I’d love to vote for him but he’s not going to win.
This was said, more than a few times, about Mayoral candidate David Soknacki after what was, apparently, a very strong debate performance (I didn’t see it) on Tuesday night.
It’s July. The election’s still more than 3 months away. This is what you would call a self-fulfilling prophecy.
More embarrassingly, I think of it as a very passive participation in the democratic process.
You have an incumbent. You have a former high profile city councillor and a federal M.P. until just recently. You have a frequent candidate for office, a former leader of a provincial party and a long time A.M. talk radio show host.
The fact that these 3 candidates sit atop every poll taken should hardly be a surprise to anyone. While not purely a recognition factor (if it was, the mayor would be sitting at 98%), these are all recognizable names to even the most casual of political observers of City Hall. Who would I vote for? Yeah. I’m going with the one there I’ve never, ever heard of.
“If a few of the people lamenting the fact that Soknacki can’t win started telling pollsters they intend to vote for him…” John McGrath suggested, post-debate.
Maybe if I just clap a little harder, for a little longer, the Soknacki campaign won’t die. Cross my fingers. Pray. Send it my mental best wishes.
A successful candidacy doesn’t simply materialize as if by magic or run the race fueled by good ideas and noble intentions. It takes work. Lots of it by lots of people over a long period of time.
I’ve written about this in terms of city council races but it’s equally true at the mayoral level.
By reputation or experience or a good network or access to a shitload of money (maybe all of them together), favourites for the mayor’s office quickly emerge in any race. They are granted or have gained a certain degree of institutional support. This gets them even more exposure, more air time and print space. People see them as serious contenders. So they then lend their support, money, time, resources.
It’s a closed, feedback loop that is very, very difficult to break into if you don’t gain access quickly. Soon, the ‘fringe’ label sticks and you get deemed unelectable. I love your ideas and your platform but, really, voting for you will just be throwing my ballot away.
But we’ve been down this road before, people. Democracy is about much more than voting. To sit and observe, and then stew about the choices you’re being given is unproductive and lazy. Agitate. Make noise beyond your Twitter bubble. Get a campaign going to harass broadcasters to include the candidate of your choice in the next debate it’s hosting.
Better yet. Organize your own mayoral debate. Find a free space somewhere in your neighbourhood. Print off a few flyers. Invite the candidates you want to see to come out and debate. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the turnout.
If that’s too grandiose, host a BBQ for 20 or 30 friends. Invite the candidate to come over and speak for a few minutes, introduce themselves. Then pass the hat around for some campaign donations.
It’s what makes municipal politics so accessible and user-friendly. You can have a direct impact on the outcome far and above just your one vote. (Two if you count mayor and your local councillor. Three, actually. Mayor, councillor, school board trustee.) But you have to get active.
It’s at this point in the post where I have to obligatorily write about how, back in 2003, David Miller was still polling in the single digits on Labour Day, less than two months before that election. It was just assumed to be a two-way race between John Tory and Barbara Hall.
During Tuesday’s debate, the fact was being bandied about that at this time in July of 2010, a no-name candidate, Naheed Nenshi, found himself sitting at about 2% in the polls for the Calgary’s mayor’s office. The very same Naheed Nenshi who got re-elected mayor last year with about 74% of the popular vote.
So can we stop with the tortured anguish of entrapment to pre-determined election outcomes already? Those leading the pack in the summer don’t always cross the finish line first in the fall. It’s anybody’s race still to win, and anybody’s to lose too.
You want to vote for David Soknacki as the next mayor of Toronto, and want him to be in a position to do so in order to vote for him? Chip in. Do something about it. Donate. Volunteer some of your time. Ditto Morgan Baskin. Ari Goldkind. Richard Underhill. Robb Johannes.
Election victories don’t emerge from best wishes and wishful thinking. Hard work, long hours and, frankly, something of an indomitable spirit are all that matter really. That, and a boatload of volunteers who are prepared to put some effort into the campaign beyond remarking and complaining from the sidelines about how all the good candidates don’t have a hope in hell of winning.
— chidingly submitted by Cityslikr