proximity of political paralysis

I ran into a friend of mine the other day. He was outside one of our grocery stores, campaigning for his seat in our legislature. He is the incumbent MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for the riding next door to the one I live in. [For our American friends, an MLA is like a State Representative, except we have a unicameral legislature, so an MLA has much more influence than a State Rep would. There are other differences as well, but that will have to suffice as an explanation.]

I first met my friend when I was selling real estate to support our work here in Victoria. Another friend referred him to me. One day I picked up my phone at the office and this voice said, “Is this Don the Baptist?” And when I answered “Yes”, the voice went on, “Well I am John the Socialist.” And indeed he is. We get along rather well, in spite of political differences. The story of that house sale is one of my best from real estate days, but we’ll let that go by the wayside, too. John told me the other day they are still in that house, happy with it, and planning to renovate the kitchen soon.

As I said, I ran into John while he was campaigning. We talked about a few things and noted our differences. I was talking to my daughter about it afterwards. I told her that if we lived just a few blocks further west, I’d have a real problem deciding who to vote for. That might come as a shock to those who know my political views – my friend is a member of a party that I think I could almost never vote for. They are through and through socialists, so wrong headed in my thinking that I think it is a complete disaster whenever they actually gain power (as they have a few times in our province)

Why would I be torn if I lived in the next door riding? Well, my friend is my friend for one thing, but more than that, he is a good man, a good dad, a good husband, and, as he said in our conversation, “We share the same values.” In many ways, that is true. His opponent, on the other hand, is the former mayor of my town. He moved over the line so he could run in the other riding. Prior to his political career, he owned a pub… an establishment that profits by exploiting the weaknesses of one’s fellow citizens. I don’t have a lot of respect for that line of work, or for that man, for that matter.

But let’s think of what my friend means by “We share the same values.” How is that so and what makes for the differences between us?

My friend John is a family man, he professes a kind of Christianity (he attends a United Church – a very liberal church in Canada), he is interested in helping people with their problems, he is an advocate for the common man, especially the little man who has no voice in the greater world. All of these things in a general way are things with which I agree, and in terms of looking at the ills of the world, we likely are going to generally see the same needs and be motivated to find solutions to the same kinds of problems.

John seems to think that similar values like that should motivate someone like me to vote for someone like him. I am not sure I could do that. We do look at the problems in a similar way, but we look at the solutions in a vastly different way. John is willing to allow the government to step in, provide programs as solutions, in short, as I see it, to smother individuality. While I have no great faith in the nobility of individuals, I do believe that individuals, rightly motivated, can generally solve most of the problems of life on their own, without government ‘help’. The role of government is to control the unruly and incentivise the productive. So my socialist friend and I diverge widely on our approach to solving the problems we both see and care about.

As I said, if I lived in his riding, I’d be torn… The alternatives are a socialist with a good character vs. an opportunistic exploiter of men who happens to represent a freeish-enterprise party (they aren’t completely as conservative as I would like, but they are all we’ve got in this province). I think in this case I would probably not vote or spoil my ballot. Some would decry that choice, but not voting or protest voting are votes just as much as a positive vote for one or the other candidate. I dearly would like them to put “none of the above” on the ballot, but I am afraid it would win most elections.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. I agree, Don. Different solutions.

  2. Rory says:

    What do you think the chances are that John’s party may get into power this election?

    • Hi buddy, initially I thought it was pretty low, but some of the polls are hinting at some movement for the NDP.

      However, polls, schmolls, I think there is no compelling reason to throw the Libs out. I doubt that our voters will do that. John is likely to win his riding, but he has a more well known opponent this time. We’ll see. Just 10 days to go.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3