Constituency – Masters vs Voters
It is folly to believe that because you vote for a particular party or live in a particular riding that you are a member of the constituency.
Yes, by definition, you are. Constituency, a noun, meaning “a body of voters in a specified area who elect a representative to a legislative body” according to the Oxford Dictionary. That same dictionary contains this example of how the word is used, “the politician who wishes to remain in the good graces of his constituency”.
There is a subtle but important, practical, and real disconnect between those who vote (the voters) for the politician and those for whom the politician votes (the masters). And, both are constituents.
Unfortunately, the best place to find examples that define this disconnect is within the history of the Republican Party (the Grand Old Party, the GOP) of the USA. They don’t hide their constituencies as much as the other parties in the developed world.
The GOP serves extreme wealth and corporate power. It is for that constituency that they legislate – i.e. – work.
That constituency does not have enough votes to bring the GOP to power. Where then does the GOP get the necessary votes?
First, by gerrymandering. This is the practice of manipulating district boundaries to ensure success. Second, by disenfranchisement. This is the practice of depriving people of the right to vote – the revocation of suffrage. There are several examples of both.
Third, by invoking Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. Simply put, appeal to racists – easy pickings because nobody else wants them. Fourth, by appealing to the religious. The pro-choice Republican Party of the 60’s made a conscious change to pro-life in order to garner the Northern Catholic vote. They won over the Evangelical vote at the same time. Bonus.
Fifth, by supporting gun ownership. Sixth, by taking an anti-brown immigration stance. Seventh, by changing the party position on climate. Within the past decade, the GOP went from believing in climate change to denying it. Eighth, by owning some of the media – therefore, the message – and by attacking that part that they do not own. Ninth, by denying. Everything.
The GOP is a chameleon masquerading as an elephant. Success for any party is dependent upon knowing where the voters are and appealing to them. The GOP is successful.
In Canada, and in most of the developed world, the distinction between constituency (the voters) and constituency (the masters) is not so obvious. That was one point of the post last week: Is the Canadian voter more left or more right? Certainly, most Canadian voters are not all-left or all-right. Canadian political parties have to slice and dice the middle ground carefully in order to appeal to enough voters that they win the day.
Canadian voters are strategic small-l liberals (left of centre) but tactical small-c conservatives (right of centre). And, we force our politicians to campaign with poetry though we expect that they will govern in prose.