Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you get to an airport security gate or a border and find out that the rules have been changed? Again! No, it’s not a mistake or bad bureaucracy. The people who spend their lives dealing with lawbreakers have learned that keeping laws the same gives criminals time to find ways to slip around them.
Now think about the FPTP voting system, which has been around for hundreds of years.
FPTP is the simplest form of democracy. You ask everyone their opinion, you add up the votes, and the opinion that wins…wins. Sounds great.
Full democracy, as practised in many tribal governments, is highly complex and difficult. Full democracy means 100% agreement by everyone before action is taken. Very difficult. Very time-consuming. In today’s economy, prohibitively expensive.
So there is still a leaning among a large segment of our population towards the good old days where we could understand everything. Let’s take a quick glance at the Way We Were:
The Good Old Days of Democracy
500 BC – Athens
The landowning elite in ancient Athens used FPTP as a simple way to demonstrate which power bloc was the strongest.
1215 AD – Magna Carta
The nobles of England (another landowning elite) got together and presented King John with an ultimatum that gave them a say in government. Just them. Nobody else.
1776 – American Constitution
Another landowning elite wrote the American Constitution, creating a so-called democracy which nurtured a civil war, civil rights chaos, the NRA gun lobby and the Trump presidency.
Historically speaking, the FPTP system is a simple way to allow a small number of people to have absolute authority to control a larger group. A simple system developed during autocratic times, custom designed to allow an elite to rule. If you look around the world at the leaders who have been “elected” by the FPTP system, you’ll see what I mean. Putin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Trump. For all I know, Kim Jong-un. FPTP elections seem rather easy to rig.
In today’s complex society, with an educated population, a more democratic system is required.
Where Are We Going?
For the last few centuries progress in democracy has focused on getting the vote for more and more people. When we reach the point of wondering if 16-year-olds should vote, it’s obvious that tactic has been successful. It’s time to move on.
The Next Step?
Find a way to make all those new votes count. And some type of Proportional Representation is the way to do that.
At the moment it doesn’t really matter. Looking at the four types of Proportional Representation listed on the Fair Vote Canada website, I’d say two are pretty far fetched, one is a bit too simple, and the other is a bit too complicated. An argument for another time.
Winning this plebescite is the objective right now.
Let’s get one thing straight. When it comes to democracy, simpler is not better. Simpler makes it easier for power blocs to form and take over. Hence the last 1500 years of FPTP. It isn’t surprising that our former leaders are not happy to find their tidy system may be uprooted. After all, their mantra is “Stability, Simplicity and Success.”
Stablity, allowing one party to rule BC for over 75% of the last 65 years.
Simplicity is what allows this to happen.
Success doesn’t mean success for you and me.
You Want Simplicity?
Look at those supporting FPTP. Why are they supporting it? Because it allows them to stay in power and keeps everyone else out.
Now ask yourself if that’s democratic.