VICTORIA — Voters in British Columbia go to the polls on Oct. 24. Here’s some of what you need to know about B.C. politics:
— The NDP formed a minority government in 2017 with support from the Green party after finishing on election night with two fewer seats than the B.C. Liberals, while the Greens had an election breakthrough, winning three seats and holding the balance of power.
— The last time B.C. had a minority government before that was in 1952 and the NDP’s rise to power in 2017 ended a 16-year span outside government.
— The B.C. Liberals were in power from 2001 to 2017.
— Andrew Wilkinson became leader of the Liberal party in February 2018, replacing Christy Clark.
— John Horgan was acclaimed NDP leader in 2014 and first won a seat in the legislature in 2005.
— Sonia Furstenau has been on the job for about a week, being elected to lead the Greens on Sept. 14.
— This election has 87 seats up for grabs. At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats. The Greens held two seats, there were two Independents and one seat was vacant.
— The Liberal Party of British Columbia is not affiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada and describes itself as “a made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition.”
— The NDP was in power from 1991 to 2001 with four different party leaders during its time in office.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.
Politics Podcast: Why Biden’s Lead Is Different – FiveThirtyEight
According to our forecast, Democrats have a 72 percent chance of winning a trifecta — that is, controlling the presidency, the House and the Senate. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses what policies the party would prioritize in such a scenario and what divisions might emerge. They also compare Joe Biden’s position now with Hillary Clinton’s in 2016 and explain what’s similar (and what’s different) about their circumstances.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
Column: PART TWO — Politics: a meditation – Rossland Telegraph
The West, the Rest, the Best?
Other cultural paths have their democratic elements no doubt, but it is the West that has come to lay the foundation of a global economy, and of a global order in the UN and World Court. This world is a community where the lingering effects of the great age of Euro-American imperial, colonial, capitalist domination are still potent.
One must also take serious note of the push-back from non-Western traditions which defy any claim that the West has political and socio-economic models for all nations, that the West somehow has universally-valid principles of government. Xi Jinpeng of China, the Saudi king, the Iranian supreme ayatollah, and the military junta ruling Myanmar, among others, all reject our democratic norms. For these potentates, our way isn’t a norm for humanity; it’s simply our way.
This very condensed version of the history of our democracy is only meant to bring us back to my hypothesis about politicians and the demos : why are politics in the democratic states of the world so uninspired, ineffective, and – in my opinion – in danger of losing the allegiance of the governed and the respect government needs?
The Character Issue
If one were to ask why politics is not respected by citizens in nations like Canada, it is likely one would hear a great deal about the character, or lack thereof, of present politicians. Politicians are held in low regard. Their willingness to be genuine is rated low, their honesty suspected, their consistency for matching word to action not believed: in short, citizens and voters assert that if the character and quality of politicians were elevated, or deepened, or reinvigorated, then we might rethink our low opinion of politics. But we will not invest our passions or energies in politics until we see an end of base traits like self-interest, cynicism, greed, and egotistical ambitions. It is not our fault politicians are so dismal… is it? What is the basic responsibility of the electorate for the low quality of the people who hold office?
One begins by asking if voters in democracies are nurtured, acculturated, educated and “engineered” for their civic duties.
Keeping informed about politics would seem to be more effortless than ever in this age of 24/7 news cycles and infinite access to media reporting on government activity. Yet there is scant evidence that the opportunity for better-informed and more-engaged citizenship has produced high rates of participation by constituents who truly understand, and are educated about, issues touching on their democratic government. Voter participation, in my opinion, ought never be less than 80%, yet such a high rate is not the norm. Only in crucial referendums does the voter turnout astound one by its size: witness the participation in Quebec’s poll on sovereignty in 1995; the Scots turned out in fine numbers for their ballot for parliamentary autonomy (“devolution”) also.
I hypothesize an intimate connection between the quality of our elected “public servants” in political office and the quality of their constituents’ characters and consciousness — or what I might, in the terms of the Tao Te Ching, call the habits of “the people.” The Tao posits that the wise few who want to guide the people – not the lords and princes, but the sages – rule by being virtually invisible. The People never know that a leader makes things happen, but believe good things “happen of themselves, by our own acts.” The wise, benevolent soul leads without acting. The people should have full bellies and empty minds, and “clever” ones who want to innovate and break tradition and dominate should be rendered powerless – so says this ancient classic of Chinese political principles and mystic spiritual guidance.
I would reverse the idea that the sage inspirits the people to live in harmony with Tao, and postulate that the people are the root influence determining the kind of politicians/ gentlemen who govern over, legislate for, and lead them. Base politicians with weak character, small merit, little ability, inadequate education, feeble cultural assets, exercising authority over us in a democracy, are ultimately defective because they reflect us. We lack what we want them to model. They are not better than we.
We have yet to be worthy of better democracy, we have yet to create the nurture and culture of a people and a society who truly govern themselves individually and collectively. The true origin of good government surely is within the individual citizen, the person, consciousness, spirit, and will.
