Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 19, 2019
Political smorgasbord doesn’t come free
Transactional politics are nothing new. That’s where a politician and/or a party offers goodies on the front end of the transaction, and the voter supports the politician/party on the back end.
It’s not unlike shopping and being drawn to sales or special deals that look especially appealing. That outfit looks good, but wait, the one next to it looks as good but it’s cheaper, or perhaps nicer in some small way. So the natural tendency is to take the one that seems better, even if the difference is marginal.
But what if the front of the special buy is fine, but you see flaws or differences once it’s unwrapped? What if you find out it needs special treatment when being cleaned, or it requires some sort of investment you weren’t expecting?
The analogy with the kind of transactional politics we’re experiencing during this election campaign isn’t perfect, but it serves the purpose. The political store has been bustling with promises, especially over the last several days, as the competing parties roll out their platforms — bit by bit — and try to be the outfit with that special something.
There’s nothing wrong with all this, to a point. It serves the purpose of offering measurable alternatives. If you don’t like the Conservative plan to expand RESPs, you can choose the Liberals because you like their plan about helping first-time home buyers. Or vice-versa. But it can be problematic when this sort of offer-of-the-day political play dominates the campaign to the exclusion of all else, and that is what’s happening right now.
It’s a veritable smorgasbord. Pick the party that has enough you like, and just vote for them? Of course, it’s not that easy. We know that not all promises are kept. Remember Justin Trudeau on electoral reform. We know that not all promises are fully explained. Andrew Scheer’s tax cuts are phased in so the maximum benefit comes only after three years. And the cost of that promise alone is $6 billion, which has to be paid for by someone — who might that be?
A big problem with many of the promises made to date is that the parties haven’t explained fully — in some cases not at all — how they will pay for their promises. That’s a critical part of understanding how parties will govern if elected. And it’s not always just about balanced budgets or deficits. It’s also about what things — like government services and support — get sacrificed in order for promises to be kept.
All smorgasbords end the same way. There’s a bill to pay. We can all stand to be reminded of that. (Hamilton Spectator)