Why the poor vote against themselves in Canada

What makes people vote against their own best interests? The Toronto Star’s Carol Goar has some answers. I’ll intersperse them with my own comments:

People in low-income neighbourhoods are the biggest victims of the drug dealers and violent young offenders Harper is promising to lock up. They want relief from the violence they can’t escape. They want to rid their communities of the gangs that lure their children into gun-and-gang culture. Crime crackdowns make sense to them.

In other words, these poor schmucks voted for a bunch of clowns who TALK “tough on crime”, but who want to take away from police the best weapon they have against the heavily-armed drug thugs — namely, the long-gun registry. And if you try to tell them what a stupid move THAT was, you’ll get the usual nyah-nyah about how “if guns are criminalized, we won’t be able to fight back”, or some such drivel. I’d ask them to google for news items showing a gun-toter foiling a robbery or drug deal in progress, but quite aside from those news items being nonexistent, these people probably don’t have access to the Internet OR the smarts to use it. It wasn’t part of their “back to basics” education that the Conservatives promised when they cut funding, y’know.

What Canadians struggling to make ends meet want most is a job; not government benefits, not abstract poverty-reduction plans, certainly not charity. Harper tapped into that yearning, promising to stabilize the economy and create employment. The New Democrats, aiming to beat him at his own game, said they would cut small business taxes.

Well, poor schmucks, the joke’s on you again. Harpo has nothing to do with stable economies, and he certainly doesn’t care about whether YOU find a job. But to know this, you’d need access to the Internet, and learn how to follow economic news a lot more closely. If you did, you might be embarrassed to learn what the Progressive Economics Forum has found:

In the first week of stability-inducing majority government, Canada’s economy experienced:

– A decline of almost 400 points over the week in the TSX composite, the worst weekly loss all year.

– A decline of almost 2 U.S. cents in the value of the loonie.

– Turmoil in commodity and futures markets, sparked in part by new U.K. rules limiting speculative positions in the silver market. The resulting downturn spread to other commodity prices (including oil) which had also been bid up by speculators.

– A miserable GDP report (issued the Friday before the election) showing that Canada’s real output was actually declining in February, casting doubt on the viability of the recovery.

– A jobs report issued this Friday that had a positive headline number (58,000 more Canadians working in April), but was gloomy in the details. 70 percent of those jobs were part-time, and almost two-thirds were in the public sector – many of them at Elections Canada working on an election that Mr. Harper said all along was “unnecessary” and economically damaging. In the goods-producing side of the economy, employment was falling (largely reflecting the impact of a sky-high loonie on manufacturing).

Is this what you voted for? No? Well, too bad — because that’s what the guy you voted for has given you in the past, and will continue to do in future. “Stability” and “jobs” — note the quotation marks. (You do know what quotation marks are, don’t you? If not, blame all the conservative cuts to your education system; I certainly do.)

It angers low-income voters to see secure middle-class bureaucrats getting pay hikes. Those trapped in entry-level service jobs seethe when public employees who earn far more than they ever will are rewarded simply for showing up. Those living on public assistance — employment insurance, welfare, old age security — dislike being treated with contempt by government officials. In both cases, cutting the public payroll has a lot of appeal.

And yet, these same schmucks are strangely silent when the big fat cats in charge — who make more than double what an average public sector employee does — vote themselves a big fat pay hike, and extra pension benefits, too. And some of them don’t show up on a regular basis either. If that’s not contempt of the poor schmucks who voted for THEM, I don’t know what it is. But hey, IOKIYAC, no?

Canadians fighting to stay afloat often have little regard for the anti-poverty organizers, professors and social planners who profess to speak for them. They don’t appreciate being lumped together and labelled. They don’t want political advice.

Well, ain’t that a pip. You try to help them, they spit in your eye. They think they’re smart enough to find their own way out? Sorry, but their zero-logic voting habits say otherwise. They couldn’t find their way out of the hole if you stuck big flashing neon arrows at the bottom, pointing up. If they “don’t want political advice”, then maybe they deserve the fleecing they get. I bet they don’t like to ask questions or consult roadmaps when driving, either…assuming they can still afford to drive.

