Are left-wingers more creative? Are multi-party systems superior to two-party systems? Do provocative titles attract more readers and comments?

Let’s see: a Canadian federal election, an electoral reform referendum in the UK, a new opposition leader and talk of an early provincial election in British Columbia, and lots of coverage of the likely US Republican party presidential candidates, all together, simultaneously, and at the same time?

No wonder politics has been on my mind a lot lately.

It’s not just me, either – politics has been dominating my real life and online conversations to a much greater degree than usual (except on Canucks game days, of course). A couple of interesting themes have developed…

1) There’s been a lot of very creative fun, satire, and silliness around during the Canadian federal election campaign. Spoof Twitter accounts, viral videos, fun websites, and other good things. The thing is… all of it that I’ve seen has come from the left. (Beth agrees! We discussed it during the intermission of Friday’s Canucks game!) Is there right-wing creativity and silliness out there that I’m not seeing because I’ve got my left-wing blinkers on? It’s possible, but I have enough right-leaning friends in real-life, plus on Facebook and Twitter (on Twitter I go out of my way to follow some intelligent right-wingers), that you’d think at least one of them would have posted a link. Is the left-wing contingent just naturally enriched for creative, fun, and silly people? Or is it a function of opposition versus governing parties, or of the age and other demographics of the left versus the right?

2) Discussing federal versus BC politics at the same time has been an interesting experience, and has led to the following observation:

Two-party system (e.g. BC, USA) ———-> Black-and-white thinking, “I’m right and you’re wrong” arguments

Multi-party system (e.g. Canada, UK) —–> Shades of grey, more nuanced debates

I’m just not sure the arrows are pointing in the right direction…

Thoughts? Observations? Arguments? Debates?

Anything but apathy, please. Apathy drives me NUTS!

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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48 Responses to Are left-wingers more creative? Are multi-party systems superior to two-party systems? Do provocative titles attract more readers and comments?

  1. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    BTW, if there ARE any silly right-wing videos or other sites out there, I’d LOVE to see them! Silliness is always good!

  2. I think silliness in right wing material is impossible because it is essentially already a parody of a rational perspective. In fact, even making a parody of a right wing video becomes a poe, indistinguishable from the non-parody version.

    If you have a sense of humour and can laugh at a lack of education, ignorance and lies, then every right wing video is silly. Unfortunately, they just tend to make me upset instead.

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Well, that may be a wee bit of a generalisation, but there’s a lot of truth to it, too. (Also: LOL!)

  4. Of course it’s a generalization – There is a limit to the number of characters in your comment box. (-;

    Anyhow, I’ve yet to see someone on the right approach their material with a sense of humour, or even clear data to back up their points. That’s not to say that the left is always correct either – just that the right seems to jump straight to the quote-mining, skewed statistics and bald assertions.

    It’s like religion… Have you ever seen someone threaten you with eternal damnation and hellfire while being silly? It just doesn’t make sense, and both the religious and the right are trying to do the same thing: Use fear as a motivator to encourage some behaviour.

    Fear + Silly just don’t work well together.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Good point! I’m sick and fed up of all the fear-mongering coming from Harper and co. And angry at the left for responding to “the Liberals/NDP plan to do X, which is a terrible and scary thing” not with “actually, X is not terrible or scary at all, and here’s why”, but rather with “No! We won’t do X! Don’t worry!”. Canadian politics seem to resemble US politics more and more with each election campaign…

      • ricardipus says:

        Now now, let’s not forget fear-mongering by the Liberals. Or the NDP. All are guilty of this.

        • This is not a binary function – all parties are doing it, but the scale to which the conservatives do it is pretty impressive.

          For instance, you don’t see the liberals warning you that the police are going to break down your doors and arrest you if the conservatives win. (

          When the liberals and NDP try to scare you about the conservatives, they are generally telling you something remotely factual (eg, Harper does have a track record of lying about senate reform (we will have an elected senate), budgetary issues (we will only have a recession if the liberals are elected) and spending (jets for $75M each, which even the pentagon says will be impossible, and they’re the ones setting the price on it.) – the conservatives just like to make up stuff about the others (Ignatieff is really an American!), as far as I can tell.

