This isn’t a new thought, but I’ve held off on talking about because I think it’s probably particularly exemplary of my naiveté and political stupidity. For a long time now, I’ve thought that what’s wrong with democracy is the existence of parties.
I’m spurred toward posting it now in part because when I ranted the other day, I said I would, and partly because of an article that Andrew Coyne published today. Andrew Coyne grates on my nerves. The way he says almost everything makes me cringe. But ever since he said exactly what I was thinking about Occupy Toronto (don’t worry–I’m not going to start on that again), I decided to try to look past it because he’s awfully damn smart. This is as complimentary as my compliments get.
So, Mr. Coyne’s article talks about the impotence of parliament. He suggests, in conclusion, that parties need to give power back to MPs. I think they should do that by ceasing to exist. So we don’t always agree, he and I, which makes me glad.
Why do I think political parties should be outlawed like Elizabethan actors?
To begin with, I don’t see how parties are any different from standardized collusion.
Essentially, belonging to a political party is like saying, “We’ll all vote together and then nobody can compete with us, and we’ll be more able to keep these jobs.” Collusion is illegal when setting the price of can openers, but apparently perfectly acceptable in the governing of nations? That doesn’t make sense. It just… doesn’t.
Political parties don’t help anyone but the politicians.
They’re of absolutely no benefit to the constituents. None. Their one redeeming feature may be that they make a handy way to categorize candidates. But is that worth it? In my mind, no. Furthermore, I don’t want my local candidates running on a national or provincial agenda. I want someone representing me whose first priority is representing me and the people in my riding, not his or her party.
For as long as there are political parties, our elected representatives will never be able to vote in our best interests—at least not all the time. If you want proof, Harold Albrecht SAID all the conservatives were going to vote against the NDP motion which was essentially to uphold democracy last week. How could he possibly know that when he’s just one of them, hmmmm? And in Toronto, Deputy Premier Dwight Duncan avoided answering whether the Liberals had been instructed how to vote on the bill to remove HST from heating bills. TWICE. He just prattled on and didn’t answer the question.
People Constantly Have to Choose Between the Person and the Party
That is an unfortunate circumstance, and on a personal note, led to me making a choice in the federal election that I now regret to the very bottom of my brain. Not my heart. A heart is a terrible place for a perfectly reasonable thought.
If an individual wasn’t required to take his or her party’s policy part and parcel, then an individual could present priorities that actually work for the people in his or her riding as his or her own platform. And then perhaps there would be someone in the running who you actually felt was likely to vote in your best interests.
All This, Really, May Be Passing the Buck
Or perhaps throwing out the baby with the bath water. Or if you have a better metaphor for it, please feel free to let me know. I’m always open to these things. What I’m not saying very well is that the problem is just accountablility. Our M(P)Ps aren’t accountable to us because we don’t ask them to be. Their parties ask them to be.
We just elect them and think that’s good enough. Four or five years is a pretty long time, and most of us stop paying attention. Did you know you can recall your M(P)P? Well, you can’t do it yourself. Imagine the chaos! But you can petition to have your M(P)P recalled, and then they do a recall election, and if he or she loses, you get a new MP.
But if you’re going to do that, you’d probably better have a pretty darn good reason, and you’d probably better run a pretty darn good campaign yourself, because it stands to reason that otherwise he or she will likely just get elected right back.
And either way, you just end up with an MP again, chosen from the same usual pool. So, while we’re on the topic of accountability and all of us paying attention, the next thing I’m going to write about is nominations. Fun, huh? No, I know, it’s not… does anyone even read this anymore?
I suppose what I’m saying is that maybe we should throw out the baby and the bath water, and just get new babies. I don’t imagine we’ll ever get rid of parties (and I don’t know anymore whether they’re the baby or the bath water) but we need to be more wary of them at least. Because, referring to my first point, I think they, as organizations, are basically on par with criminals. They’re like the mob, except much less skilled in waste management.
WHILE WE’RE HERE, I’D LIKE TO PASS A MOTION
Can we just assume that most of the time, i.e. when context calls for it, if I write either MP or MPP, I actually mean… well, either one. Or both. Because this whole M(P)P thing I’ve been doing sporadically looks terrible. Thanks.