Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why I swing left

My parents were visiting me over the last few days to help Elli celebrate her birthday.  During the visit we got talking about Canadian politics and my parents wondered how I managed to go from supporting right wing parties when I was a teenager to left wing ones now.  I gave some kind of answer that was true but not entirely complete and I figured I would talk a bit about it after some more thought.

I have always had a money demon sitting on my shoulder urging me to scrimp and save, to avoid debt no matter what, to live on the cheap.  That informed my teenage political choices to a remarkable degree and I mostly based my affiliation on what party I thought would run a balanced budget and avoid debt.  I was one of those single issue voters.  The Reform party (now defunct) made that a big part of their platform and so I found them very appealing.  I wasn't particularly party loyal though - I was all about fiscal responsibility and thought that was how to get it.

If you actually look at spending history in Canada and the US though you find that right wing parties don't do any better balancing budgets than left wing parties do.  Right wing parties tend to lower taxes and spend money on the military, police, and prisons.  Left wing parties tend to spend money on social programs, health care, and the environment.  Since I only get to pick what sort of ways the government is irresponsible with money I will happily vote for my money to go the left wing route.

More importantly though I broadened my horizons in terms of what I care about in terms of governance.  Right wing parties are strongly associated with religious groups, Christianity in particular, and I dislike that intensely.  People should of course pursue whatever religion (or lack thereof) they like but politicians should not use religion, especially one particular religion, as their guiding light when governing a nation full of people who do not follow said religion.  I don't like the way in which Christian worship is often infused into government and I especially dislike how it is often used as a justification for bigotry by those in power.

That bigotry is another troubling issue for me, religion or no religion.  Scapegoating immigrants, marginalizing queer people, and dumping on the poor are pretty standard features of right wing parties.  We don't need extra defence for wealthy, straight, white people - they are doing pretty well as it is.  As far as I am concerned government should not exist to enforce the current social hierarchy. Rather it should focus on creating as much overall happiness as possible and that goal is best served by helping the downtrodden, not by propping up the oligarchs.

In Canada in particular I don't yet know which party I do support, but it is abundantly clear which party I do not.  What my vote will look like next election will depend on what exactly the parties put up as their platforms.  After that my riding will go Liberal like it always does and my vote will be of no consequence, as it always is.  Democracy!


  1. Don't mean to be an A-hole about this but....
    "how I managed to go from supporting right wing parties when I was a teenager to left wing ones"
    I'm curious if you have supported a party or candidate beyond simply voting and talking with those in your immediate circle about it.
    Options include:
    -financial support (ARGHH!!! MONEY DEMON!!!)... lawn signs, for example, cost about $3.50 per... facebook ads, billboards, radio ads etc. cost.
    -helping in campaign offices (sorting, organizing, calling)
    -foot canvassing
    In the next election, will you consider identifying a swing riding in Toronto, donating say... $50, and volunteering 4 hours for a candidate that you support (who might beat a conservative)?

    1. Aside from talking, blogging, and voting, I have not supported a candidate. To be frank, I never actually did any of that for a right wing party, I just liked them in theory. I have only started doing anything about politics since my shift to the left.

      As to what I will do in the next election, quite frankly I don't see any chance whatsoever of me donating. Not that I don't want them to have money and use it, but if I am going to give money I want to give it to the cause that will create the greatest good per dollar spent. I don't feel that political donations are that thing, not even close.

      Volunteering time is unlikely but possible. Thing is, when I volunteer I want to be doing something that makes me feel good. Every time I am contacted by political parties during elections I want to claw their eyes out. Joining the ranks of the people who drive me insane just doesn't seem likely when I can pour as much time as I have into Elli's school and be doing things that feel a lot more worthwhile.

      Being active politically is a fine thing to do and all, but given the reasons above I doubt *my* political involvement will go any further than it currently does.

    2. Thanks for the reply:) Your money point is a particularly interesting one. Lots to think/chat about there.
      Frankly, I'm baffled by your outrage when contacted by political party staffers and volunteers. I would have considered it more interesting than annoying. By paying attention to political behaviours we can get an interesting peek into both human psychology and how political parties operate (and how one informs the other). For me, learning about the concept of "pulling the vote" on election day really opened my eyes to the value of mandatory voting.
      Maybe worth trying to have fun with those phone calls and learn from them rather than getting pissed about what probably averages out to a few phone calls a year?

    3. They called me four times I think on election day. Several of those times I was doing something important and got pulled away to answer yet another call asking me if I had voted. The calls ahead of the election were far less annoying because I either got to argue politics with a conservative caller who knew nothing of the issues (kinda fun) or just say "yup, voting for you" and then end the call.

    4. Those calls on election day would have been because volunteers had gone to your polling station and seen that you hadn't yet voted, which is recorded on a grid like paper at the polling station with numbers in boxes corresponding to your elector number. Volunteers and staff for candidates can get credentials allowing them to go to the polling station and see those lists which they would cross reference with lists of identified supporters. Then volunteers go door to door or call to remind people to vote. Either you hadn't voted yet and they were trying to encourage you to go to the polls or there was a mixup with the polling form with either the Ontario elections staff or the campaign volunteers (either is possible although campaign volunteers is more likely).

    5. I voted first thing in the morning and got four calls throughout the day. It does seem likely that somebody screwed up if they check that sort of thing like you say. Who screwed up, I have no idea. I told them that I had voted and to stop calling me each time though and that didn't stop them at all.