Like most people, low-income voters mistrust politicians of all stripes. They don’t believe their promises and they don’t pay much attention to their rhetoric. Many don’t cast ballots. Those who do, opt for politicians who speak in plain language about issues that matter to them.

They don’t trust politicians, they don’t pay attention to what they say, they think politicians all lie…and then they trustingly vote for the biggest fucking liars of all, because those liars spouted the lies they wanted to hear. Anyone else sensing a HUGE contradiction here?

Okay, let’s go over these Conservative lies again:

Tough on crime, yadda yadda yadda. Meanwhile, they want to take away the gun registry that helps police fight crime. And the police aren’t impressed. What do Conservatives have against anticrime policing? And why are they so eager to help criminals like that Mountie-mass-murderer in Mayerthorpe go right on doing what they do?

We want jobs, yadda yadda yadda. But Harpo & Co. have not created jobs — at least none that will provide you sustainable and stable income. Why would you vote for the guy who is, in fact, the one most likely to keep you out of work, or underpaid and underemployed on the off chance that you do find any? Take it from one who’s been there since the first time around, namely the Great Mulroney Majority Recession — Conservatives can’t create jobs for shit. And for all they talk about fostering the right conditions for job creation, all they end up doing is giving the richest of the rich all the breaks. The little guy? Well, you’re not the one who kicked the money into their war chest, so of course they don’t give a shit for you. Even if you DID vote for them. Sucker.

Public sector bureaucrats make too much money, yadda yadda yadda. Well, then, maybe you’d like to stare into an empty wicket, inhabited only by spiders, the next time you’re trying to collect welfare or pogey benefits. Let me know how you make out when that happens, eh? Because the people who process your claims and bust their humps for you to get what you’re lawfully entitled to, are public sector employees. Or bureaucrats, as you like to call them. They are also the nurses who keep you from croaking when you show up in Emerg, and the teachers who saved your ungrateful ass (and those of your snot-nosed kids) from illiteracy. Downsize them out of their positions, and you’ll have a harder time getting what you only think is yours. You’ll also drive down your own wages as all those other job-seekers suddenly flood the already glutted labor market. But hey, why worry about that, right? It just sounds so good, all this cutback shit. And when you’re feeling vengeful, petty and spiteful, you don’t care that ultimately you’re cutting off your own nose.

Don’t tell US what to do, you condescending fucking do-gooders, yadda yadda yadda. All right, then, I won’t. All I’ll say from now on is I TOLD YOU SO. And SUCK IT UP. And YOU VOTED FOR THIS. And I’ll say it every time I hear one of you kvetching about the bastards you grabbed your ankles for. It’s simple language, and it ought to be clear enough for the simplest sheeple schmuck to understand.

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2 Responses to Why the poor vote against themselves in Canada

  1. rerewo says:

    I know. It’s very frustrating. Ticks me off too that they weren’t elected.

    If we had proportional representation, it would probably make a difference and the NDP would be more likely to win. Of course, the Tories and Liberals would adapt their platforms to be more competitive.

    Something that isn’t cited by Carol Goar as popping up, are serious studies and surveys of how low-income people (who are not a huge constituency) vote. Personally, my assumption would be for the NDP by a significant margin. In a tight race between a Tory and New Democrat among so-called regular-income voters, low-income voters could get the New Democrat over the hump — I would guess.

    Actually, my fear has always been that the NDP’s support will rise federally only with a worsening economy, under circumstances where low-income people become a huge nation-wide constituency. What happened in Quebec somewhat contradicts that fear and is encouraging.

    Just to digress a minute, I don’t believe Quebec has a New Democratic Party provincially. There is a social democratic party called Quebec solidaire, but they’re also a sovereigntist party, which probably alienates most Quebecers nowadays.