Who wants to be a politician?
Fortunately, Canada is not ruled by a pack of incompetent villains, manifestly grabbing power for the sake of their ego or greed. We are not terribly ill-served by the people we choose because, as I see it, Canadians are reasonably intelligent at discerning the worst among those who seek elected office. Good people, not merely ambitious incompetents, want to serve as politicians.
There is one factor in play in Western democracies that has proven so far to have quite positive effects, unforeseen perhaps but most certainly intended by government policies and reforms. I refer to women’s emancipation. One half of humanity for all of recorded history had been unjustifiably disempowered by patriarchal culture. Women were wasted, their talent untapped, stifled by cultural blindness and antipathy to the female, not to say misogyny, for millennia.
Politics in democracies are at last liberating women. Some women who have risen in the West, such as Merkel, Ardern, E. May, Bruntland, M. Robinson, or R. B. Ginsberg, are evidence that so far we are fortunate to be at last accessing the political genius of the female. I would be dishonest if I said I believe the quality of female politicians will sustain such high levels as we tap more and more women to serve in politics. I expect there are as many mediocre female politicians as male, but to this point, I see fewer…
I have been pleasantly surprised by the high quality of people like Jagmeet Singh, Chrystia Freeland, and Patty Hajdu, in the Canadian pandemic, for their clear compassion and the intelligence they appear to be applying to the health issue and its ensuing economic and social crises. I groan when a Horgan, a Higgs, or a Moe abuse their polling popularity during the unusual situation to call snap provincial elections, but I do not succumb to any broader cynicism.
Trudeau is a better character to have as our P.M. now than Harper would have been, I feel quite sure. Spending generously would not have been Harper’s instinct; from all I see, the crisis in our personal finances necessitates Trudeau’s policies. Another poor example of a leader, again in my opinion, is Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta; he is not what Albertans need, but he likely does reflect their public mind.
It’s coming to America first,
the cradle of the best and of the worst.
It’s here they got the range
and the machinery for change
and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst. — Leonard Cohen, Democracy is Coming
Yes, always there will be some people who deceive us, who get elected with motives more selfish than altruistic; we must expect that in our present social order in a market capitalist economy and individualist ethical landscape. But we have institutions that can detect and correct abuses if we will do the work to operate them, in legal or political or educational paths of reform. We the people can make a difference; we have some basic merits for the work, and we can find the will to do it.
Our neighbour to the south is the negative example of a people sadly degenerated from the standards of political and civic behaviours they once knew and that democracy demands. Canadian political culture, as with western and northern European culture, is still a firm enough foundation to keep us from the muck and mire Americans now suffer. The Atlantic magazine recently published a long piece about the USA, calling Americans’ present desperate politics a sign of“national cognitive decline.”
I understand the significance of that phrase. The US has deteriorated culturally so that the public mind is incapable of higher standards of political conduct. It isn’t irreversible, but it is definitely not to be cured by one election and one change of president. The Americans are getting the president they deserved.
The “leader of the free world,” as CBC calls the US president, has “his finger on the button” of nuclear war, and the day I wrote this I learned he had contracted Covid 19. Democracy is at a very strange crossroads indeed. So much can be altered in a few months. I am reminded by this that a leader and the times in which the leader holds power are also of paramount importance. A gifted person born to the wrong circumstances will not have the opportunity to display their political gifts, and a leader with cognitive disabilities can be the reason politics falls into decline. But, as I have said before in this column, I consider the president a symptom of America’s diseased body politic, not the cause. He is an effect; the culture is the origin.
But let me not leave readers with the conclusion that I am anti-American in my prejudices. I take refuge in Leonard Cohen’s lyric
I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.
And I’m neither left or right
I’m just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
End of Part Two
Why Things Are Different This Time – The New York Times
By all the measures that political strategists, pundits and operatives use to forecast elections, Mr. Biden should be heading toward victory on election night.
And yet, there’s that nagging feeling. That still, small voice that whispers: But 2016 …
Enough already. Say it with me, friends: 2020 is not 2016.
For four years, many Democrats and Republicans have assumed that President Trump has near-mythical political powers, able to rally hidden supporters who defy measurement in polling.
But as I wrote in today’s paper, the reality is that the 2016 election was a matchup between two of the most disliked and polarizing presidential candidates in American history.
Mr. Trump’s inflammatory and divisive rhetoric fueled much of that dynamic. But the particulars of that race also stemmed from how voters saw Hillary Clinton, a candidate who was already tarred by decades of Republican attacks and was also grappling with the sexism that would inevitably face the first woman with a serious shot at the White House.
Mr. Trump pulled off an upset against Mrs. Clinton, but again: 2020 is not 2016.
Take the accounts of focus groups from both elections told to me by strategists from the Clinton and Biden campaigns.
