My #ndpldr Ballot (Along With Some Random Thoughts)

At different points in the NDP Leadership race, I’ve been able to see each of Charlie Angus, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh as my top choice based on their policies or other attributes.

A lot of my Sask NDP friends (IRL and FB) are big supporters of Niki Ashton. But, though I do like what she’s trying to do in building a movement of youth and other marginalized groups, I don’t think she’s been able to capture that same energy like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn did (and each NDP leadership candidate has ways they echo the things Sanders brought to the most recent US Presidential race, not just Ashton.)

As well, I was personally disappointed in how she handled Elbowgate – even if I agreed with her defending her co-worker and standing up for women’s rights, her approach felt like grandstanding and took the focus from where it needed to be and made it easier for casual observers to dismiss her and the NDP.

I also disagreed with how quickly she apologized to a local chapter of Black Lives Matter who called her out over an “offensive” tweet early in the race. I mean, if you do or say something legitimately dumb or offensive, that’s one thing and you should apologise.  But her offense?  Cultural appropriation by quoting a Beyonce song? Written by Scandinavian songwriters Which otherwise has nothing to do with African-American culture or experience??  Jesus H. Christ on a pickle stick.

So Ashton ends up fourth of my ballot (even though, I’m sure that also automagically makes me a sexist in a lot of her supporters’ minds somehow – even though if Megan Leslie had run, I could easily see her being my top choice.)

Anyhew, that’s a lot of pixels spent on my fourth place choice (who, even if I’m critical in some ways, also happens to be the only candidate I’ve met in person, the only one who truly embraces prairie populism, and, I’m pretty sure, is also the only one of the current leadership candidates who ever has spoken in my small hometown of 2000 people!)

Number three was a tough call too as the remaining candidates all have different strengths that appeal to me – Caron’s economic knowledge and Quebec connection, Angus’ working class bonafides and punk sensibility, Singh’s unique story and charisma – and as I said, there were times I could see each of them as my number one.

I went back and forth on my number two and number three votes as much as any in this contest but ultimately, I decided that my number three spot would go to Charlie Angus.

I’m not 100% convinced that, even if a party needs Quebec to gain power, they have to have a leader from or with Quebec connections.  But that argument did help push Caron higher in my rankings.  Endorsements generally don’t have a huge amount of influence either but the fact that Angus ended up with the least MP endorsements of any candidate (including Singh who’s not even a sitting MP) also helped drop him in my rankings too – if you can’t get the support of the people you’re asking to lead, how can you lead them if you win?

So that made my final decision between Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh.

And if I’m being completely honest with myself – even though I played around with the idea of ranking each of Angus, Caron and Singh on the top of my ballot at different points – Singh was my placeholder top choice, pretty much since I first got wind of him as a potential candidate and learned a bit more about his background and personal story.

It sort of reminds me of how I first became a supporter of Ryan Meili.

If I haven’t told the story before, in the 2009 Sask NDP Leadership race, the three announced candidates were all fairly stereotypical politicians – a former MLA, a current MLA, a former party president.  But especially after the excitement generated by Obama in 2008, I was hoping to find something similar in Saskatchewan’s race – a unique outsider with a great personal story.

Ryan announced and he didn’t reach the heights that Obama did (Ryan’s lost two leadership bids and Obama won the Presidency twice for one thing!) 😉 but, like Obama, Ryan provided a perspective, background and blend of skills that is incredibly unique.

Ryan is often portrayed on the far left of the political spectrum and Jagmeet Singh has been attacked as “Liberal-lite” on the right side of what is (barely) tolerable to “true” NDPers.

So how do I reconcile my support for two such (seemingly) disparate candidates?

My whole life – I’ve loved stories.  I read out my hometown public library growing up.  As an undergrad, I completed an English Literature degree, specializing in writing and language.  I worked in (and continue to volunteer) in book publishing.  I’ve worked for writers’ organizations and now for a public library system.

So what do I want in a leader?

Ultimately, I want someone who has a great story to tell – not just to me but to all voters. And for the federal NDP, I think Jagmeet Singh has the potential to be that leader.

It’s not the deciding factor for me but I also really like the idea of the NDP electing Canada’s first federal leader from a visible minority group and how that would not only be a reflection of Canada’s increasing diversity and help grow the party in new ways.  But I also like how it might make many of the quiet racists in our country who aren’t so overt with their beliefs possibly have their heads explode when they see a guy in a turban in this position! 😉

I’m not the only one who sees Singh’s potential as a potentially groundbreaking leader (not to keep piling on Ashton but the NDP has already not one but two former leaders who were female.  So the colour-barrier is the next big bridge to cross in my mind.)

Earlier, I noted how much support Niki Ashton had among Sask NDPers.  One even posted a request for people to share their ballots as he was making up his mind and I was a bit surprised that Jagmeet was getting a lot of support as people’s second – and even their first choice.  I didn’t tabulate it but based on that small sample size plus various other indicators (fundraising, members signed up, etc.), I think Jagmeet might have this in the bag.

Would I be excited about that?  Well, like I said, I played around with the idea of making another candidate my top choice.  But the only candidate I ever gave money to in the race – right after he announced – was Jagmeet Singh.

So in terms of putting my money where my mouth is, I hope Singh pulls off a victory and like another great NDP leader, whose “Love and Courage” slogan Singh evokes and who was chosen as Leader before becoming an elected MP, I hope Singh can also lead the federal NDP to even greater heights!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 2

  1. From Head Tale - 10 Things That Excite Me About @thejagmeetsingh Winning #ndpldr (and 5 That Make Me Nervous) on 01 Oct 2017 at 11:01 pm

    […] is more personal but Jagmeet Singh might be the first time I’ve supported somebody who actually won a political race in at least a decade and probably longer – not one of my picks for city councillor or mayor […]

  2. From Head Tale - 2017 End of Year Memes: Blog Blows Up, Libraries Live, Seasonal Summer, Tropical Travels on 31 Dec 2017 at 1:04 am

    […] isn’t working and choose Ryan.)  A razor-thin NDP victory in BC was awesome and unusually, I managed to support a candidate in a leadership race who actually managed to win. (Good karma for Ryan’s chances maybe?) […]

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