First past the post

Yesterday I was at a full-day karate intensive. After hours of exercises, the day ended with the class being split into three groups. We were told to learn the names in our group. Then we were informed we were going to have a relay race of sprints, army crawls, and crab-walks.

We were told to cheer our teammates on by name. Such is the power of groups and group competition (including the fear of letting your group down) that everyone involved threw themselves completely into this relay. Myself included. All my bruises from that day came from the race.

I mention this short story because I was impressed by the deft application of group psychology. How else could you ask a room of exhausted people to dig in deep and give everything they had left to give?

I also mention this because today is Canada’s federal election and polls and as I write this, the polls are still open. The power of party politics and partisanship is an overwhelming force. But it can also be manipulative. Like the relay race, it’s worth noticing that our politics are designed to be this way.

I haven’t written much about this election because frankly, I’m mad at all the parties. I’m mad at the Liberals for breaking their promise to end ‘first past the post’ and I’m mad at the NDP and Greens who refused to consider ranked ballots as a step towards electoral reform.

It’s very telling that politics is frequently framed as ‘a race.’