  5. Frank says:

    Cath – you forgot “Are Macs better than PCs?”

  6. Steve Caplan says:

    Apathy? Huh? Whuuut? I dunno, whut’s the quez, anyway? Whatever…

  7. Is there a problem with being apathetic? Meh …

  8. Massimo says:

    Anything but apathy, please. Apathy drives me NUTS!

    Oh, don’t get me started on that one. You know, this is what I want to tell all those apathetic people out there. Ready ? OK, here we go…. so… er… well… on a second thought… eh, who cares.

  9. stephenemoss says:

    In 1964 the British Conservative politician William Whitelaw (right wing) accused the then Labour prime minister Harold Wilson (left wing) of ‘going round the country stirring up apathy’. So, there is at least one instance in the history of politics of wit from a right winger. However, two years later as a small child I happened to meet Mr Wilson at a wedding, an encounter that I can recall quite clearly, and which with hindsight makes me wonder whether Mr Whitelaw may not actually have been joking.

  10. Mike says:

    Does Cromercrox’s long-standing perception of Boris Johnson as the finest blah blah blah, not count as right wing humour? Cromercrox is believably conservative (with a large C – n.b. that’s not the one that rhymes with punt), but I don’t believe he can type that statement over and over again with a straight face…

  11. Grant says:

    Are multi-party systems superior to two-party systems?

    We’ve a multi-party system with MMP voting in New Zealand. Better than the old two-party affair with first-past-the-post voting, but it still needs a little tweaking. (Both JMHO… I’ve still yet to get around to setting up a stand-alone version of my blog and syndicating back to sciblogs so that I might write more widely – the tweaks that I think are needed are something I’d love to poke at…)

    More on topic: as for satires, etc., we usually get the odd silly party registering, for example the McGillicuddy Serious Party (now long gone, but it’s an example of what I mean).

    There are, of course, a few very strange little parties that try register too…

    • antipodean says:

      McGillicuddy. Sigh- I miss them. A political party whose leading mantra was facilitating “the Great Leap Backwards” by, amongst other policies turning the motorway into a 6 lane goat track.

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        They sound very similar to the Monster Raving Loony party in the UK, who campaign on a platform that includes separate pedestrian crossings for hedgehogs and the like. Gloriously silly.

        • antipodean says:

          Exactly! It was the Monster Raving Loony party, in Kilts, in New Zealand.

        • Grant says:

          separate pedestrian crossings for hedgehogs

          *thinks* must borrow that and form a silly party for the next election 🙂

          I did once voice the notion of a science party whose sole mission would be to make parliament aware of the facts on issues by presenting them from within the House. (Wrote a few words about it passing in an article commenting on NZ’s first Chief Science Advisor’s remarks about a science in small countries.)

          • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

            I like that idea, but sadly don’t think it would gain much traction with voters. More scientists becoming politicians would be a great alternative (unless they’re Thatcher of course!)

  12. AK says:

    I’ve been seeing a lot of the various website and videos and such poking fun at the Cons (and more specifically Harper) all over facebook and they are generally met with very positive comments. The one case where somebody posted a demotivational poster making fun of Ignatieff, people jumped on the poster in comments with some rather vitriolic comments. At least within my current group of friends (mostly early 20s, mostly university students) I wouldn’t dare to post anything poking fun at the left since I really don’t want to deal with being attacked for posting something other than the “popular” viewpoint among this group.

    • I would say that much of what I’ve seen from the left has been poking fun at harper’s policies and decisions, whereas what I see from the right has been personal attacks on the other leaders, or blatant mis-information.

      That said, I’ve seen some great jabs at the liberals from the NDP and vice versa – and I haven’t complained about those in the slightest. (I’ve rather enjoyed them, actually.)

      It’s not the targets people get upset about – it’s the method.

      • AK says:

        Unfortunately, of the material I’ve been seeing, there’s been a great deal of personal attacks coming from both sides. Granted, it’s generally limited to the same few people, but they also tend to be incredibly vocal on the topic.

        What I really haven’t been enjoying is the attacks on the people posting the right-wing material, regardless of the specifics of that material. Pointing out that the links posted are personal attacks on the leaders rather than policy-related or what have you? No problem. Jumping on the person who posted those links though? That’s more of an issue. Again, this is limited to a small minority (and I realize that the plural of anecdote isn’t data!) but in my experience that’s what I’ve been witnessing.

