Everybody loses tonight in Alberta

In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, many Canadian political observers warned about how Donald Trump's apocalyptic campaigning, where voting was depicted as a choice between the evil hordes and the only man great enough to fix America's problems, could migrate north of the 49th parallel.

Sadly, that warning has come to pass.

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The Alberta provincial election, which comes to a merciful end today, has been portrayed by both Rachel Notley's NDP and Jason Kenney's United Conservatives as an end of days vote, filled with dire predictions of catastrophe should the other side win.

This was precisely Trump's path to the White House in 2016.

Democrats in general and Hillary Clinton in particular were portrayed as criminals stealing money, abandoning U.S. citizens in and out of uniform to their deaths in foreign countries, raping and murdering children in the basements of pizza joints, slaughtering unborn babies, importing Mexican rapists and so on.

Clinton, for the most part, didn't engage, not because she didn't want to or felt bound by tradition or morality to avoid making a nasty campaign even worse, but because she mistakenly believed she didn't need to in order to win.

Looking back, some would argue that if Clinton had spent the last week calling Trump a racist, non-religious, serial adulterer, woman-abusing idiot unfit to lead his own family business, never mind the United States of America, she might have won.

And just like that, the ends justify the means and the lunatics on both sides of the political spectrum are justified in demonizing their opponents because it pays off at the ballot box, no matter the cost to civil society, truth, fairness and other important ideals.

All Notley and Kenney have succeeded in doing is turning Albertans against one another. Their campaigns were not based on what they can do to help Albertans but on the incredible harm the other will cause should their filthy hands hold the levers of power.

"I'm better than her/him because she/he is/will destroy Alberta," is their common theme.

In an election where Albertans really needed some serious, thoughtful debate about their path forward as a province, the two politicians who would lead them chose instead to betray them.

Notley's campaign has tarred Kenney and his supporters as backward hatemongers, so a vote for Kenney is a vote for intolerance.

Kenney's campaign has tarred Notley and her supporters as politically correct oppressors of thought and expression, so a vote for Notley is a vote for intolerance.

This isn't the politics of a modern democracy, anchored by the rule of law and engaged citizens.

This is social media namecalling replacing debate. This is road rage replacing leadership.

This is all-caps outrage replacing governance.

Worst of all, this insidious political virus looks like it will spread from Alberta.

Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau are already giving Canadians a taste of what this fall's election will be like.

And how will John Horgan and Andrew Wilkinson conduct themselves in the next provincial election, whether it happens this spring or two springs from now?

If this is how citizens expect our elected leaders to behave, then we surely will receive the governments we deserve. If we want our elected leaders to be better, we must demand better.

Rather than supporting those who simply reflect our petty insecurities and childish fury back at us, we should seek representatives with the courage and vision to imagine solutions to problems beyond blaming someone else.

There will be no winner tonight in Alberta and that is a tragedy for the province and for the country.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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