In the Clinton groups four years ago, voters agonized over their views of the candidate. They struggled with Mrs. Clinton’s ambition, finding her willingness to set aside her goals to serve in President Barack Obama’s administration more appealing than her own policy accomplishments as a senator and secretary of state.
Winning over female voters entailed walking a tortured path, the Clinton aides told me. Younger women condemned her decision to remain married to her husband after his marital infidelities became painfully public. Older women said that they couldn’t relate to Mrs. Clinton because they didn’t believe in their own ability to break barriers.
She had to be extraordinarily experienced, voters said, but also relatable. Highly qualified but not too ambitious, even as she pursued the biggest job in American public life.
As for Mr. Biden? Well, voters see him as a “decent guy,” said Steve Schale, a veteran Democratic operative who ran focus groups on Mr. Biden after the primary campaign this year. They don’t know a lot about his accomplishments — like his work shepherding the 2009 stimulus bill — but they think he’s “nice” and a good family man.
This difference shows up in the polling: By the time she ran for president in 2016, more than half the electorate had a unfavorable view of Mrs. Clinton, and her “very unfavorable” ratings were 10 to 15 percentage points higher than Mr. Biden’s this year, according to Democratic polling and public surveys.
Only about a third of voters saw either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton as “honest and trustworthy” in 2016, according to Gallup — but 52 percent of voters saw Mr. Biden that way last month, as opposed to 40 percent for Mr. Trump. Mr. Biden is also doing better than Mrs. Clinton in polling among groups that made up key parts of Mr. Trump’s coalition four years ago — white voters without a college degree, older voters and suburban white women.
So do these differences mean that Mr. Biden will win the election? Not necessarily!
Election models are based off results from previous “normal” elections. Correctly modeling deep electoral uncertainty — extraordinary events like a ranging pandemic, widespread voting by mail and record-shattering early voting — is really, really hard.
I suppose I can offer one tiny reassurance about the polls: If all the forecasts are wrong again, it won’t be for the same reasons.
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Dispatch from Pennsylvania: Will a swing county tilt back to the Democrats?
NAZARETH, Pa. — Lorin Bradley is a registered Republican who voted for President Trump in 2016 mostly because he didn’t like Hillary Clinton. But he has already voted for Joe Biden this year.
Mr. Bradley, 56, said he regretted his decision to vote for Mr. Trump shortly after the last election, and had been dismayed by Mr. Trump’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think he should have taken it more seriously,” said Mr. Bradley, a human resources manager at a pharmaceutical company. “That’s just another example of his many lies. He should have not downplayed it as if it was just another bout of the flu.”
Mr. Bradley predicted that the surrounding Northampton County in eastern Pennsylvania, one of only three counties in the state to vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 after backing President Barack Obama in 2012, would swing back to the Democrats this time because voters were “tired” of Mr. Trump. “He’s worn people out,” he said.
But Bill Schwab, a retired beer wholesaler and a registered independent, said he would vote for Mr. Trump again because he liked the president’s tax policies, and he was worried that a Biden administration would be too liberal.
“I’m afraid of the other side, what they’re going to do once they get in, as far as taxes and that type of stuff, and just the way they want to give away the farm,” Mr. Schwab, 65, said in an interview outside the post office in Northampton County.
Mr. Schwab said he was not happy with the president’s management of the pandemic, although that would not affect his voting decision. “It’s a pandemic, he shouldn’t have acted like it was going to go away,” he said.
In a county that Mr. Trump won by less than four percentage points in 2016, voters on both sides predict this year’s result will be close. But Democrats’ hopes were buoyed on Oct. 6 by a Monmouth University poll showing Mr. Biden leading by 53 percent to 42 percent in the 10 Pennsylvania counties — including Northampton — that were the most closely decided four years ago, when Mr. Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania as a whole.
Janice McGrogan, a Democrat who said she and her husband had already voted by mail for Mr. Biden, thought Mr. Trump would again win the county, which she said was dominated by Republicans who harassed Biden voters.
Wearing a Biden-Harris face mask outside a supermarket, Ms. McGrogan said she had been warned by a health worker not to wear the mask when she took her husband to a hospital appointment. “She said if you want your husband to have good medical care, do not wear this mask in the doctor’s office,” said Ms. McGrogan, 63, who worked in the county prison until she retired.
Deb Hayes, 64, a retired schoolteacher who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, said she would like to vote for him again because she opposes abortion. But she is concerned about the way he has behaved as president, and said she was undecided.
“I don’t like his leadership,” Ms. Hayes said. “So many times, I’ve kind of thrown up my hands and thought: ‘What is he thinking?’”
This item was part of a series of short Battleground Dispatches our reporters have been filing from swing states, offering an in-person snapshot of what it’s like to be on the ground in New Hampshire, Arizona and elsewhere. You can read all of the dispatches here.
The existential dread of a global pandemic is pervasive. … But every day, there is also Thelonious, a chipmunk who sits down to eat in a world without a doomful election and a deadly virus.
Can chipmunk restaurants save us all? Bon Appétit explores.
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