate criticism that the election was unnecessary and an ambitious power grab. True enough. However the counterargument is that the pandemic has meant a LOT of significant policy and decision making, which voters should have a chance to support or oppose. Not having an election could very easily have been turned into 'clinging to power'. So I call it a wash.

2. As always, the danger of electing climate deniers into power could be catastrophic, and I am greatly relieved at the outcome. That said, I suspect le Dauphin had best take his leave in the next year or two, ideally to allow the smartest person (by an order of magnitude) in their party to take over (Chrystia Freeland).

3. Meanwhile the planet burns. I'm not inclined to support violence as a political tool. I am very supportive of whatever peaceful mechanisms we can find to marginalize the 30% of our population who are actively hostile to scientific information. Education and engagement to reduce their numbers, but also just shut them out and let the grown ups get on with trying to salvage something of a functioning civilization.

Graydon said...

Unnecessary? A majority government could have gone for a vaccine mandate. That was worth a try.

Freeland is unquestionably smart; whether any of that intelligence is bent toward material solutions, rather than competence in running the existing machine, is unclear to me. (It's incredibly hard for a successful politician to want a different politics.)

The oligarchs are the problem, not the 30%. The oligarchs will accept nothing that diminishes the rate at which their wealth increases. It might be legitimate force -- the full exercise of the civil power -- or it might not (or it might not happen), but if it happens it's not going to happen without things that look a lot like violence.

I expect that this coming decade is the decade the kids figuring this out becomes the inescapable political issue.

arborman said...

Well, Freeland made her bones working as a journalist in Moscow taking on the oligarchs there in the 1990s. This is the primary reason she is Persona non Grata in Russia. Given that she did this in a context where journalists who did just that were casually arrested and/or killed I have hoped that she would be willing to face them from a much more powerful position.

That said, it isn't clear whether she sees the country facing the same problems or in the same way, nor whether she would support the same solutions as I might.

Somebody said an election is a bus, not a marriage. You pick the one that is going closer to where you want to be. Given all the above and all the crises coming our way in the next decade I'd prefer to have someone intelligent with a history of facing off against oligarchs. Certainly since many of the other buses aren't even going in the right direction.

Seruko said...

Long time no post, are you alright?

Graydon said...

I am over-pressed with work deadlines, but otherwise well.

(I am also unable to write the post I want to write about insecurity management in a sufficiently compact form, which isn't helping with posting.)

Seruko said...

I'm glad you're well provided for with work items, and hope otherwise well. I really have appreciate your writing bin these dark times and like to dream about a world with competent decision makers and democratic institutions.