Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some of My Reddit Election Chatter

During the election campaign, I spent a lot of time on Reddit, at the r/canada subreddit, talking about politics. If nothing else, it was nice watching the 'orange tide' happen among a certain demographic. Being a lifelong NDPer, I found the Reddit crew being strongly anti-Harper but otherwise divided at the beginning of the campaign, with loyalties seemingly evenly split between the four 'opposition' parties and lots of talk about 'strategic voting'. By the end, that was all dead, and it was all moustache, all the time.

Here's a sampling of moments of pithiness (and on occasion sincerity) on my part in the world of Reddit.

Responding to a question asking who thinks the New Democratic Party should rename itself the "Democratic Party": "Jack Layton does. Or at least did. ¶ They talked about it last year. One reason they decided not to is that the'd become the 'Parti Démocratique' and they would be called 'pédistes', which is slang for a paedophile. At the time (just a year ago, Jesus Christ) there was talk about, 'well how much does the French name really matter?' I think that might have changed by now..."

Talking about newspaper endorsements: "Notice that the vast majority of newspapers, who have over the past month been gated behind steel bars, fed false information, drowned out, ignored and humiliated by Stephen Harper and his Conservatives, still are throwing their weight behind Harper and his party - something which hardly bodes well for journalistic access in the future. The Hamilton Spectator, a TorStar paper in an overwhelmingly NDP city, is stumping for the Tories. The Montreal Gazette, in a city where the Tories are perhaps polling at 10%, wants a Tory majority. The Economist, which is not even Canadian, endorses the Tories."

Talking about the 'happy ending massage parlour' would-be scandal: "It's no more obscene than Sun Media masturbating Stephen Harper."

Responding to someone saying vote splitting will elect a Conservative majority: "Here's an alternate scenario that I haven't been able to shake from my mind: pollsters have formulae for tweaking their results. They don't actually post the raw data from their phone calls but numbers that they've altered, based on previous results, to get what they believe are more accurate results. Everyone always says the NDP poll higher before e-day than they do on e-day. For the reasons you've listed above. So pollsters would have been fools not to account for that. I wonder if the raw data from their phone polls isn't closer to an even split for the Tories and the NDP. ¶ And there are two reasons to think that the NDP will be better able to GTVO this time: One is that people get cold feet on e-day because they realise the NDP don't have a chance - which is clearly not true this time out. Two is because the new NDP supporters are coming from the Liberals and the Bloc - who usually have high turnout. So it's more politically committed people currently inflating Layton's numbers. And I don't think the pollsters have taken that into consideration. ¶ You might be right. But you might also be completely wrong.

Responding to someone laughing at a sign about the 'NPD' and presuming it's a typo: "Dude, I totally saw some election signs that totally misspelt 'Conservative' by putting 'eur' at the end, and I saw some where there was this line above the 'e' in 'Liberals'... Hilarious."

In reference to Harper's quote that the NDP is proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men: "Hail Satan."

A sarcastic rejoinder to someone expressing surprise that his union asked him to vote NDP: "OMFG a union supporting the NDP? Whatever is the world coming to...? ¶ Oh, wait, isn't the Canadian Labour Congress a founding member of the NDP?"

In response to a claim that the name of the Conservative Party is proof that they're good with a dollar: "Don't you know that you should vote for parties based only on their name? After all, it's only a dislike of the monarchy that makes Americans vote Republican, and it's an appreciation of hard work that makes Brits vote Labour."

Replying to a claim that a Harper majority would have people on he streets protesting for Proportional Representation: "That's true. When Chrétien won a majority with only 38.5% of the popular vote in 1997, the streets were filled with people demaning Proportional Representation. Man, FPTP was all people could talk about back then."

Chiming in on an analysis of where the Liberals went wrong: "Another way of analysing that split: Ontario Liberals and Québec Liberals. The Ontario Liberals kept the Bay Street dollars flowing and the Québec Liberals brought the passion. The rest of the country didn't matter very much. It was a pretty efficient system."

Again: "I agree on the first point. The red-door-blue-door thing is a bust, and he hasn't really inspired with policy. Apparently his town halls are roof-raisers, but those are partisan events. ¶ Personally I think Ignatieff is good at what he does. He'll be a good pundit. But politician does not seem to be his vocation, despite being a politician from the top of his head to his tippy-toes, or whatever that god-awful quote was."

Also on Liberal failure, in response to someone asking about differences between Tory attack ads during Dion and during Ignatieff, and asking that I call the latter 'by his full name' and not 'Iggy': "That's an interesting question. I think Stéphane Maurice Dion is by nature more left-wing than Michael Grant Ignatieff, and I think in fact Michael Grant Ignatieff holds several views that are right-wing enough to appeal to small-c conservatives. I think against his will he's been pushed to embrace a more left-wing agenda. Do you recall that when Michael Grant Ignatieff became leader, the wife of Stéphane Maurice Dion started musing aloud on Twitter about a defection to the NDP? ¶ Regarding the Conservatives - in both case they've fought largely on the 'not a leader' angle. But Ignatieff is more savvy in front of a camera if nothing else, and that might have made a bit more of a difference in 2008. With the environment off the agenda in 2011, Dion might have been a less polarising figure, but he'd also have lost much of his raison d'être. ¶ A pleasant parlour game, but what matters is who comes next. I doubt it's Bob Rae, and I'm really curious who it would be. Marc Garneau would be interesting."

