The Choices We Make

When my husband and I were engaged, I distinctly remember him promising me that once we were married he would give me a massage every night before we went to sleep. I looked forward to this with blissful expectation.

Don't get me wrong, my hubby loves me, serves me and is far more wonderful to me than I deserve, but, as you probably guessed, that pre-wedding promise of every single night didn't make it out of the starting gates.

When I was thinking about marriage, my priority wasn't to find someone who made me the most promises. I knew my young self fairly well, and I knew the kind of character I was looking for in a man. We've been married just over 8 years (most of those happily) and we've been able to survive many of those less significant undelivered promises because of the greater picture.

This past spring I became as my husband would say obsessively interested in the provincial election. The massive change that took place was fascinating in itself but what I was particularly interested in was how people seemed to be coming to a decision.

While chatting with my favourite teacher friend and social studies expert, I asked her, when you're teaching high school students about politics, do you teach them to vote based on partyplatform or person?

She said after convincing them to vote at all, they typically show them the political spectrum and have them determine where they fall on it with their personal beliefs. After they've determined their own political identity, they then introduce the parties and have them determine who they align with the most. From there they discuss platforms and more specifics.

Her personal response was, "I will always vote (insert party) because that is what I am. I am a  (insert party-ist)."

As the provincial election was approaching, I myself was feeling a little overwhelmed by the differing platforms, Facebook posts and news stories.

I kept hearing "time for change" so I went on Vote Compass. I typed in my answers to fifteen or so questions about the platforms, and then the website told me who I should vote for, I was especially interested when the answer was a party that I would not have aligned myself with.

For the past provincial election, it seemed like platform was a popular way to vote. I had a few conversations with people who said something like, I voted based on what the parties said they would do for healthcare and education.

When the results came back and the news started predicting what would happen with a now socialist government in power, it seemed like many were surprised. Afterall, Vote Compass never used the word socialist.

In the Mud and the Masterpeice, John Burke describes two models for decision making that we typically fall into. He claims we either make decisions based on identity or consequence.

The focus of identity based decision making is- this is who I am and what I believe to be true. In the given situation, what would someone with this identity do?

Consequence based decision making focuses on the possible outcomes. How could this end? What are the possible results? Are they positive or negative? How will they impact me?

I've heard on more than one occasion the statement, "politicians lie". So do people. (They are people after all.) While this may sound a tad harsh, the reality is complete election platforms are rarely delivered. We are all capable of communicating what we think people need to hear to get our desired result.

For the upcoming election, take the time to remember or determine your political identity. Which party best represents who you are and what you believe religiously, economically and politically? Consider what the party stands for and ask yourself, does who I am and what I believe in align with what the party fundamentally stands for? Vote based on the party, the platform and person.

I hope our next Prime Minister is voted in because of those reasons. Not because anyone was feeling mad at any one politician. Not because we voted out of spite. Not because we jumped on any bandwagon. Not because we picked a new favourite color for the week. Not because we heard a few promises that sounded good, but because we all looked closely at who we are, what we believe, what we stand for, and found the party that most accurately reflects all of those things.

I hope we find ourselves happily married (for most of the time) with the majors being upheld and delivered on.