Thursday, May 05, 2011

Not a party hack

To the best of my memory (I'm a little hazy about my first couple of local elections), since turning eighteen I think that I have voted for (or given first preference to) candidates from at least nine different parties (counting independents as a single party; if counted separately, it may be a higher). I've also now voted in three referenda, all failed.*

I attempted a little while back to summarise briefly where I stand politically.

How many of my votes have I come to regret? Nearly all of them. Voting is such a blunt instrument (even with electoral reform) and I'm more and more tempted towards supporting demarchy.
*The AV referendum has not yet been officially called, but it stands close to zero chance of passing.


Matheson said...

With your track record at backing winners, it looks like demarchy may be your only chance of ever getting a look in ;-)

byron smith said...

More than a few of the candidates I have voted for have been successfully elected. I don't just pick dark horses. Of course, under PR (proportional representation), very few voters would find that the party they voted for did not get a seat, which is one of the advantages of such a system, since nearly everyone (at least a much higher percentage) feel that their vote contributed to electing a representative. It may have other drawbacks, but this is one of its strengths. Since most of the upper house votes (and half of yesterday's vote for Scottish Parliament) use a form of PR, then this partially explains some of my success stories. But on a number of occasions, I have backed winners in other ways.

byron smith said...

(Indeed, it is much easier to regret a successful vote than an unsuccessful one, since the latter allows you to fill with your imagination what your candidate might have done if elected.)

byron smith said...

I don't begrudge people finding a party to support (and even join), especially since most have noble ideals at their heart (though sometimes an unbalanced expression of them that obscures other goods while attempting to preserve one). Indeed, the Kirby Lang Institute for Christian Ethics has recently put out a series (free online here) of booklets that trace the Christian roots of the three main UK parties in an attempt to help Christians explore their political convictions in light of the gospel.

My concern is that frequently, these ideals are actually overridden in practice by short-term considerations of political expediency on the one hand and by often unspoken but powerful ideological commitments on the other (to the very radical form of hypercapitalism that actually serves largely to undermine the ideals of all parties in the long run through its startling social and ecological effects).

And I am less concerned about which party you might support than your media habits. I am singularly unimpressed by what passes as mainstream media in the countries with which I am familiar. It is all very well supporting one party, but if you only listen to the media organ that more or less represents that party, then this drifts very close to accepting propaganda. We are all entitled to our political judgements, but not to our own facts, and much of the media, where it becomes partisan, obscures inconvenient facts and perspectives. This not only leads to an electorate ignorant of many issues, but also to greater social division and the breakdown of political conversation into competing echo chambers (witness the US phenomena in which opposing sides barely speak to each other or listen to anything being said by the opposition, supported by a media echo chamber).

In summary, Christians can well give their (provisional and partial) support to a political party, but I think that insofar as we seek an informed opinion, it is important to listen to sources beyond those affiliated with my own position.

byron smith said...

(The above is a (slightly edited) comment I posted on the Facebook comment thread for this post that I didn't want to lose.)