My initial comment on Liberal failure, which netted me a lot of upvotes: "There are a few reasons why. Among other things, I think the Liberals haven't really shown a willingness to learn from mistakes. People still remember sponsorship, they still feel that Liberals have a false sense of entitlement, and Ignatieff's umbrage at Harper's democratic failings ring hollow. ¶ Igntieff is a good man and the Liberals are a good party. But they need a serious start-from-zero rethink. They need to be 'the little guys', I think, and claw their way back up. Because what used to work for them isn't working anymore."

When someone suggested incredulously that the NDP might be taking votes from the Tories: "That's not as surprising as it might seem in Ontario and in big cities. The NDP and the Conservatives both originated as Western populist protest parties, after all. They have a decent amount of common ground regarding stance, if not policy. People who supported Harper 100 years ago as 'one of us' might now find he's too Ottawa now, and Layton might be looking more like the new 'one of us'."

Talking about the leaked Tory-compiled list of Harper quotations: "Do you know what's creepy as hell? Each quote is properly annotated, and in the 'context' section, Harper is always referred to not by name but as 'The Leader'. Capital T, capital L. ¶ Jesus Christ, this man is Kim Jong-Il."

Commenting on Joe Volpe's assistant throwing out Green pamphlets: "What's sick is that while Volpe's riding is one of the most hotly contested in the 416, the Green are barely even a spoiler (let alone a contender). It's like a heavyweight boxer deciding that in order to take on the other heavyweaight, he'd better beat up a few toddlers first."

When someone asked why there was no 'unite the left' movement: "No Unite the Left movement? It seems like I never hear anything else. ¶ I'm amazed at how Ignatieff's Liberals are considered 'left'."

When someone got insulted that I suggested that airing Ignatieff's infomercial during Easter Sunday was a mistake since those likely to be watching were likely to already be Liberal supporters: "Why is it insulting? Single adults and the non-religious vote Liberal in higher numbers than the rest of the population. I didn't say all Liberals are family-hatin' god-hatin' types. I said the demographics likely to be tuning in on Easter Sunday are more likely to be Liberal than the other parties. I could have said the same thing about a hockey game. It's just sheer demographics. ¶ And there is one way I'm insulting - or at least criticising - the Liberal party, which I'll stand by: they've made too little of an effort to wrest votes from the Conservatives. Too much of what they've been doing feels like preaching to the converted."

When someone asked, regarding an EKOS typo, what 'British Colombia' was supposed to be: "Shakira with bad teeth."

Attempting to explain differences between polling houses: "There are a lot of tiny factors that can tweak results: (1) do you list leader's names when asking who you'll vote for (favours NDP)? (2) do you even list parties at all or just ask the person responding to name them (lowers Green numbers)? (3) do you use only landlines (favours Cons)? (4) do you only speak French when polling in Québec (favours BQ)? (5) do you poll during hockey games (favours Libs)? The list goes on and on."

Criticising strategic voting: "Hear hear. Strategic voting is holding us back from making real, positive changes to our country. Being told 'your only hope of preventing Harper is voting Liberal' is just as insulting as being told 'the only way to prevent instability is a Conservative majority'."

A huge upvote for a comment in response to the first polls that showed the NDP and the Liberals neck-and-neck: "What this means is that 'strategic voting' sites no longer know what they're talking about - their logic is that you should vote Libs if they're ahead of the NDP or vice versa if vice versa. But noody knows who's ahead anymore in a seriously large number of ridings. ¶ After all, if your heart's with the NDP but you want to cast your lot with the Libs to keep the Cons out - might that not now be counterproductive?"

In response to someone asking why people vote NDP if it might split the vote and lead to a Tory win: "I am not merely voting against the vision of Canada that I disagree with, I am voting for the vision of Canada that comes closest to my own. ¶ I am approaching forty years old but I still believe that government is a power that can and should be used to make the world a better place. I believe people are stronger when they look out for each other and when they stand together; I believe that governmnet is a tool that the people have at their service to best attain these goals. I believe that the sick should be looked after, that workers should be treated with dignity and that the future of our planet should be the starting point for all of the decisions we make that can effect it. ¶ I believe that the people who represent us should hold the same values; they shouldn't merely be beholden to the whims of popular opinion. I have to know that my MPs are progressive, not merely that they can drape themselves in a progressive flag when it suits their interests. ¶ I have only one vote; only one way to add my voice to the way we are governed. I choose to use it to try to build the Canada I want to see, not merely to prevent a Canada I fear seeing. ¶ I refuse to lose hope or to lower my aim; so I vote NDP."

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