Strategic Risks.

I was not raised to have a conscience of guilt. And yet I stand at an ethical cross road feeling overwhelmed, creating lists of pros and cons, reciting Kant’s categorical imperative, asking W.W.J.D? and questioning the possible future implications of my choices. It sounds intense (and boring) but I do this because on October 25th/2010, I want to sleep with a clear mind.

October 25th marks the day of the Toronto Mayoral election, and although most people SHOULD be questioning which candidate they think will be the best fit to run this city, this seems to be anything but the case.

The front runner, Rob Ford, I can easily categorize as that douche bag who snaps his fingers in restaurants, calls waitresses ‘sweetie’ and leaves a lousy tip after complaining about everything. He’s the family member who ‘wins’ arguments because he talks the loudest and backs his opinions not with facts, but with angry ill-thought syllogisms. He’s the Mayoral candidate who in my opinion probably knows a lot about running a business, but little about running a city. Paired with ignorant statements about immigrants, the poor, homosexuals, art, living sustainably etc. I would never want him representing my city in a million years.

And I don’t think a lot of others would either, except that he’s harnessed (or instilled) a collective sense of revolutionary anger over how city hall is run while shifting the focus from the importance of civil society to how badly others are doing. A decision to vote for Ford, therefore, is not a vote FOR anything, but a tactical strategy against what we already have or hope to achieve.


But, I can’t cast the first stone against these angry voters because I am now faced with the same decision.

The truth is, when I go to put my X on the ballot in October, I’m being asked “who do you think will best run this city”? And unfortunately, there is no “not Rob Ford” option. There is the option of voting for the candidate I want, but he is trailing far behind. In the opinion of others it would be ‘a waste of a vote’, which is why most people I know have decided to engage in the same tactical strategy as the angry Rob Ford lovers (RBLs). That is, to vote FOR a person (the 2nd runner up, George Smitherman) in order to vote AGAINST Rob Ford.

But in the same way, strategic voters aren’t voting FOR anything, they aren’t questioning the perhaps contentious ideas and values of the 2nd runner up. They aren’t saying what they want, how they want their city to look, only that they don’t want Rob Ford. At this point, Smitherman could probably run on a campaign of “I’m not Rob Ford” and have a pretty good chance at taking the race.

So this is my dilemma. Do I vote for George Smitherman, a candidate I don’t really like, in order to save my city from the bumbling idiocy of Rob Ford? Or, when the ballot asks me to put an X beside the candidate I think is best, do I tell the truth, and vote for the candidate who most assuredly won’t win?

The stakes are high! And only one month left to decide.


About Ashley Drake
Don't cha wish your girlfriend could blog like me

9 Responses to Strategic Risks.

  1. Johanna says:

    Vote for the candidate that you believe will do the best job. That’s the problem with strategic voting, people vote for someone who they think will win, not the person they actually want. If people voted according to their preference, results might reflect it, as in, the person they voted for might get elected.

    My question: What’s wrong with the left in this country? The only strategy they have to combat the increasing support for Ford is to ramp up support for the 2nd most popular candidate. A candidate who is likely worse than Ford. From a political standpoint it’s antithetical to what they actually want.

    • Ashley Drake says:

      Oh Jo, I always do. I always think I’ll join the masses of strategic voters but then the day comes and I can’t.

      The left in this country has let the lexicon of ‘change’ and ‘revolution’ go to the right (ie tea parties, common sense revolutions etc) but there are obviously gross contradictions in the current system, and I’m positive they will be revealed for what they are eventually. and by positive, I mean hopeful :s

  2. Jules Cosby says:

    Something tells me that your homeboy Kant couldn’t help you out on this one, Ashley. I doubt he – sitting at the pinnacle of history that was 18th century Prussia – was exceptionally concerned with democracy. That said, another brother in the same formal tradition, Rawls, might be your man.

    If these candidates were placed in a Rawlsian situation, they wouldn’t be able to tell who was the douche, who was the progressive, etc. I find it hard to believe in a situation like that someone like Rossi could suggest we dig another tunnel under the city, not for a subway that would benefit more people, but to finish an expressway that was axed years ago. Or, more to your point, Rob Ford might not be such a misogynist or so anti-immigrant because he could easily be that cute waitress, or the Phillipina nanny.

    I’ve always felt that Rob Ford is campaigning on the wants of a few – rich suburbanites – versus the needs of many. But those few have an awful lot of power in the face of the many. And this is where he Left is pissing me off as usual. They are [with some very good reason obviously] whining about Rob Ford, but I don’t see a damned one of them rallying behind the only credible progressive candidate, Joe Pants. Get on the phones, start passing out flyers, etc.

    Anyway, long story short: great post. LOVES IT.

    • Ashley Drake says:

      I should probably read Rawls from a different lens now that I’m outta York. I totally agree about the left, although part of me (the optimistic side) believes we are experiencing the molecular change (oh so molecular) that Gramsci writes about. The other part of me thinks the right has grabbed hold of populism and is running with reckless abandon and that’s a tough act to follow; There’s a lot of myth to break through, and that takes a lot of time.

      I sing the praises of pants (Joe, and otherwise) and would probably be out pounding the pavement if I had that kinda charisma (and wasn’t so sensitive to doors being shut in my face) until then my conversations with undecided friends who have a genuine curiousity will have to do!*

      * I must confess though, MOST of the convos I’ve had have been with Ford lovers, and it’s been after a few glasses of wine…I’m only violent when provoked.

  3. shannon says:

    hey ashley,

    you’ve read my mind! this is something i’m grappling with, and can’t say i liked being in this position in the last federal election (the ‘do i vote strategically’ angle?). i didn’t, and wouldn’t, but not because i’m convinced it doesn’t ever make sense to vote for the ‘not ford’ candidate, but rather because i’m terrified of what voting starts to mean symbolically when we check a box for person A, knowing we actually think they wouldn’t do a better job than person B. it really is an unfair situation we’re in.

    another thing– what role has the media played in creating this ‘holy-crap-it-could-be-ford’ fever? was it perhaps even mildly tactical, in order to give the left-leaners a chance to chat with friends, coworkers, read enough op-ed’s to know how they ought to vote? HOW did his lead even happen?!

    anyway, i am really, really happy you’re writing on this issue, and i strongly encourage you to submit this piece to one of the big news outlets! your writing is wonderful, and the content so timely

    • Ashley Drake says:

      That’s really kind, shan thanks!

      We corner ours selves into a two-party/candidate system is what happens. which reminds me of a simpsons episode when the two candidates for some election are richard johnson or john richardson, essentially, more of the same status quo (this COULD have been an episode, or I could be making this up…I wasn’t allowed to watch the simpsons, so my memory is blurry)

      I blame the amalgamation of the GTA! Why do suburbs get to vote for the rest of us?

  4. dontdontoperate says:

    Don’t strategic vote.
    Think LONG term.
    Vote for the guy you want.
    Perhaps, if you and others actually vote for who they really want, although you may not win this year, the following years people may see how much better the candidate (or the ideas that person advocates) did the last time, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, your candidate (or that ideas they represent) can stand a fighting chance.
    However, Jules is right, the best way is to get others on board by spreading the message alllll over.

    • mikes says:

      let’s not forget the most sensible reason why it’s cool to say no to strategic voting and go with your gut. I don’t know how it works at the municipal level, but at least federally (maybe provincially too?) each vote won by a party means more moneys in funding for that party to bring to the table at the next go-round. and it’s not like one vote ever makes a difference anywho.

  5. dontdontoperate says:


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