2010, Politics, Society

An Open Letter, I guess

Dear Mr. Crimmins

I read your editorial in June 7th’s Hamilton Spectator with great interest. Your idea of dispensing with elections is compelling: it would save huge amounts of money, it would shorten campaigns and make them completely unpredictable (hopefully saving us from a situation like that of the US, where each campaign begins after the last election), it would allow extremely popular politicians to avoid elections where the outcome is pretty much guaranteed anyway, and so on.

But the problem as I see it is that your reform would give Canada and / or Britain more of the US’s problems. In the US, factionalism is rampant. Politicians do anything to keep their seats. They change positions constantly depending on what the polls say. This is the kind of system your reform would create here. Every elected politician would be obsessed with polls to a greater extent than they are already (something I hate to imagine). This would not produce coherent policy. Rather it would produce deadlock: numerous politicians all arguing for their region over everyone else’s and in particular the politicians would favour one position one day, and would favour a new one the moment they became convinced this new one would keep them from the bi-election. Your reform doesn’t solve the problems you mention in the letter to the editor; rather it makes them worse. The only way I can see your idea working is if it is implemented as one of many different, competing reforms, where it only affects some of the politicians. Having every politician dependent upon polls is a scary thought.


Riley Haas

(Another issue is a practical one: you would have to set standards for the winners of the bi-elections. Plurality by itself wouldn’t work because you could have someone win the election with, say 33% and they don’t need a lot more people to dislike them before you get another bi-election).

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