Saturday, August 17, 2013

Harper shows strong government is bad government

Democracy can get complicated. When there are more than two parties, it’s rare for one party to win the support of the people — that is, an actual majority.

Upside-down democracy

In Canada and the UK, we approach this problem in a backwards, slipshod manner. We let arbitrary vote splitting award all the power to a minority party and call it “strong government.”

At first glance, there’s an obvious problem with this primitive solution (First-Past-the-Post): a minority ends up calling all the shots while the vast majority is shut out of the process.

But when radicals like Stephen Harper get absolute corrupt power on 40% of the vote, the shortcomings of our ironic interpretation of democracy become painfully obvious.

Benign dictatorships

While in opposition Harper called this intolerable situation a “benign dictatorship.” (Of course, he’s perfectly OK with the system as long as he’s the “dictator.”)

But instead of rolling the dice and praying arbitrary dictatorships somehow balance themselves out in the long run, why not do like the rest of the developed world: upgrade to a democratic voting system?

Democracy in the free world

Almost all developed countries typically have stable multi-party majorities that provide checks and balances to government. When parties have to work together and compromise, not only does this best reflect the will of the people, it prevents corrupt, secretive, out-of-control government.

Either Proportional Representation or Preferential Voting (ranked ballot) will stop the insanity. Enough is enough.

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