It’s standard operating procedure for a particularly odious type of schoolyard bully to go out on the playground and pick a fight with some victim and then, the moment things go against him, to run and hide behind the teacher, screaming, “He started it.” What this bully has learned at a very young age is a tenet of politics. Figure out your dirty deed. Do it. Then get there first with the complaint that your victim is the one that caused the problem.
Unfortunately, it works. Look at Donald Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton. Subsequent investigations have shown that she was doing little, if any of the accused actions while he was doing them all and worse while screaming and pointing the finger at her. And he won the election
It works because it puts the victim on the defensive and starts one of those “I did not/You did too” arguments that sidetracks any investigation into the real cause of the problem. At the very least elicits the “It takes two to start a fight” reaction. Which is completely false, because the bully started the fight and wouldn’t let up until his victim either fought back or gave in. But it all works to the bully’s advantage.
How it Plays in Politics
What we have in the Proportional Representation argument is an identical situation. The opponents of Pro Rep have been on the attack from the beginning. “Pro Rep is too complicated. Pro Rep will cost a fortune. Pro Rep will cause disenfranchisement of the rural ridings in the Interior.” And on and on.
But like the bully’s “They started it” complaint, if anyone checks out the various claims, they will be faced with one unarguable fact.
FPTP Started It
Of course they did. Pro Rep has never been run in B. C., so any speculation of the negative effects (and much speculation of the positive ones, as well) is just that: speculation. As you listen to the No side arguments (especially the alienation of rural ridings) remember that these problems have existed for many years under the FPTP system. Some of them have been caused, at least in part, by that system. In fact, Pro Rep is probably going to help solve the problems, not make them worse. I say “probably,” because we have evidence from other jurisdictions that indicate a high chance of success. But we can’t be sure unless we try.
Only One Thing Is Certain
Remember that there is one thing Pro Rep absolutely guarantees: a rare situation in politics. The basic idea behind Proportional Representation is that in order to run the province, a party must have the support of more than 50% of the voters. Since the average ruling party in this province over the last 50 years has only had a 40% majority, that’s a pretty good improvement.
For those of you who know how to manipulate statistics, an improvement of 10% over an average of 40% is a whopping 25% gain.
I’m happy to stick to the real numbers. Proportional Representation will give another 10% of the voters in the province a definite say in the election of our legislature.
And for all the nay-sayers who bleat about everything that’s wrong with the system remember this:
Our FPTP leaders have had centuries to fix these problems, and they haven’t made much progress. This leads us to suspect their system is part of the cause. That’s right. They really did start it.