    The reason for sovereignty might make sense viscerally, but practically and locally, if sovereigntists are worried about assimilation, separating from Canada won’t help. Separating will only diminish Quebec’s role and presence globally and within its own borders, not enhance or strengthen it. Quebec’s language and culture has flourished for all these centuries in North America *not* despite being a part of Canada, but because it is a part of Canada.

    Anyhow, my assumption would be that the constituency the Conservatives count on are regular-income voters, among which we’ll find in surprisingly significant numbers, union members. My guess would be that union members get the Tories over the hump in tight races when low-income voters are in short supply.

    • Sabina Becker says:

      I wonder when Carol Goar will get around to asking union members who voted Tory to explain themselves. I’ve a feeling that will be never. The Star strikes me still as very much a big-L Liberal paper, even though this time its editorial board went against tradition and endorsed Jack Layton. (Doesn’t take a weatherman to tell you which way the wind’s blowing, etc.) I suspect that if she did ask, though, she’d find they did so for the same reasons. There’s a lot of middle-class resentment among unionists. And this is a problem they’re going to have to address amongst themselves; no one else can do it for them. Otherwise, they’re going to end up with a large bloc who also vote against their best interests, nullifying any good work the union has done — which would be a damn shame, because union gains have spilled over in the past to non-unionized workforces as well. I think that the benefits they helped win are a large part of the reason why we even have a middle class. Tommy Douglas would probably agree — his CCF specifically targeted the “farmer, soldier, laborer” contingent, and successfully appealed to their hunger for a better life. If Jack Layton is smart, he’ll hark back to those roots and build on them.

      What you say about the separatist element in Québec makes a lot of sense, and I suspect that alienation may have been what turned voters against the BQ there. As soon as Gilles Duceppe tossed in that sop to the separatist element at the end of the English-language debate, I did a facepalm, because I knew that he had just made a huge mistake, playing to the traditional base. When you have to rely on tradition to get votes, you know you’ve stagnated and run out of ideas. I think most of the people in Québec realize full well that there are greater benefits to living within Canada, even though the anglos are a huge pain in the ass. What would they stand to gain otherwise? Not much; maybe not anything. I suspect the real reason Charles De Gaulle said “Vive le Québec LIBRE” was not an abiding belief in freedom, but because he salivated at the prospect of reviving the French empire in North America. All that’s left of it are the little islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. And France’s own imperial ambitions were foundering all over North Africa at the time he said that, too. Isolation would do Québec no good, and isolation is all they’d get if they separated now. Relations with the “ROC” would not improve. Resentment would compound anglo snobbery no end. Especially in Alberta, which has a lot of yahoos making separatist noises of their own.

      I think you’re right about worsening economies turning voters to the left, and I think that’s going to come very shortly, at the rate the Tories are going. In Québec’s case, things have long been kind of stagnant, which may be a large part of why the separatist rhetoric no longer resonates. They’re not getting out, and they’re not getting further in, either. The BQ seems more content to consolidate its own power than to actually do much for its constituents, the Libs and Tories likewise, and under those circumstances, why not go NDP? At least they can do no worse. They’re willing to try something different, and that’s good. I think they have a real opportunity to lead the way for the rest of us, and I hope they use it well.

      I’m surprised, though, that nobody has picked up on the other ace in the deck: the immigrant vote. The Tories are wooing “ethnic” new Canadians, which is kind of a laugh since they’re the party of anglo exclusivity, historically speaking. But they know who’s a large and growing vote base, and they’re poaching on traditional Liberal turf there. Again, if the NDP are smart, they will home in on new Canadians and make immigrant rights and integration a major part of their platform. The extra effort would be well worth it. (I’m saying this as the daughter of German immigrants, myself.) I’m hopeful that they can do this, since Jack Layton and Olivia Chow represent a downtown Toronto riding that is well known for its diverse immigrant population, and they must surely be well aware of the problems new Canadians face. If it were left to the Tories, we’d see more of what we’re seeing already: a tightening of exclusion laws against “undesirable” types, eg. the Tamil migrants who were painted as terrorists in the media this past year.

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