        I haven’t been seeing any of the stuff between the liberals and NDP that you are mentioning, although that’s likely an artifact of my riding (where the liberals have a pretty nonexistent presence, and the vote is very NDP/Conservative split). I would love to be seeing a more balanced and less personal-attack set of “humourous” politics posts! Sadly, that’s not what the majority of what I’ve been seeing falls under. I enjoy a good laugh at politics in general regardless of my personal beliefs, but I am just so tired of the more angry behaviour that I’ve been seeing so far in this election. (Which I think comes down to your statement about methods vs. targets when I think about it further!)

        On a related note – voted in advance polls today and am hoping to hear good voter turnout numbers for this election overall 😀

        • Hi AK,

          I’m sorry to hear that you’re seeing a lot of personal attacks – really, elections should be about policy and not personality, but Canadian politics have come a long way since I voted my first time. (Remember the public outcry when the conservatives mocked Jean Chretien’s paralysis in the 90’s? I wonder if we’d see the same outcry now if the conservatives mocked Ignatieff’s lmage.)

          Further, I’m sorry to hear that there are attacks on the people posting right wing material, though I have seen some of it. I’m still unsure if those people doing the right-wing posting are real, however, after learning that the conservatives are hiring people to generate fake personas and comment on blogs/forums/editorials with conservative pitches. Every time I see someone posting an obvious conservative talking point that is weakly grounded in reality (aka, Trolling), that’s my first reaction. I don’t know if the other parties have employed similar tactics, but those could be the origins of a lot of the mud slinging in both directions. I wouldn’t put it past any of the 3 big parties – just one more incentive to vote green. (-;

          I suppose in my case, I get rather upset with those who are just repeating the conservative “talking points”, and not actually engaging in a dialog. THOSE people do drive me nuts, and would probably send me into a passionate and invective filled monologue. If you’re going to voice an opinion, at least take the time to respond intelligently to criticism and look for ways to defend and learn from the engagement! (-;

          At any rate, I hope all of this has driven more people to the polls – at least we’re seeing less apathy about voting this time around! I didn’t vote this weekend, as I still haven’t made up my mind where to cast my vote – all I know so far is that it won’t be for the conservatives! I’m glad you had an easier time makig your decision.

          • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

            yeah, the turnout in the advance polls was up almost 40% from last time, which can only be good, regardless of who wins (although obviously I’m hoping that a high turnout means less chance of a Tory majority!)

            AK, the reaction you mentioned to right wing postings is definitely a danger when (mostly) like-minded people cluster together in networks of Facebook friends and the like. That’s why I wondered whether I was in a left-leaning “echo chamber” that was preventing me from seeing right-wing silliness. I think my FB friends are diverse and (mostly) respectful enough to counter that possibility, though… probably…

  13. ricardipus says:

    Interesting poll results on the news today… NDP ahead of the Liberals. I’d be a bit embarrassed if I were Michael Ignatieff, seems Layton’s striking a much more positive chord with Canadians (at least the ones who respond to opinion polls).

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Unfortunately the most likely result is left-wing vote splitting getting more CPC candidates elected. Did you see the media kerfuffle today around Larry Campbell talking about a Liberal-NDP merger? I don’t think it’s likely any time soon, but if they keep splitting the vote they’ll have to do something about it eventually…

      • ricardipus says:

        No, I missed that… and I think you’re absolutely right. I also think that a number of NDP supporters in the polls may chicken out when it comes to the voting station. That’s just a guess though.

        If the Liberals finish third (or worse), I hope Ignatieff will have the good grace to step down.

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          I don’t see him having a choice. It would be a hell of a shame, though – I think he’d make a great prime minister. It was rather depressing at the family Easter dinner on Sunday to hear how much impact the Conservatives’ “he’s not a real Canadian” insinuations have had on some voters…

  14. “Are left-wingers more creative?”

