Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apologies to Steve V

I left a comment to this post from Steve V of "Far and Wide." I guess it rubbed him the wrong way because this was his reply to me:
What an asinine comment. Seriously.
In all honesty Steve V. I meant for that comment to be provocative. You see, I've been reading a LOT of Liberal bloggers lately, who are not only doing the usual "Strategic voting = voting Liberal" thing, and calling for the NDP to curl up and die on their behalf, but, what's worse, being so self-righteously indignant that the NDP isn't committing suicide. To be fair, the NDP is also campaigning hard against the Liberals and acting like spoilers in other ridings. But I haven't seen the same level of self-righteous, self-entitled, self-pitying whining on NDP-supporters' blogs. So, when I saw Steve V.'s post, which was itself a response to surging NDP polling numbers in Quebec, and the gist of which was to belittle the significance of the information and to see how the Liberals could bring the NDP's numbers back down, I decided to reply with my version of the "vote for my party or you hate Canada and love harper" routine that I tend to hear mostly from Liberal bloggers and commentators.

This is all most unedifying. For the most part, I agree with the sentiments at dawg's and Rusty Idols. I stand by what I said at Cliff's blog.
In this election, with the paper-thin enthusiasm for democracy in this country, I believe it's symoblically important to allow Liberals to defeat harpercons.

Whatever the arrogance an corruption of previous Liberal governments, they never strayed as far into the gutter or as far into the methods of dictatorship as harper has.

As progressives and as democrats, we should struggle together to say to harper and his pay-masters: "That's as far as you're going."

But yeah, ... the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives is the difference between APEC Vancouver and the G20 Toronto.
At the same time, I can't help but agree with PSA's comment at the Galloping Beaver site:
harper is a bad man. he should be fired from his job. barring a wandering troll, i think that's a given here. beyond that, demanding that everyone hold their nose and vote against their better judgement doesn't seem a healthy response to the bad man.

fuck the school of foregone conclusions that says the ndp will never or that the lpc must. the mad clamour for strategic voting strikes me asa good way to reduce turnout. a low turnout is a harper government. it won' be people voting ndp against the liberals that will lose this vote to the wretched frickin' cons. it will be the unappealing chore of voting against your instincts, voting against rather than for something.

what will lose this election for the liberals will be their own failure to attract more voters to the polls. they will lose because they've spent half a decade sucking fumes and failing to serve this country. they will lose on their own merits, not because someone voted green or ndp instead of we hate harper. fuck.

strategic voting is a losing plan.

and for the record, i won't trust parties that play the voter for patsies. i want the parties to go out and hit the hustings with every gram of energy and passion they can muster. i want liberals to grow some fucking spinal columns, generate the best platform the middle managers and focus groups can assemble for them and campaign to win in every riding. i want layton and the ndp to stand up for what they believe and fight tooth and nail to become the government, not to be hand maids or select enablers. and i want the cpc to drive off a cliff into the sea. i have no fucking time or patience for anybody whining that one of the opposition parties was mean to the other one and whah harper will win 'cos of meanies. that holds as much water as the evil monsters stripping civil liberties and crying that if we don't let them lock people up forever without charge or trial then the terrorists win. those motherfuckers are the terrorists. if you have to hold your nose to vote you. are. doing. it. wrong.
At the end of the day though, I believe the symbolism of stopping the extremist harper is more important than the problem of voting against something rather than for something. It's gotten that bad.

And I think that I've been consistent about this. I think my posts can withstand scrutiny to see whether or not I've practised what I preach. (Yes, I know, it's all only blogging.)

Speaking of which ... a shout-out to Scotian! Scotian, you left a comment on my blog and I paid you the respect of a lengthy reply. From the comments section of the "Far and Wide" post, I noted that you are aware of its existence. You denigrated my sincere reply to your comment as something written in a fit of pique. Very well then. Don't bother typing anything for me anymore. You appear to put a lot of energy into what you say, and I thought you'd welcome a serious response. I don't know why you type those things now though. Since there's to be no give and take, I see no point in reading your lengthy screeds.

My take on the polls showing the NDP neck-and-neck with the Liberals? Here's what I'm hoping: I'm hoping that it's a sign that as late-capitalism become more and more unable to deliver the goods, more and more voters are getting polarized. Shit-head Liberal politicians like Dalton McGuinty or George Smitherman, who campaign on vaguely progressive promises but govern merely as un0bnoxious (in comparison with Harris, Klein, harper, Ford, Hudak "Conservatives") are going to find themselves increasingly rejected by voters looking for a modicum of social justice in their societies. The mushy middle cannot hold. That's what I hope. I hope the hypocritical Liberal Party of Canada dies. On the one side, the guys who teamed up with the Conservatives to sign the free trade deal with Colombia can slither over to that party, and the ones who thought that maybe they could get something good accomplished with what was once Canada's natural governing party can join the party that at least acknowledges that capitalism has some serious problems. Then, perhaps, more and more people in the wider society can be educated about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of modern-day "Conservatism" and that movement too will expire as the hideous aberration it is disgusts and revolts 80% of the people who vote.


evilscientist said...

Frankly, the whole vote-split thing is overrated. Based on second preferences in the last election, vote splitting wasn't a significant factor in the outcome of the election.

The common fallacy is that if the NDP were to disappear, then all those votes would go to the Liberals. Of course this isn't the case and as the numbers show vote splitting only affected the outcome in a handful of ridings, not enough to make a difference in the election.

