The Great Election in Missinaba County recalls the excitement in Mariposa as a federal election campaign gets into swing. Henry Bagshaw, the Liberal Member of Parliament for Missinaba County, learns that hotelier Josh Smith will be running against him as a Conservative. Smith’s platform of prohibition and a restrictive trade tariff with the United States leaves Bagshaw feeling as though he has been “struck with a club” (167).
1. The election is described as “a waving of flags and a beating of drums” (155).
a) What does this description mean?
b) Is this like elections today? If so, how?
2. Voters are said to be able to “decide the most complicated question in four seconds” (156).
a) Is this true? Does the average voter believe that they know the solution to almost any problem put before them?
b) What do you think would happen if the average voter’s four-second solution was put into action?
3. What is the motivation for people who vote Conservative? What is the motivation for people who vote Liberal?
4. When Dean Drone expresses support for Liberals in his church, all the Liberals get up and leave. Similarly, when the Presbyterian minister expresses support for the Conservatives, all the Conservatives leave his church.
a) What is being said about people’s willingness to listen to viewpoints that differ from their own?
b) Does this problem of not listening to others still exist today?
5. Review the description of Henry Bagshaw on page 162. Who is he? Why does he have so many contradictory attributes? What is being said about politicians?
6. Bagshaw tells Tompkins:
Can’t you manage to get some articles in the other papers hinting that at the last election we bribed all the voters in the county, and that we gave out enough contracts to simply pervert the whole constituency. Imply that we poured the public money into this county in bucketsful and that we are bound to do it again. Let Drone have plenty of material of this sort and he’ll draw off every honest unbiassed vote in the Conservative party. (165)
Aside from the reason he gives, why would Bagshaw plant a story in the papers about handing out bribes and public money?