If Your Side Loses, Don’t Blame the Voters

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I don’t know which political party is going to come out on top on October 21st, but one thing I do know for certain is, no matter who wins, there’s going to be an awful lot of angry people on October 22nd.

After all, anger has been the one constant theme during this endurance contest of an election, so why should it be any different once our national nightmare is finally over.

For instance, if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ends up winning the election, I suspect many Conservatives will be tempted to say something like, “Wow.  Anybody who voted Liberal must be a complete moron, since Trudeau is clearly nothing but a selfie-taking, corrupt joke.”

And New Democrats might respond to a Liberal victory, thusly, “If you voted for a guy who once dressed in blackface, you must be OK with racism.”

Meanwhile if the Conservatives win, I suspect Liberal supporters will rage on and on about the idiocy of ill-educated Canadian “deplorables” who voted for Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer despite his homophobic desire to usher in an era of Medieval darkness.

Of course, if a Conservative victory is seen to be the result of the NDP eroding Trudeau’s voter base, the Liberals will also chastise New Democratic voters as stupidly helping Scheer and thus betraying Canada’s progressive ideals.

For their part, New Democrats would probably see a Scheer victory as evidence that Canada must be teeming with white nationalist, Fox news-watching, racists.

The point I’m making here is that there’s a disturbing trend in our society, where instead of sticking to criticizing politicians, some political activists and media commentators have taken to viciously attacking their fellow citizens simply because they don’t like the way they vote.

And citizens who are deemed to have voted “incorrectly” aren’t just portrayed as wrong on the issues, but as bad people.

We certainly observed such a phenomenon take place after the last US presidential election which saw Donald Trump elected President.

For example, just days after Trump’s victory, journalist Lauren Pelley scolded the 53 percent of white American women who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, suggesting they had failed the “feminist cause.”

The Doug Ford electoral victory in Ontario triggered a similar response.

Writing in the Toronto Star, columnist John Barber blamed Kathleen Wynne’s loss to Ford on “populist derangement”, as he argued Wynne “failed because she’s a woman, and because she’s gay.  She failed because she’s Ontarian, at the mercy of Ontarians, and we’re as ugly as anyone.”

Sheesh John, speak for yourself!

I realize, of course, demonizing the other side is a good way to whip up a base and to garner donations and to generate clicks; heck, in my career I’ve done more than my fair share of demonizing, but, in my view, when you expand such attacks to include regular citizens, that’s bad for democracy.

Surely a healthy, vibrant democratic society is one where citizens can respect the political views of other citizens even if they don’t agree with them.

We need to keep in mind that when individuals cast their ballots, they do so in the genuine belief that their choice will help make the country a better place, whether that means their supporting “blackface” Trudeau or “Bible-thumping” Scheer.

So with that in mind, I’m making this plea.

If your side loses the election next week, please don’t blame voters and call them “stupid” or “racist” or “morons” instead blame your own party for not making persuasive enough arguments.

In my experience, voters tend to make the right decision based on the facts and arguments that are put before them.

Indeed, isn’t that the basic premise of democracy?

Sure, we can be upset if our side loses, but as Abraham Lincoln once suggested we should also have “a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people.”

Anyway, all I’m saying is people can vote for a party you don’t like and still be a good people.

Photo Credit: CBC News

More from Gerry Nicholls.     @GerryNic

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