Friday, February 2, 2007

So Do You Trust Your Neighbor?

The commonest reason general vote supporters give in supporting that system is that they want a vote in determining all members of council. They say if there is dead wood somewhere, they want a vote to eliminate the dead wood. They also say they want a “say” in determining every city politician. This is faulty thinking.

When voting across the city for all candidates, they have a one in thirty-thousand “say” in promoting their choice so their chances of influencing the outcome are slight. Even if they know the politician well and know him/her to be a poor choice, voter outcome is going to be determined by the vast majority of voters who do not know the individual personally but have only heard his/her name. Job performance, suitability, intelligence, beliefs, platforms, ideas, service to the people, ethics, etc. all become irrelevant as there are too many candidates to make an informed choice. So the individual “general vote" elector has next to no influence in the result. Politicians get elected only by name recognition. When Oshawa got the ward vote in 1985, over half the sitting council was defeated, all of whom had long careers as city politicians under the general vote.

Democracy, where everyone has a choice, depends upon trusting the wisdom of society to make the right choices. If you know a candidate that is/is not deserving of your vote for some reason, chances are ward electors will get to know this and they will cast their vote the same way as you would have.

The more informed voters are, the better choices they make. Ward voters will be more informed about the candidates than under a general vote. In addition, if 300 or 400 ward voters come to know the individual as you know him, this could make the crucial difference in leading to the victory or defeat of a candidate. These 300 or 400 votes are a big proportion of the 3000 votes cast for a winner in ward voting and so the strength of individual votes is amplified significantly.

Democracy relies on trust in your fellow citizens to make wise choices. As everyone has a vote, you want it to be an informed choice where the voter has a chance to get to know the candidate. If you know the candidate to be dead wood, incompetent, lazy, worthless, boastful, arrogant, ineffective, conceited or whatever, it is likely your opinion will be shared by ward voters who get to know him/her because of the close relationship ward voting promotes between ward politicians and their voters.

An informed choice is the best choice. Ward voting means a more informed vote choice by the electors. Ward voting will produce the best leadership for the people. Ward voting compels the politicians to work for you.

Trust your neighbor to make good choices. This is the essence of democracy. Ward voting is most democratic because voters can make a difference and can turf politicians out of office. It may have its flaws but as Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

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