Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mind numbing disbelief: Or how the NDP lost an easy election

Does anyone remember the 2004 Presidential election in the US? The country was divided by the War in Iraq, and all of the voices of dissent on the left were uniting together to vote a democrat back into power. It seemed all of the stars were aligning for once and there actually wasn’t going to be a vote split. Then something went horribly wrong: Bush won again, and the left cried out in fear and agony over what would become of their country.

Clearly the BC NDP party is not are not students of history. Or for that matter, even recent memory. The NDP disregarded what actually worked in the Obama campaign – honestly and integrity – and instead tried to sling mud and flip-flop on every issue they could. We, as voters, didn’t know what the NDP actually stood for, or how they planned to fix our current problems. Instead, all we heard was how they were going to reverse everything the Liberals did while they were in power even if it made sense. They attempted to get a social media campaign off the ground by creating twitter accounts for their MLAs, but they didn’t actually respond to anything you sent to them. Even Oprah can figure out how to work twitter, and if you can’t manage that, am I really supposed to believe you are capable of running a province in an economic recession?

Now here’s where things get particularly telling, most people I know didn’t actually want to vote for the Liberals. They HATE – yes full capital letter HATE – Gordon Campbell. I, and most people I know, wanted nothing more than to oust him. What the NDP just didn’t seem to get was that all we needed to know is what they were actually planning to do. We just wanted to hear well thought out, innovative ideas. We knew Gordon Campbell screwed up all over the place, shoving that down our throat was just insulting our intelligence. And in the end I just couldn’t vote for the NDP… I just couldn’t do it. No bone in my body could imagine Carol James in power, the thought made my physically ill.

In my mind, the most important thing about a party leader, Canadian, American, doesn’t matter, is that they inspire hope. They have to look like they genuinely care about the world, and have the guts to make the tough decisions. I have to feel like I am in good hands. Actual policy work can be done by advisors, brilliant MLAs and civil servants, but the leader HAS to inspire the people he or she is leading. Not once during the campaign did I feel that from Carol James. I don’t feel that way about Gordon Campbell either, but at least I know he’s not to be trusted. So, in the end, I voted Green and the NDP candidate in my riding lost to the Liberal by 800 votes. For those keeping score at home the Green candidate got 1300.

Yes, in the last election the NDP faced a vote split that the Liberals didn’t because there is no conservative party in the province. But most people I know wanted to vote NDP and simply could not bring themselves to do it. It was the NDP’s election to win and they completely blew, what in my mind, should have been an easy victory. Now it feels like 2004 all over again, and all we can hope for now is a better 2013.


Zoeyjane said...

Yes, we can.

David said...

I left the US in 2005, mainly because of the 2004 Election (I was unenthusiastically working for the get-out-the-vote for Kerry).

This election here feels eerily familiar, just as you point out. The fact that we're not quite citizens yet, and hence, can't vote, didn't keep me from being disappointed that the Liberals won again. I would have been thrilled to see the NDP get a chance to take things in a different direction, but they ran a disastrous campaign. Just like Kerry. Let's hope that they don't do as much damage in 2009-2012 as Bush did in 2004-2008!

Lisa said...

Interesting post. I hear this kind of disgust from a lot of people, but not (yet) reflected much in the pundits we have on air.

(BTW, next election scheduled for 2013.)

Briana said...

Yes I heard many of my peers express exactly this dilemma: they didn't want the Liberals, but they didn't feel confident that the NDP would have anything better to offer. NDP also hurt left-leaning undecideds by opposing the carbon tax. Those of us who lean green had a really hard time voting NDP lest that be perceived as a vote against the carbon tax. Meanwhile, the Greens didn't see a bump because their leader was also lacklustre. From the election results, it seems to me that a lot of people just gave up and stayed home.