In last week’s issue we published the responses of re-elected NDP MLA John Horgan and Liberal candidate Kerrie Reay. Following is the response by Carlos Serra, Green Party candidate.
There is an element of the surreal in an election campaign. At times the process feels like a prolonged job interview in which you are expected to present hope to everyone and doubt to no one. At other times the past four weeks felt like a guerrilla marketing campaign where I was the product in the midst of a desperate fire sale. Regardless, the process reveals little about the candidates aside from their ability to answer a few questions and organize the set up and take down of posters. We probably do a more thorough job checking into the backgrounds and competencies of our plumbers than we do the integrity and convictions of our candidates. People vote for parties, not candidates, or so I was told as I entered the recent election.
Yet, successful politics, like any other occupation, is determined not by membership in a party or employment in one particular corporation, but by the character of the candidate or employee which exists at times despite the party or company. If this is true then constituents should scrutinize candidates with equal or greater rigor as we do platforms, and rather than party slogans or personal pictures, perhaps election signs should present a character reference.
I was reminded at the end of the campaign that this is the 21st Century and the era of nasty politics. We want to know that someone is good but quickly forget such banality; the negative stays with us longer, at least until the final election day. Politics should not be in the same reality as gossip, but the dynamics of effective political campaigning are beginning to resemble the latter and while we may be somewhat seasoned at maneuvering the maze of lies, half lies, half truths and the rare truth found in everyday gossip, we are less skilled at dealing with the short term effects of smear tactics found in modern political campaigns, provincially and especially federally.
Change is such a rare event in politics in part because of the status quo bias, which states that we feel X amount of regret when we act as usual and it turns out wrong, but feel X+ regret when we act in a new way and things turn out not as we hoped. We vote not on the basis of hope, but on the basis of reducing feelings of regret, and the most obvious way of avoiding regret+ is not to vote at all, which approximately 65 per cent of eligible voters in the Juan de Fuca riding chose to do in this past election.
The good news? There’s always 2017.