I’m sad because usually, an election is an exciting time! Elections are basically the dating game for people who don’t want to have to dick around with online profiles, grocery shop introductions, and nightclub hookups. It’s like trying to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, if the rest of your life can be measured in four-year-stints. And trust me, sometimes a four-year-stint feels like the rest of your life.
It’s a weird dating game, though, because the way it’s *supposed* to work is that your parents/guardians get to see the list of potential dates, and they weed out the ones they deem undesirable – no snaggletoothed rednecks for my boy, Mother. Maybe it’s because even though EVERYBODY KNEW there would be an election this spring (that’s what happens when you mandate an election period), it’s like the New Democrats in Saskatchewan were all sitting around in the garage, making glitter glue posters and talking about how cool it would be when they were all in bigger offices, when they ought to have been screening their dates.
But that’s not the worst part (and believe you me, I ABSOLUTELY vote for whoever’s campaign poster has the most glitter). The worst part is that the Saskatchewan Party’s election platform, in its entirety, seems to be “OMGOMG YOU GUYS ARE SO DUMB! YOUR DATING OPTIONS ARE, LIKE, TOTAL FREAKS”.
Last week, the NDP dropped four candidates from its roster because of the stupid things they’d said on social media. Let us all take a moment to reflect on all of the stupid shit we’ve said, in our entire lives, ever, since the beginning of time. You there in the back, I happen to know FOR A FACT that you’ve said stupid shit, so you’d better be reflecting.
Right. All done? Now I want you to pretend you’re a teenager (if you are a teenager, this part should be easy) or a twenty-something (if you are a twenty-something, pretend you’re still a teenager; this part might be easier). I know the reason you use SnapChat is because you think those posts completely disappear after 24 hours. You’re wrong, but it’s cute you think that. If you’d read the Terms of Service, which I know you didn’t do, you’d see that you granted them license to use anything you post through their service for a number of things. That means your content has not disappeared. None of the content you post on the Internet disappears.
None of it. Not ever.
Someone, somewhere has a cache of everything ever posted on the net.
I have a growing sense of unease with the idea that if you ever even think you might want to run for public office, you have to start censoring yourself basically at birth because #Glob forbid you should say something insulting, stupid, or something that challenges social norms, manners, or taboos. Defend yourself at the VERY least. “Sure, I said something that sounded racist, but if you look at the actual context of what I said, you’ll see I was actually lampooning actual racists.”
So there are two problems with the Saskatchewan Party’s campaign plaform: 1) this whole “neener neener you’re running weirdos” isn’t actually telling me anything about what the Sask Party is going to do with my province for the next four years if they win; and 2) The Saskatchewan Party has spent the last EIGHT YEARS blaming the NDP for everything that’s gone wrong in the province with one exception.
That is the one exception where the Sask Party admitted that maybe they’d done something wrong (they hadn’t) when they legalized serving alcohol during strip routines. EVERYTHING ELSE that hasn’t gone swimmingly is the NDP’s fault. Why are seniors being abused in health care facilities? That’s the NDP’s fault. Why has there been no increase in educational funding for primary and secondary education (and in fact why is funding being cut)? Because NDP, that’s why.
I had so much more hope for the Sask Party. So much more. Although I’m a pretty hardcore socialist, I haven’t voted NDP since Drain Lingenfelcher roont the party (that right there is why I will never run for political office, my peeps). I don’t remember who I voted for in the last two elections; it might have been the Sask Party at one point. And while the Sask Party *has* made monumentally stupid decisions (axing the film tax credit which was actually a revenue generator for the province; rescinding legislation about drinking and stripping; selling off perfectly good crown properties to money-losing operations; putting all the budget eggs in the non-renewable resources basket…I could go on), I’ve liked some of what they’ve done. Granted, they had it pretty easy – they came in to power when people were starting to move back because oil and potash revenues were skyrocketing. Now that things are tougher, the BEST they can do to campaign is to point fingers at NDP candidates’ Twitter streams and Facebook pages?
The NDP isn’t blameless here; they should’ve screened their candidates, you know, at all. The NDP hasn’t done well to rebuild its party since ol’ Drain busted it up. In fact, I’d say they’ve monumentally failed. The NDP isn’t talking very loudly about instituting a living wage; about providing free housing for the homeless; about how they’re going to repair and enhance the primary and secondary education system given that their party centralized it and underfunded schools (less than the Sask Party has, but still, they did it) and hospitals. They haven’t talked about how they’re going to fix the rotten health care system that’s circling the drain in this province. They haven’t talked about how they’re going to husband our natural resources and increase taxes on them to generate more revenue for the province from corporations who SHOULD pay more. They haven’t talked about how they’re going to continue to support, and how they’ll increase support, for arts and culture. They haven’t really talked about much other than how they’re going to reinstate the film tax credit (which would be awesome) and then do some hand-wavey stuff with Creative Saskatchewan.
So as far as the dating game goes, BOTH of these parties are complete duds right now. The Sask Party *should* be campaigning on their strengths (“the province’s economy grew by X during the time we formed government” [had very little to do with the Sask Party and more to do with commodity prices, but so what? Campaigns aren’t for telling the truth, are they?]; “the province ITSELF grew by Y during the time we formed government” [again, population was increasing because of better and more jobs due to resource revenue but whatevs]; “we increased the personal income tax exemption” [you get where I’m going with this]). Talk about what you DID; don’t talk about what the other guy did EIGHT YEARS AGO, or, worse, what people who’ve never actually been elected before have said on social media. ESPECIALLY when there’s actual VIDEO of some stupid shit the leader of your party did in the 80s.
If I were the Lieutenant Governor, I’d shake my head and shrug and write a letter to whoever the LG writes letters to and ask for better parties. And no, I don’t think the Green party is a viable option; they won’t be until they have more seats (like, any). If people in the province can forgive the Liberal party for how badly they’ve screwed us in the past 100 years (we can’t), we might elect a Liberal in this election, but there isn’t a snowflake’s chance in hell that they’ll form government. And if anyone from the former Progressive Conservative party has managed to avoid prison time, I don’t see them running, so that’s not even a starter.
So we’re down to two truly awful choices: the NDP, whose party is limping along trying to steal votes away from the right (guys. You can’t do that. You are not a right wing party. Fundamentally, those people will NEVER vote for you. Just stop trying; it’s kind of sad. It’s like hoping that the captain of the football team is going to ask you to prom when he’s already asked the middle linebacker); or the Saskatchewan Party, who can’t seem to toot their own horn, which, frankly, is mystifying (this is the captain of the football team *unable* to get a date for prom because he keeps beaking off about how ugly everyone else is).
Sigh. Honestly. This election is like watching a train wreck. Except it’s one of those plastic kids’ wagons and it’s not so much wrecking as it is just kind of slowly tipping over, and all the people (who are much too big to be riding in it ANYWAY) just sort of flop out and crawl away through the mud.
[Go here to the Elections Saskatchewan page to find out where and when to cast your ballot. Just because there are no really good choices for leadership in the province doesn’t mean you shouldn’t voice your opinion.]
Also published on Medium.