    I think it depends on if the left-winger is left or right-handed…let me explain…

    Being right-handed as a left winger would make receiving passes in front of them more difficult, and make it more difficult to bring the puck down the side of the ice away from defenders. However, their shots from their strong-side would be better because the puck would be closer to the middle of the ice thereby preventing the goalie from cutting down the angle as much. If the left-winger were left-handed then they would have an easier time receiving passes in front of them and moving the puck down the ice, but more difficulty in shooting the puck from closer to the center of the ice as it would be a back-handed shot. Slap-shots and wrist shots would have to be more accurate and/or sneaky to get in as well given the angle of these shots.

    So, a left-handed left-winger is probably more creative given that scoring for them is more difficult…a right-handed left-winger would be less creative due to the fact that their strong-side puts them closer to the middle of the ice.

    I love playoff hockey!

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Me too. Hockey distraction is the main reason I haven’t been replying to all these excellent comments!

  15. Nina says:

    Politics? Politics? You mean there is a commonwealth country out there NOT completely engaged in THE WEDDING?! Please tell me your pm is going to show up in a maple leaf patterned bear skin suit stone-washed with BC jade.
    I can’t believe no one else brought this up so far.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      LMAO – if only! He was going to attend, but given that our election is on Monday (May 2nd), he decided that he should probably stay in Canada instead 🙂

  16. cromercrox says:

    Well, folks, as a right-winger whom some have accused of being quite funny at times, I find the Left generally deficient in humour, and wish they’d loosen the bolts in their necks. Anyone who thinks the right haven’t got a funny bone hasn’t read The Spectator – a magazine seen as generally right-wing but which prints a quite eclectic range of material, and which used to be edited by Boris Johnson, a man whom posterity will view as the greatest statesman of this or any other age.

    I do have a theory, though. Oh all right, an hypothesis. Left-wing tendencies tend to be seen in younger people, and right-wing tendencies in older people who’ve had their idealism tempered by Real Life. This is why young conservatives are weird, and ageing lefties can seem rather pitiable.

    But as one gets older, one tends to view events in the world with more detachment than one did as a young participant. My parents (aged 75) have been away for three months on a cruise, cut off from most media, and find the news practically unchanged from when they went away. Same old, same old. This is why I look at the news less and less as I get older (I’m 49) – why depress oneself with things one can do nothing about? – and watch the football instead. The general lack of right-wing humour might reflect the fact that many who are naturally right wing are too old and wise to get steamed up about such irrelevancies as terrorism, the economy, politics and so on, and will leave younger and more left-leaning people to waste their energies and talents on such trivial fripperies.

    Sure, I shall vote in the plethora of ballots coming up. I shall vote against AV. And whereas I wish the HRHs well in their nuptials, I shall feel no particular inclination to get riled up about it, either way.

    • Is it possible that you’re referring to the UK’s conservatives? In Canada, our NDP would roughly map to the liberals elsewhere in the world, while our liberals are pretty central and possibly the closest to the old-time conservatives of the 1970’s – though with a strong helping of socialism, and our conservatives are mostly of the gun-totting, anti-abortion, evangelical christian type.* (That may help explain why Canadian conservatives have less of a sense of humour, and have a hard time winning seats in urban areas.)

      It’s hard to imagine most Canadians “mellowing” to become evangelical christians, though that would be pretty funny.

      * Yes, as always, it’s a generalization, and not a reflection on all conservatives.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      I was hoping you’d chip in, Henry!

      Having some knowledge of both Canadian and British Conservatives, I agree with Anthony – there’s definitely a bigger religious, neo-con contingent among the former. The two political systems may be extremely similar, but there are differences in there too!

      BTW, this:

      “Left-wing tendencies tend to be seen in younger people, and right-wing tendencies in older people who’ve had their idealism tempered by Real Life. This is why young conservatives are weird, and ageing lefties can seem rather pitiable.”

      is an early contender for comment of the year, IMO!

    • ricardipus says:

      Anthony said…

      “It’s hard to imagine most Canadians “mellowing” to become evangelical christians, though that would be pretty funny.”

      I am sooo glad I wasn’t gulping a big mouthful of coffee when I read this. Thanks for the laugh. 😀

      On a peripherally related note, I photographed an evangelical Christian convention last November. Oddly enough, they were all pretty mellow, scarcely a thunder or a brimstone to be seen. Maybe they were just playing nice for their atheist guest though. 😉

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