Monday, March 02, 2015

On full information

Michael Harris' latest is well worth a read in offering a guide to avoiding the worst consequences of election-year spin. But it's worth noting that his most important advice is only presented as an afterthought:
Final note on street-proofing your vote? Inform yourself. Look at what the people who want their power renewed have done with it so far, and at what those who seek power say they will do if they get it.

Above all, don’t cast your ballot out of fear.
While the warnings found earlier in Harris' piece may be helpful as examples of what candidates shouldn't do and what the public may want to avoid, any voter's election-year calculus should be based on one core question: which candidate and government will best represent the interests of one's self and one's fellow citizens?

The combination of horse-race talk, partisan spin and one-way messaging which we know all too well is then problematic precisely because it's designed to push voters down self-serving shortcuts in answering the core question. But by focusing more on avoiding the former than addressing the latter (as Harris seems to suggest as his order of priorities), voters may well leave themselves vulnerable to different forms of manipulation.

The inevitable end result of each elections is that somebody will be elected to represent each riding. While parties and candidates will have their own ideas as to how people should decide who that will be, it's the civic duty of each voter to decide what matters most, compare the parties' and candidates' positions, and cast a ballot accordingly. And shutting out the spin is only a small part of that process.

1 comment:

  1. If, as Shakespeare said, "no legacy is as rich as honesty," then Harper will leave the most impoverished legacy in Canadian history.