I’m not terribly interested in speculating, at least for the moment, about why the pollsters would be devastatingly incorrect — again — about a provincial election campaign, this time in British Columbia. My guess is that in this case it has something to do with young people not voting, but again, the answer will become clear over the next couple of weeks. Mainly because that’s what the media will be focusing on.
Instead I have something else to get off my chest. I’m disappointed every time a far-right anti-government political party led by ignorant, unimaginative, corrupt, pro-global warming oligocrats wins an election. But to be honest, I’m not entirely surprised, and I’m actually surprised I’m not more disappointed. Being a leftist of my generation — I’m almost 30 now, so I can no longer truly claim to speak for the youth, but I am part of a generation that elects not to vote in unprecedented numbers — is a lonely lot. It’s also a thoroughly depressing lot, to the point that you sort of get inured to this kind of thing.
In my lifetime, I have not witnessed the creation of a single truly significant social program of any kind. I almost share a birthday with the Constitution, which I revere, but it’s pretty much downhill from there: the erosion and now open elimination of universal healthcare; the rise of free trade and the consequent devaluation of Canadian citizenship; the selling off of most of the profitable elements of the public sector at both the federal and provincial levels; the beginning of the end of Employment Insurance, public pensions and Old Age Security; the rise of a political culture of naked deceit and overt criminality of a sort not normally tolerated in democratic countries with the rule of law and not seen in Canada for a century; the slashing and burning of public education…
And, last but quite the opposite of least, the great turning away from scientifically informed climate policy. That one may sound a bit unfair, since my lifetime also saw the rise of scientifically informed climate policy. However, since the year I was old enough to vote, there has been nothing but setbacks on the question of whether dangerous climate change will be mitigated, let alone prevented. Emission regulation ideas surfaced, and were defeated by the right on the grounds they were inefficient. The carbon tax arose, and was defeated by the right on the grounds that it was a punitive move. Cap and trade arose, and was defeated by the right on the grounds that it was unnecessary government intervention in the economy.
Speaking of the economy, it’s worth noting that so called “centre-right” political parties have correctly judged that the vast majority of Canadians are simply not interested in voting for anything other than a promise of budget cuts, tax cuts, and job growth, basically at the cost of anything else, whether it’s social services or accountability or even a minimal level of integrity and honesty in politics or the environment or our international reputation or anything else. This is precisely the result which my series on evolution and the future of humanity was building towards, so I’ll probably feel a little vindicated on that front if nothing else. These people will be basically evenly split between those who don’t bother voting at all and those who vote for whatever party they have a vague hunch will move in those directions.
Which is why, if there was an actual far-right-wing party, one defined by an actual commitment to the free market or an actual commitment to social conservatism or anything like that, it would actually garner very few votes. Because nobody would vote on principle for that either. I believe that most people assume that the social services they personally require will always be there for them, just as they assume that the environment they need to survive will always be there for them. And they vote, or don’t vote, accordingly.