I like to consider myself pretty open-minded. When I was younger, I listened pretty carefully to what politicians had to say during election campaigns and, in my idealistic youth, actually believed some of it. These days, I still pay close attention to federal elections and, so far at least, I still vote in federal elections. (Local elections are another story - who cares?). I tend to go into any election process with an open mind and at least give the candidates a chance to share their platform before deciding who I will vote for. (My understanding is that in the United States I would be considered an independent, though I also think that term has other connotations that don't apply to me). As Christopher Hitchens has rightly pointed out, politicians are more likely to work at least a little bit for your vote if you don't give it away before hand. There are, undoubtedly, many voters in both Canada and the United States who vote with their preferred party no matter the candidate or the level of the elections. I consider that plain idiotic. Why vote for a complete moron to represent you you government just because they pledge allegiance to an organization (above their allegiance to you, by the way)?
So, in any federal election, I listen to the debates between the leaders of the various parties. I made my decision based on three main factors: the party platform (what they plan to do once elected); the leader's perceived abilities (i.e. what sort of prime minister the leader will be); and the qualities of the local candidate for member of parliament. (If you're not familiar with the Westminster system of parliament, then this may make more sense if you read up on it). In the past, I have given all parties and independent candidates in my riding an equal opportunity to gain my vote. I do recognize that all parties are out to serve the party, not the electorate. I do recognize that pretty much any party that is big enough to have a realistic chance of getting into power has already been bought and will be serving the hand that feeds it rather than the hand that votes for it. I do recognize that every federal government I have witnessed in my life in my country has wasted my tax money, had outrageous scandals, lied and then lied about the lies they've told, and not fulfilled their election promises. I recognize all of that. Yet, I will still vote and choose the candidate that I think represents me best. With one exception.
No matter how well the Conservative Party of Canada lines up their economic policies with my preferences, their social agenda with my beliefs, and no matter how much a local candidate may be the best option, I will never vote for the Conservative Party.Why? Because they are out of touch with basic reality. That sounds like the catch phrase of any disgruntled voter. I could imagine, three years into his presidency, voters complaining that Obama is out of touch with reality. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with them, metaphorically. But when I say that the Conservative Party of Canada is out of touch with reality, I mean it literally, not figuratively. I don't mean they are out of touch with my version of reality. I don't mean they are out of touch with the direction I believe my country should move in. No. They are out of touch with the established reality of the world we live in. And they are officially so. How so? The good old litmus test of evolution. Evolution, except for a number of deliberately ignorant and religiously motivated fools, is established fact. (Well, it is fact for those fools too, they just don't recognize it as such). But, the Conservative Party of Canada has, by appointing a creationist as Minister of State for Science and Technology, officially taken the position that evolution is not reality. This is as basic as having a prime minister or a president who does not believe in gravity. Think about that for a minute. No matter how much you believe in the vision of your favoured politician, how would your feelings about them running the country change if they did not believe in gravity? Would you still vote for them? Or might you be tempted to start to think that they belong in an institution of some sort. And I'm not talking about the one that sits on Parliament Hill.