EDITORIAL: Vote your conscience

Image from elections.ab.ca. Voters will get their choice of six candidates in the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul riding: UCP candidate David Hanson, Alberta Party candidate Glenn Andersen, NDP candidate Kari Whan, Alberta Advantage Party candidate David Inscho, Alberta Independence Party candidate David Garnett-Bennett, and Independent Kacey Daniels.

After a big, loud campaigning period – election day has arrived in Alberta.

Forgive me because I have few other comparisons, but the occasion does seem bigger here in 2019.

Even the political commentators devoted to analyzing elections repeat this is a big election, a time-stamped day in Alberta’s history, with each electoral direction charting a different (yet likely similar) path.

It was certainly louder with the help of daily election promises, sharp sound bites, and rediscovered audio from years ago. And the criticism was not spared. The mud slang, no doubt.

But the UCP’s power play, which began in 2017 with the uniting of the old fat-cat PC’s and Wildrose, has stoked emotions in every political aisle by its very existence, proving that the goal was to seize the power back from the NDP and – hopefully – stir up fond remembrances of Klein and Lougheed.

Of course, the NDP’s response was to drill down the leadership race and make decision day for Albertans a referendum on Rachel versus Jason. Notley fighting for you. Kenney fighting off fires in the caucus.

With all this volume and coverage, it would seem natural that Albertans would be a little more informed – but I’m not sure that’s the case. Content and meaningful discussion, has been replaced by the sport of politics, the theatre and battleground of large campaigns in each new major election in the west.

It’s made this election period extremely annoying.

There are six options available in this riding and a menu to choose from, even for those with an exotic but vapid taste.

Regardless, you might feel pressured to believe you only have one or two choices, since it is such a big election, and you’d hate to throw your vote away, as someone might scold you for.

What should your vote be for?

Ultimately, isn’t the best thing to do with your vote to make a statement, a reflection, of what you honestly believe?

In saying that, I implore you to ignore the shallow reasons some give to “avoiding vote-splitting,” and instead ask to honestly vote your conscience whether it’s UCP, NDP, Alberta Party or even separatism.

-But aren’t you throwing your vote away?

Elections needs to honestly reflect what people are thinking and feeling politically. There is no need to muddy the water by voting for a party that doesn’t represent your views.

No vote is wasted if it’s what you honestly believe.

Today, more and more power games are happening in legislatures, commons places, and Senates and on and on.

The way governments are functioning in the west is a focused, all-out effort to stay in power as long as possible, while leaving the concerns of citizens lower on the list of priorities.

Party politics is much more of a force against the people than any type of government.

Don’t we dislike politicians when they don’t vote with their conscience on legislation, but instead tow the party line and say yes or no automatically?

Aren’t we frustrated with unresponsive people in positions of mass communication and power? People who repeat slogans or decide in slogans?

My point is that I find the argument of vote splitting deeply frustrating because it coerces voters to choose something that doesn’t reflect their political or personal views, something that frustrates many in politics. And politics needs more honesty, not less.

I know this is a simple point, but this appeal at reason with making sure your vote counts by choosing the winning uniform instead of your own – is dishonest.

Vote your conscience. Vote for who represents you. Vote NDP. Vote Alberta Party. Vote UCP. Vote Alberta Advantage Party…vote whoever. Vote honestly.