Steve V said...

Thanks for the apology, but you don't have to. I just don't understand how that post initiated that response. It was just a read, and I think it quite fair. I acknowledged the NDP uptick, but all the analysis I've read warns of soft support, as well as a real lack of a ground game.

I've pretty much avoided the NDP this election, but I must say these ads they are running, Layton's stump speech, this is FORMAL attack on the Libs, and it speaks volumes. Turn it around, if Libs were doing, oh my god, the sanctimous army of disdain. Anyways I have been holding my fire, so to get this "oh for christs sake" from you, it was totally unwarranted here IMHO.

I'm not participating in all the blogger drama, it doesn't matter to be honest. If you want to take issue with me, have at it, but my response was frustration, because your frustrations seemed unfounded.


thwap said...

Steve V,

I guess I wasn't clear in my post.

I read your post as follows:

1. Polls show NDP surge.

2. Denigrate poll results.

3. Discuss how Liberals can neutralize NDP surge (rather than battle harpercons).

And, yeah, YES, you're right, the NDP has started to go full-out attacking Ignatieff. And FWIW, I think that's a misuse of resources.

But among bloggers, I first noticed that it was the Liberals with the distortions of strategic voting, the sense of entitlement, and then the wounded, self-righteousness.

Both teams have been forgetting who the real enemy is IMO, but for the most part, I've limited my criticisms of the Liberal bloggers to these self-serving distortions of strategic voting, or Scotian's nutso slagging of Jack Layton in your post about harper's response to the Tokyo earthquake.

thwap said...

evil s,

I gotta say, your post is inneresting.

we also gotta count though, FPTP and how it distorts who would have voted for what.

Todd said...

Scientist, I'm not sure what the point was in your post: the Conservatives didn't get in if the vote wasn't split; _that_ was the point, not that the Liberals should have gotten a comfy majority.

As for the Nanos poll, yes, people can always stay home in a funk if they don't get to vote for the party they _want_ (as opposed to voting so as to keep a real stinker of a party out). But that just shows me the depth of liberal ideology that affects the left in Canada.

evilscientist said...


The calculations were based on a Nanos poll in 2008 on second choice parties. The parties that placed third had their votes distributed to the second choice party, the assumption being that if the third place candidate wasn't there at all those votes would go to the second choice candidates in the proportions given in the 2008 Nanos poll. It still assumed the FPTP system, not an STV.


The point is that the vote split wasn't as much a factor as many Liberals believe. The assumption (apparently) is that if the NDP didn't exist, all those votes would go to the Liberal party. The 2008 Nanos poll suggests otherwise. Using that as a guide, if the third place party's votes were re-distributed via the proportions in the Nanos poll, Harper still would have won in 2008 by pretty much the same amount.

So what I am saying is that the "a vote for the NDP is a vote for Harper" that they hyper partisan Liberals are putting out there is a myth. A myth destroyed by the fact that the Grits aren't necessarily the second choice of most Dippers, and the fact that in many ridings the NDP came in second and it could be equally argued that a vote for the Liberals is a vote for Harper.

Todd said...

"The point is that the vote split wasn't as much a factor as many Liberals believe."

It might not have been much of a factor, but, as you demonstrated, it was likely enough to tip the scales towards the Conservatives. A Liberal minority, I think, wouldn't have been the exact same as a Conservative one.

That being said, I would hardly demand that the NDP or Greens simply roll over in every riding, hoping the Liberals would get the votes. Stay out of ridings where the Cons or the Liberals are historically close enough to a sure thing, but contest them where parties to the left of the Liberals are more likely to win or no clear pattern has appeared.

evilscientist said...


If you read the whole post, the Conservatives would still have won the 2008 election, albeit with about 10 less seats even without the vote splitting. The Grits would have had a minority if and only if all non-Liberal progressive votes had gone Liberal. That is not going to be the case as the article points out. In actuality with the data from the 2008 election only about a quarter of the votes that went to non-Liberal progressive candidates would swing Liberal. About the same amount swings Conservative so there is little net gain for the Liberals (or NDP) if there were no vote splitting.

To restate, if there had been no vote splitting in the 2008 election, the Conservatives would still have won the election. It is an error to state otherwise.

Todd said...

I read the whole post. I even followed your link to the poll results. I'm basing what I'm saying from this:

"So what was the result? The following table shows the actual election night results and what would have happened under the assumptions of this vote de-splitting scheme . . . . As can be seen, we'd be in a Liberal minority situation."

"The Grits would have had a minority if and only if all non-Liberal progressive votes had gone Liberal."

Yes. In other words: this might have happened. And it might still happen.

Your second set of tables indicates that, if people had actually carried out what they said were their tendencies (assuming they were speaking the truth), the practical results would have been the same as what we've had: a (slightly smaller) Conservative minority.

What I see in your tables is that there's a slim chance for the Conservatives to be kept from direct power if people voted more strategically.

What I do NOT see is that there's no chance whatsoever that strategic voting has no effect in keeping the Conservatives from power.

"if there had been no vote splitting in the 2008 election, the Conservatives would still have won the election."

Then why doesn't your first table show this?

Todd said...

(Thwap, FYI: your comment box ate my reply to ES.)

thwap said...


It was probably a lengthy thing? (blogger has been doing that to me lately. i don't have any way to get it back for you. i don't think i ever did, but i also clicked on something so that i no longer get e-mail notifications of people's posts.)