This past federal election cycle, I struggled with which party to vote for. At the time the election was called, I had been a card-carrying Conservative for 10 months. I had always thought of myself as being Liberal, but recent late night political discussions with friends over pints of beer had me concluding that I was less of the fiscally conservative Liberal I had always thought myself to be, and more of a socially liberal Conservative.
Then the election cycle started, and the more I started reading about what Harper and the Conservatives had in store, a.k.a their not-so-secret agenda, the less I was enthused about being a socially liberal Conservative. Yes, there were some aspects I still agreed with, reforming the age-old relic that is our Senate for example, but then the other issues started oozing out: abolishing the long-gun registry, and shoving an omnibus crime bill down our throats; a bill so costly to the Canadian taxpayer and so unnecessary that it gave the term "where's the beef?" a whole new basis for existence.
I was faced with some very serious introspection: Why had I been so up and ready to leave the Liberal camp? I had voted Liberal in every provincial and federal election since I had turned 18. As I tried to answer this question, I thought of all my friends and acquaintances that were staunch NDP supporters. Surely, none of them would have turned their back on their party as I did.
I have a friend who I went to CEGEP with who was an adamant NDP supporter during the election, often inciting her Facebook friends to rally the troops and vote NDP. I admired her conviction. (My all time favourite status update of hers, read something like "Voting for Ignatieff to stop Harper is like chewing off your arm to save your leg.")
Yet, even after it was clear to me that I was going to vote Liberal, I still did not have the same gusto as many of my NDP counterparts, the above-mentioned friend included. I knew I couldn't be alone in this boat, so I turned to the friends that I knew were going to vote Liberal. Why weren't they out there rallying the Liberal base, inciting people to vote for Ignatieff? After all, none of us questioned Mr. Ignatieff's competency. He was a brilliant man, aptly capable of running our country.
So, why were we deafly silent? The answer to this is somewhat multifaceted in nature, although the primary reason appears to be that there are a vast number of closeted Liberals, especially amongst my generation. It is hard for us to come out and say we do not have the optimistic idealism that is shared by the NDP, nor do we have the persistent zeal that is sustained amongst the Conservatives. The Liberals are more or less the "meh" party. Not so left and not so right, just nicely fit into the Goldilocks zone of political centrism.
But isn't that a good thing? In a political landscape that is increasingly seeing far pushes to the left and to the right, shouldn't more people be proud to come out and say they represent the middle? Well, now interim leader Bob Rae is trying to get the Canadian people out of the Liberal closet and do exactly that.
By instituting an American style primary voting system, the Liberals will be doing away with a structure that consistently picks party insiders, most of whom are out of touch with the Canadian people. Visibly, the last two leaders of the Liberal party, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, did not have the voter appeal that was needed. Sure, they were both inspiring academics that were very well published in their respective fields. Too bad the Liberals weren't trying to fast track a professor to tenure at a research-based university. They're trying to run a country. Replacing one professorial man with another isn't really going to shake things up.
There are obvious potential caveats to the open primary system, but right now, with a party backed up against a wall with no place else to go, there aren't really a multitude of options. I applaud Mr. Rae for having the bold initiative to think outside the proverbial box.
So, this is my coming out party. Much like Diana Ross in 1980, I'm coming out, I want the world to know, and I want to let it show. My name is Supriya Dwivedi and I am coming out of the Liberal closet. I can only hope you will do the same.
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