Build it up! Rip it down!  A young person’s guide to how our political system works in 2019

This is a short blog on everything you need to know about politics.

Here are the 5 bare facts – everything you need to know:

  1. Canada has at least 3 functioning political parties; likely 4
  2. One party at each level of government is conservative – the other three (Liberal, NDP and Green) are progressive
  3. About 40% of Canadians are conservative. Some say 30% – some say more than 40%. I will stick with 40%
  4. We have a first past the post electoral system – winner takes all.
  5. We do not have mandatory voting meaning that 60% is a high voter turnout.

What this means is that if a conservative party can marshal their natural vote of 40%, they will win every election with a majority. Progressives will split the remaining vote.

With a 60% turnout, the percentage of the electorate needed to win a majority is 24%. Doug Ford won with 24% of the electorate. So did Stephen Harper.

But if a progressive can split the conservative vote and fend off the other parties, then they will win. With a 60% voter turnout, they too will win with less than a quarter of the electorate.

This worked for Kathleen Wynne. Bob Rae did it with even less.

So if it feels like you are being ruled by a small percentage of the electorate all the time, you’re right. You are.

So what’s different?

In the pre-millennial period, politicians of all stripes, once in power, tinkered with the policies of the last government. Not so now.

If progressives build things up, those on the other side will rip them down.

It’s like this now everywhere.

I can’t help but thinking of the Laurel and Hardy silent vignette called ‘Big Business’. An imperfect analogy but everything that has been built up gets ripped down. See if it resonates with you.

Good evening.