Democratic "accidents"

Political science professors, take note: you will need to revise your course materials to reflect a new and eloquent theory.

I refer to comments made yesterday by Gordon Campbell, leader of the Liberal Party in British Columbia, currently in the middle of an election campaign. The Liberals have slipped a bit in the polls. The NDP are within five percent and the election is only a week away. According to an article in the Globe and Mail:

In Richmond yesterday, Mr. Campbell warned a business audience that they need to get out and vote on May 17, saying it will be the most important business decision they can make for the next decade.

“In democracies, accidents happen,” he said.

I love that line! If the NDP get elected in BC, it will constitute an accident of democracy!

This probably accounts for George Bush’s re-election — and Paul Martin’s election, for that matter. Heck, it explains so much that used to baffle me!

This is my new theory of how democracies work — accidents happen. Political science professors, you can still revise that curriculum in time for the Fall session.


3 thoughts on “Democratic "accidents"

  1. I realise that you are being tung in cheek. However, I thought it would be interesting to analyse Campbell’s thinking.
    I would like to have been party to Campbells speech. I will have to look it up. If I am reading this right, when voter turn out is low and thus the election is decide by those that really care, the result is illegitimate and an “Accident” ?
    Polls are often from representative samples this is similar, however the sample is biassed, but that bias is towards those that care. In my opinion if we don’t care then it’s apathy not accident.
    Therefore the will of the people or lack of it, is still expressed in the vote.

  2. I don’t suppose Campbell would use the word “illegitimate”. Otherwise, you’ve interpreted his comment the same way I did.

    According to the news article, NDP Leader Carole James had a strong showing in the TV debate, while Campbell appeared to be on the defensive. So she outperformed or outstrategized him, at least on that occasion.

    A losing candidate can only say, “the people have spoken”. He can’t say, “the people really wanted me to win, they only elected my opponent by accident”!

  3. That’s great: if for some reason (including voter apathy) the ‘other’ party gets elected, that’s an “accident”! I love it! The only votes that count are the ones that are cast, peoples…

    If there’s one thing that manifestly doesn’t happen in democracies, it’s “accidents”. Every vote result tells us something about the “will of the people”, (or lack of it).

    You can smash up your car accidentally; you can drop that plug-ugly wedding gift accidentally; you can even get pregnant accidentally, but you can’t vote (or not vote) “accidentally”.


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