#74 – Down the political trails of Babel.

It fascinates us. Like the storied venomous snake that first hypnotizes its victims, Babel’s mysterious political rites draw us hypnotically into its labyrinth of political why’s and wherefore’s. Elections in Babel are not always happy “win-win” circumstances. Over the past years, they have been more like “lose-lose” situations.

Take the recent mayoralty races, for example. The talk is about the last three mayors who lost their bids for re-election. Each sought re-election and lost. It is not prescience to assume that the incumbent mayor will also be leaving office before the end of this year. Whether he will even run in the October election is a toss-up. He is likely to run but not for the reasons that people would expect. He knows he has no chance of winning.

Some people run for office because of principles in which they believe. Winning is not their first consideration. Others might be seeking a platform to express their views. Some people have been known to run for election to try to keep another from winning. Some may run for office when their real objective is to build name recognition for a subsequent election effort or in exchange for a specific appointment by the winner. In studying municipal politics over the past 50 years, you do not become overly impressed with the altruistic motives of all political candidates.

What will likely happen in Babel in October will be that the mayoralty race will be reduced to a two-person contest. It will then be the challenge for the also-rans to see who can best harry the one of the two opponents whom they least want to see win. Those who cannot win have been known to make late and quite irresponsible charges against front runners to try to stop them from winning. The last couple weeks of the campaign are always the most strident. It can create situations where both the candidates and the voters are the losers.

The key to the election for Babel voters is to take the trouble to learn the facts and then to be sure to vote. Less than 30 per cent of Babel voters voted in the 2006 municipal election. That means when you go to vote, you are carrying two non-voters on your shoulders. They are a heavy burden. Some of these non-voters are angry and despise politicians. Some are too lazy to care. The majority of non-voters are people caught up in their own world and are completely unaware of what politics really means to them.

Non-voters are considered the flotsam of the political seas. No real politician ever wants to give up on any possible vote but reality is that if you can identify enough of your vote and then make sure they get to the polls, you have a winning formula. The figures in Babel are simple. No potential councillor is likely to need more than 2000 votes to win in any of the city’s ten wards. The mayoralty will be assured for the candidate who can bring 20,000 voters out to vote. That is about one in five of the city’s total voters.

Think about it. If you choose to vote for one of the two main candidates for mayor in October, you will be carrying the responsibility for four other voters when you leave the voting place. By accepting that load, you can walk tall.

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