Tuesday, November 13, 2007

One Member (One Vote) to Rule Us All?

I thought I would take a step back and ask the CH community what the deal is with "One Member, One Vote"? Now, obviously I understand the concept - what I don't understand is the Conservative/conservative obsession with it.

I think OMOV is stupid.

Let me articulate that statement by listing the arguments I hear over and over again from those who would like to see the way Conservative conventions are currently run stay the way that they are.


While it may be true to say that OMOV is the most directly democratic, its not true to say that a delegated system is not democratic. That's like saying the way we elect MPs or MPPs is undemocratic. Like general elections (or the Electoral College in the US), in a delegated system you elected delegates to vote on your behalf. That way, you are able to have your voice heard.

The delegated system is merely an amplified version of the boring and lifeless OMOV. If riding X wants Candidate A or Resolution B passed, they will send delegates who reflect such a choice. If 54% of the delegates support a candidate/idea, that's the same as 54% of members from that riding traipsing down to the Convention to vote.


What's a fair system? Not OMOV. I don't think its particularly fair that you have to attend the Convention to have your voice heard. In some instances, especially with national parties, the cost can reach upwards of $1,000. How is that fair? Seems elitist to me.

But what about those backroom deals? Delegate spots being given to Party elites? Who's elitist now, B-Double? Fair enough - and I have seen that happen from time to time. But I have always been of the belief that its your own fault if you let someone from outside the riding - with no history or particular interest in local affairs, save the results of the convention - come in and take over the riding. You have only yourself to blame.

There is NO WAY I would be able to saunter into some riding in Northern Ontario and grab a delegate spot. I'd get smoked. But if that is happening in your riding, what more of a motivation to get off your behind, start making some calls, send out some letters and rally the troops. Create a network. In short, organize and kick the bastards out.

Oh, but you say that if there is a Leadership Convention and there are multiple ballots, you could be disenfranchised? Not if you elect the right delegates. This makes it harder for a candidate to pull a Tony Clement at the last minute, with chaos ensuing afterwards. Local riding members would elect delegates who clearly outline their choice on the second/third/fourth ballot


Well, that may be what OMOVites are selling, but no one's buying. Are Party memberships up? Nope. Are more people getting involved in politics? Nope. What OMOV completely eliminates is what drives many to politics in the first place - the chance to be involved in something exciting.

Now, excuse me for painting with a wide brush, but the majority of OMOV advocates seem to be policy wonks and party hacks. Yeah, I said it. There are people who get jazzed about writing new amendments to the Party constitution. They represent, what, 1.5% of the population? Most people like the electricity of an event like an election and to be a part of something. OMOV is about as exciting as actually voting: as in going behind a booth and filling in a box with a pencil.

The OMOV system has to go. Its great that a Facebook group has been created and populated by former Queen's Park staffers and Party officials, but these are the 1.5-ers. They are the super committed hacks who will attend every convention, rain or shine, regardless of location.

Now that I've addressed the basic arguments for OMOV, here are my top 5 reasons I think we need to go back to a delegated system. Most of which are centred around making politics more appealing to a wider range of people:
  1. Its WAY more exciting - more media hits, greater effect on new members
  2. Its cheaper for members and for the Party
  3. It discourages laziness/encourages activism from Party members
  4. Can be an excellent training ground for upcoming elections
  5. Gives power back to members through their delegates (nothing like voting in a block)

Disagree? Bring it.

Four words to summarize why delegated conventions are bad: Joe, Clark, Stephane and Dion. Delegated conventions attract too many youth delegates, who have the time and desire to get drunk. Regular folks just want to vote for the best guy/gal and do something else with their lives.
So, its about making sure people who don't have money (like students) can't go to the convention? Sounds like "regular" is all a matter of opinion for you, hector.

Oh, and as for your examples, Joe Clark was not elected at a delegated convention - at least the second time around.

And if you mean the first time, that's not much of an argument. Brian Mulroney was also elected in a delegated convention and won two majority governments. Ernie Eves in Ontario was elected my OMOV and got his ass handed to him, as did John Tory.

Also in Ontario, Dalton McGuinty was elected via a delgated process and he just won two majority governments.
"What's a fair system? Not OMOV. I don't think its particularly fair that you have to attend the Convention to have your voice heard. In some instances, especially with national parties, the cost can reach upwards of $1,000. How is that fair? Seems elitist to me."

I think you are confusing the systems... OMOV you don't have to pay to go to a convention to have your voice heard, just pay the membership fee and you get to vote. It is much cheaper. I don't think I would have joined and started going to conventions if I had to win a delagate spot just to vote for my preferred leadership candidate. I joined just before the 2004 leadership vote and was able to vote for just $10 cost. There is no way I would have became a delegate that year with no prior involvement, and likely I would have quit after the DSM.
I believe that OMOV should only be used if the cutoff date for membership was Dec 31st, the year PRIOR to the membershp election being held.

I hate these "insta-members" who then have to be purged off the lists after their candidate fails to make the grade.

If I am going to be a member, that membership should have some privledge. At the very least, the ability to choose my leader.

The CPC does use a delegate system, however, the delegates vote by OMOV.

The old PCs did not use a OMOV system and their voting system featured things like automatic delegate status for the elites of the party AND gave their votes more weight. For example, I believe the votes of former candidates and MPs counted as 6 votes.
Anon - my point is that if you live in Moncton and the convention is in Calgary, it will cost a fair amount to go to the convention to vote. Now, if they have riding voting which I guess many do, that's different. Fair point.

Q - most don't, so the system sucks.

Cool - I agree. That sucks too.
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