Strategic voting is a loss

A lot of people seem enamoured enough of so-called “strategic voting” to be preaching it to the rest of us.

For what it’s worth, I think voting that way is a loss. Why?

Because votes count for more than just winning, for one thing. Demonstrating significant support for a party (or a candidate) furthers that party’s (or candidate’s) chances next time, and causes the electorate and the other parties and the press to take note. The data matters even when you haven’t cast a “winning” vote.

Total votes cast also have a direct impact on the bottom line, both in terms of fundraising and in terms of electoral expense reimbursement. A vote is virtually a donation.

But it’s more than that. If you are thinking about voting “strategically” in this coming election, chances are you’re doing it because you’re afraid of what happens if the Conservatives “run up the middle” because the other parties “split the centre-left vote.”

Well, sorry, but I don’t think there’s a centre-left vote. If I want centre, I’ll vote centre, and if I want left, I’ll vote left.

Why isn’t anyone whining about the centre-right vote, which is effectively what Harper and Trudeau are fighting over?

Consider this: that chart that’s been going around, urging strategic voting, shows the alternative as the Conservatives eking out a slim edge in seats—but miles from a majority, with the other two major national parties nearly tied.

Does anyone seriously think a Conservative minority is going to function this time around? Would the Liberals, or the NDP form a coalition with the Conservatives, or pass a Conservative budget?

Maybe a near three-way tie after election day isn’t such a bad thing. Certainly the spectre of it is not enough to scare me away from voting for the candidate, the platform, the party, the leader of my choice. I balance all those things, in roughly that order. I believe in that.

Most importantly: I’m not voting because I fear outcomes, and I’m sick of being told to be afraid. You may be afraid, and if so, I’m sorry for you. I’m not afraid. If you vote strategically because a bully made you afraid, I think you’ve lost even if you ‘win.’

I’m voting the way I believe, with my conscience. I’d be happy to see everyone do the same.