Thursday, 7 May 2015

What Alberta Election Results Really Mean

All morning, I've been listening to talking heads babbling about What The Alberta Election Means... basically the same crap they spew after every single election result, with the usual explanations and prognostications that, if you listen carefully are 90% wrong and mostly meaningless. They hyper focus on voter trends and Party Messaging and whether this or that event had this or that effect.
In my own experience, not, as far as I know, supported by any extensive academic study, people will vote based on one or two hot-button personal topics for the party that promises the solution they like best, as long as they don't dislike the rest of the party platform. An increasing chunk of possible voters absorb the meme that "they are all crooks" chiefly promoted through private media stories by powerful interests who do not want ordinary people voting. Or they convince people that parties actually have their interests at heart (they don't).
I submit the real reasons for the NDP win were:
1 - exasperation with the supposed alternative Wild Rose Party who, like Rob Ford, have not a clear vision of a viable, enticing future, but rather a collection of irascible attitudes and thus are unable to govern themselves coherently.
2 - exasperation with the ruling Conservatives who have, just like the Ontario Conservatives of the 1970s begun to feel entitled to their fiefdom and have acted accordingly.
3 - the fact that the economy is not healthy and expanding and spreading wealth and joy across the land. It is, in fact, falling apart at an increasing rate. (see: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-02/major-us-retailers-are-closing-more-6000-stores).
Voters are getting increasingly desperate for a time of prosperity and security that has been disappearing since the 1970s. Right now, Toronto and Vancouver are pretending to have a vibrant economy, but it's based on our own real-estate bubbles. Alberta has pretty much sacrificed every other viable economic sector to the oil/gas interests which worked right up until the price dropped last year. Now their one source of apparent wealth is drying up and there is nothing to take up the slack. Ordinary people may not see this in the paper, but they intuit this from their daily experience which is increasingly at odds with what governments and big media commenters claim.
What happened is this:
Draw a rectangle much wider than tall and then draw a diagonal from one corner through the box. Colour the upper box blue, the lower one orange. Now put a label near the blue end "good" and the orange end "bad" (this refers to economic comfort, not a judgement about policies). As long as everyone is economically good, then people will stick with the blues. now move the line towards 'bad' and notice how, as the feelings about the economy go bad, the number of people willing to switch allegiance goes from blue to orange.
That is what has happened in Alberta. It's what happened in Ontario, 25 years ago.
Good luck to the NDP, please look to history and do not try to impose doctrines developed in and for good economic times on an Alberta that is rapidly sliding into very bad economic times.

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