Coming in first at the polls not everything

It’s not just about winning. At least not in the commonly accepted meaning of the term.

It’s not just about winning.

At least not in the commonly accepted meaning of the term.

We’ve heard voters wonder why people put themselves up as candidates in elections that they know they are not going to take at the ballot box.

Sometimes these folks run as independents. Sometimes, like Alastair Haythornthwaite who has thrown his hat into the ring in the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding, they represent parties outside of the big four. Haythornthwaite is running for the Marxist-Leninist Party and, intellectually, we all know the Marxist-Leninists are not going to be sweeping to victory and taking up the reins of the Canadian government on Oct. 19.

But that doesn’t mean that Haythornthwaite and others shouldn’t try.

Because that’s what a healthy democracy is all about.

It’s about a free exchange of ideas, and the idea that anyone has a chance to be in government.

When we limit those we accept as in the running, whether formally or just in our own heads, we diminish democracy.

Without a myriad of voices democracy withers into an anaemic mockery of limited choices.

And then of course there’s the fact that everybody has to start somewhere.

Fifteen years ago in many parts of Nova Scotia the NDP was a fringe party. They’d just pick someone who was willing to put their name up in a riding to get pummelled by the Liberals and Conservatives.

Over the last decade we’ve watched the continuing rise of the Green Party from fringe player to having elected members in the House of Commons — and they’d have more if we would get off of our butts about serious electoral reform that would see our government actually better represent the wishes of the people of this country. But we digress.

You never know where a great idea is going to come from. It’s a huge weakness of our current system of government that whoever is in power tends to ignore all those other voices, no matter how good the ideas.

We should not follow their lead as we listen during campaigns.

That multitude of voices is what democracy is all about.

Far too many people are so apathetic that they don’t even bother to vote let alone run for office.

It’s refreshing to see the people willing to stand up for what they are passionate about, what they believe in, whether their views will be accepted by the masses or not.

Just getting their message out there is a victory. If they plant a seed with just a few voters that is winning. Just taking part, being part of the democratic process is something to be admired, to aspire to.