Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Adult Assembly Required: To Vote the Candidate or the Party!?

It's currently September 15 and we are just over a month from "E Day", a day that will determine the fate of our current Prime Minister and could/will essentially either correct or drastically change the direction of our country depending on which paradigm of thought you prescribe to.

While this election has been the longest and while many different issues have come to the surface either by design or as a result of world events, we are now getting a better picture as to where the different political parties stand and more importantly how their candidates are handling the election.

Like many other elections, one question should be on your mind and if it isn't you're not paying enough attention! Do I vote for the party I like or do I vote for the candidate that I like?

This should be easy though right? I mean, you like the party and obviously the candidate supports the party, so that makes sense? Yes, this may seem like a simplistic non-issue, but what happens when the party makes grandiose claims, but the candidate just stinks or has a political history that doesn't live up to the party?

Here in Hamilton for example, we have an ex-mayor running as a Liberal contender in the election against a seasoned NDP incumbent and a Conservative social butterfly. To make things more interesting, said ex-mayor used to be a radio star in Hamilton, making his name well known among many older residents. 

This candidate is definitely riding the Trudeau wave in an attempt to convince voters that real change is possible, but to those who have been following his own political career, they might question just how invested he is in change. Since, while in office, he was notoriously known as being a status quo, hard to work with controversial figure, who really didn't promote the city until after he was confirmed as on the radar of Justin Trudeau.  

His Conservative rival on the other hand is socially known throughout the riding and as such has garnered support based on her name from individuals who are either within her circle or close to it, however her party is under a lot of fire since it's leader, Stephen Harper, has done a lot of controversial things over his time in power. 

Either way, this does raise important questions not only about politics in general, but also the way in which our current system is organized. One true aspect that I have come to realize from working in elections in the past is that there are many times where the right candidate is not chosen for the job. Now, what we determine "right" is definitely based on perspective, but this may also answer why so many people have become both cynical and apathetic toward voting and elections in general.

If parties come out with strong platforms, yet recruit horrible candidates or candidates, which quite easily could put a room to sleep, while robbing their wallets. How do we expect to engage more youth and more important maintain the engagement of the electorate? Frankly, many politicians want you to not vote, since the incumbent will directly benefit 99% of the time when voting numbers are low or decreasing.

With a changing world, many of the institutions we have come to cement into our society are becoming increasingly vulnerable and require either updating or an entire evolution in order to further secure them. Elections and the electorate are not separate from this change or the requirements it brings with it.

One dominant change would easily be the rise of social media, which not only has changed our ways of communication, but also gives the electorate another avenue with which to view candidates and judge them. Politics puts you into a glass house, which is why shaming in elections grants results. Recent incidents regarding candidates from all three of the major parties further supports this as their online conversations, became the centre of public attention and essentially led to their resignations. Now, whether all of these resignations were justified is debatable, but in all of the examples, party leaders made sure to protect their brand image by enforcing it and removing candidates who could be viewed as troublesome.

What do you think? Do you weigh more on the side of the party's image and it's leader or the candidate in your riding? 

Remember to watch the upcoming debate Thursday evening!

Until Next Time!

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