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NDP Leader: A Vote I'm Happy Not Casting

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Democracy is the greatest sport on Earth. I feed on elections and leadership contests but I'm kind of glad I don't have a vote this Saturday in the NDP leadership convention. Since I don't have a vote I haven't spent as much time researching all the leaders as I could have, but I know enough about them to know I'd have a hard choice in front of me. Other than the ongoing robocall scandal, the NDP leadership battle has been a hot topic in the Canadian blogosphere lately and particularly in my favourite corner of it, amongst democratic reform bloggers.

"Curiosity Cat" overwhelmingly supports Nathan Cullen for reasons that make a lot of sense to me. He's in favour of electoral reform and actively wants to talk about the possibility of some kind of strategic coalition with the Liberals in the next election to ensure the majority of voter's voices are heard despite the biased and unfair nature of our horrible voting system. Chrystal Ocean who blogs at "Challenging the Commonplace" has similar concerns.

"Counterweights" agrees, but sagely cautions that it probably isn't going to happen and that Thomas Mulcair really has some advantages in having a better chance of holding the Quebec/B.C. alliance that is the "Orange Crush" NDP together.

Wilf Day, another great DemReform blogger, points out this site for New Democrats for Fair Voting, which lists the candidate's stands on electoral reform. LeadNow, which was responsible for some of that inrush of new, reform-minded NDP voters has its own list comparing the candidates on their commitment to electoral reform.

Old party insiders support Brian Topp or Peggy Nash, but they're not all bad either. Many people who see a chance for real change have rushed in to the party to support Nathan Cullen but know nothing and care nothing about the party's history. So predicting their second choices is hard. Meanwhile the party's traditional base and most of its MPs support Mulcair. His supporters were so confident he should be anointed leader they started campaigning perhaps a bit too quickly last fall.

With NDP support at record levels and Conservative support dropping, maybe the best approach for the NDP is to go with attack-dog Mulcair. Maybe they can get rid of the Liberals altogether and win the next election on their own without any compromise.

Good for the NDP, but is the best thing for a country to have a leader unwilling to reform the flawed voting system that has put us in this predicament? Is it oversimplifying the electorate to think we can ever go back to two main parties swinging at each other, no matter who the leaders are? Can the NDP really speak for all the Liberals out there? More importantly, could they ever convince Liberal voters to vote for the NDP rather than the Conservatives?

And what about Quebec? If Mulcair doesn't win the pundit class tell us that Quebec will go back to the Bloc and we'll worse off than we were before? Is that even true?

And how do all these calculations change if Bob Rae doesn't step down as planned?

All I know is, I'm kind of glad I'm not voting in this one.