Party Membership: Is it for you?

The topic of today’s post is quite simple: Are you currently, or have you ever been a member of a political party in the country in which you live? The few times that I have asked this question (to a non political minded) group, the answer has generally been NO! So that got me to thinking. How relevant is membership to a political party today? I can only speak of my own experience here in Canada, but it seems to me that the benefit to holding an active membership card to a particular party may be diminishing.

I personally have only ever been a member of one political party, and ironically it was not the party which I generally identify with, or vote for. The only reason I joined, and payed my $5.00, was so that I could cast a ballot in their leadership contest. Back in 2006, I joined the Alberta Progressive Conservatives, and cast my ballot to elect Ed Stelmach. I was so inspired by Stelmach, and I thought that he would be a refreshing face in Alberta politics, so I joined the party. Those of us in Alberta know how that turned out…

Looking back, I find it silly, even hypocritical, that I joined a party that I generally do not vote for, simply to pick their leader. Now, I did feel I had a right to join the party and vote, because whoever was selected would automatically become Premier. Shouldn’t I have a say in who runs my province? It wouldn’t be until 2008, that an election was held to offer a true verdict on Stelmach.

However since then, I have not joined a political party, and I don’t feel there is anything missing in my life because of that. I have considered it on a few occasions, specifically around election times. But I always change my mind when it comes time to pay the membership fees. Although they are usually insignificant, I still feel their is too little reward for handing over my cash. Besides, using the “I am a broke student” excuse comes in handy more often than one would think.

With two of the federal parties in the process of selecting new leaders, it has again made me consider purchasing a membership, so that I can have a say in who leads the party I most closely identify with (I will leave it up to you to decide which one it is). But once again, my inner Scrooge feels there is simply not enough to be gained by purchasing a membership. I can still be extremely active within the party, without being an official member. There are many ways to volunteer and get involved with a party at the federal or provincial level.

Currently in Alberta, the Progressive Conservatives are once again voting to elect a new leader. This time however, I decided against joining and voting. And in all likelihood, it will be a longtime, before I join another party. I quite simply can’t be bothered. And if someone with a high interest in politics can’t be bothered, what hope is there for those who don’t like politics. Or am I simply the exception. I would like to know your thoughts. Are you currently a member of a political party (and of course, do not feel pressured to name the party specifically)? Have you ever been a member in the past? Do you see any benefit, beyond participation in the selection of leaders? Comment below.


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About Chris James

A student of political science at a Canadian University sharing stories of interest on Canadian and American political and social issues.

Posted on September 26, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think the benefit is being able to vote for the next leader. This Saturday I will be purchasing a PC membership to vote in the leadership election.

    I think the issue is that unless you have an undying devotion to a specific mentality or part there is not much point being an active participant in a party. Thats why the “party base” is important but so is getting the people off the street because thats what will win you an election.

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