Saturday, April 29, 2017

Will the Conservative Party choose to fail like the US Democrats?

As a current Conservative party member I have received fundraising calls from the Conservative party.  The worst so far was from someone who started by talking about the leadership race, and I mentioned I have made a donation to my candidate.  She then spoke about how this increases the donation limit for the year : that I can donate to the candidate and to the party.

She then proceeded to list the party talking points, one of the first was how the Liberal carbon tax was a tax on everything.  To be honest, I didn't hear anything else she said as it was clear that there was no possibility I would be donating to my candidate -- Michael Chong -- and a party that was apparently campaigning against the only candidate that has resonated with me so far.  Michael Chong's revenue neutral green tax shift (from income to carbon) was the policy that made me take notice of the leadership race, and to learn about other policies we agreed on.

As politely as I could I hung up on her.
I also started to get emails from Maxime Bernier's campaign.  I never signed up for anything from his campaign, nor any of the other withdrawn candidates that endorsed him.  So I have to guess that the Conservative party itself added me to Bernier's list, as I opted-in to their list and to Michael Chong's list.

This reminded me of the US Democrats and how the party (staffers, fundraisers, etc) treated Clinton as "their candidate" even though Bernie Sanders was resonating with a whole new group of people who could have won the Democrats the Whitehouse.  Instead the party pushed (in ways some of us thought of as corruption) "their candidate" onto the ballot, and they managed to lose an election against a reality television star with no concrete policy ideas (just the run-of-the-mill angry political noise, what many are characterizing as "populism").

Has the Conservative party decided to give up the next general election and the possibility of their leader becoming the Prime Minister?  Maxime Bernier and I may have libertarian views, but the smaller you make government the more important it becomes what you believe must be left.  I do not recognize myself in what I hear from Maxime Bernier.

That isn't the same thing as saying that I won't be ranking him on my ballot.

The Conservatives will be using an advanced ranked ballot system.  Unlike a minimal-information single-X ballot, leadership voters need to think beyond who we most want to win the contest.  If we want to maximize the effectiveness of the ballot we need to rank all the way to who we would least like to win the contest.

While not focused on a single winner contest, an article by an Australian titled How To Best Use Your Vote In The New Senate System , specifically the question "I've numbered, say, 23 boxes and I don't like any of the other parties/candidates.  Should I stop now?", helps explain how to maximize a high-information ranked ballot.

A lot of voters - especially a lot of idealistic left-wing voters - are a bit silly about this and worry that if they preference a party they dislike they may help it win.  Well yes, but your preference can only ever reach that party if the only other parties left in the contest are the ones you have preferenced behind it or not at all! If that's the case then someone from that list is going to win a seat, whether you decide to help the lesser evils beat the greater evils or not. 

If Michael Chong becomes leader, I will be giving the Conservative candidate in my district a much closer look than I have in more recent elections.  Under our current electoral system it is the local candidate who needs to represent me, and their ability to do so is tied into the environment the party offers.  It is critical whether progressive conservative values (such as a green tax shift) will be embraced, or ignored by people who put blind ideology and slogans ahead of logic and evidence based decision making.

If Maxime Bernier becomes leader I know that no matter how good my local candidate is they won't be able to represent me, as a party that makes Mr. Bernier the leader will spend too much time chanting simplistic slogans and not enough time making evidence based decisions.

There is a line after which I won't be interested in voting for the locally nominated candidate as I will believe the party won't allow them to represent me.  As a progressive conservative (lower case as that party is gone) I can't support any of the social conservative candidates.  I think the party would lose many seats if one of the social conservative candidates won. I believe most Conservatives recognize that, so one of the social conservatives wining is unlikely.

If you exclude those who want to talk about their highly subjective idea of what constitutes "Canadian values" or "barbaric cultural practices", who do we have left?
I haven't made up my mind on all the candidates.  We still have 13 candidates, and only 4 more weeks to go.  I'm just very frustrated to learn that party staffers and volunteers are apparently campaigning against the best chance of the Conservative party leader being the next Canadian Prime Minister.

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