Yesterday my province went to the polls to vote in a new government.
In the end, only fifty-two percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot.
I feel sick to my stomach.
I cannot understand why someone, ANYONE would consciously abstain from exercising their right to vote.
I cannot, and I never will.
The importance of being politically active was instilled in me at a very early age.
I still remember the 1993 Federal election like it was yesterday – enthralled at how a Progressive Conservative majority could shrink to only two seats in the space of one day; incredulous (and nervous) that a party, whose sole raison d’etre was the Quebec secession from Canada, managed to win official opposition status.
It was the beginning of Jean Chretien’s tenure as one of Canada’s longest serving prime ministers (Mackenzie King holds top spot), and the first time I understood the utter depravity a political party will stoop to when it comes to election attack ads.
And I could not wait until I was old enough to take part.
Ten more years, I thought to myself.
Ten more years and I will help make a difference.
At only eight years of age, I understood just how important these events where – not only for Canadians as individuals, but as a country, as a collective whole.
I understood that if citizens did not take the time to 1.) understand what it was they needed from a government, and 2.) educate themselves on what candidate and/or party best represented those needs, then they were doing themselves (and their country) and tremendous disservice.
So now, twenty years later, when I look at the numbers released yesterday, I despair.
And when I am bombarded by all sorts of self-righteous excuses from those who didn’t end up voting, I rage.
- I’m so busy.
- I’m not interested in politics.
- All politicians are the same.
- All politicians are awful.
- My vote wouldn’t even make a difference.
BLAH BLAH BLAH.
And then I laugh.
I laugh, and laugh, and laugh, because if I don’t laugh, I will cry.
Or punch a hole through my wall.
Let’s just call a spade, a spade, shall we?
People, on the whole, don’t vote because they are apathetic, and chose to remain uniformed.
1. The world we (are privileged enough to) live in, allows individuals constant and unrestricted access to information – on the economic, political, social, and cultural climate of our province and country – and if they gave a hot damn about any of that they would take advantage of this information and educate themselves.
Seriously, it’s called Google, and it is great.
So in the end, I don’t care how busy people claim to be, because there is enough time, and an overwhelming number of resources available to help them figure this stuff out.
2. Don’t tell me all politicians are the same.
That is one of the silliest statements someone can make, particularly if they have already admitted that they consciously distance themselves from their province’s politics.
Unless you are living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Somalia, or Belarus, (or “insert country whose elections/elected officials are defined by overwhelming corruption/State sponsored fear-campaigns” here), there is most likely an individual that is more in line with your views and needs than all the other potential candidates in your riding, and that if elected could help make your life/community/city/province a slightly better place.
3. Also maybe next time remember that you are not in fact living in a country dominated by censorship, violence, oppression, and corruption, and remember how lucky you are to even have a choice when it comes to the election of your governing bodies.
And then once you remember that, remember your vote does count. Not only when it comes to the actually counting of the ballots, but because by voting have you given yourself agency.
You have given yourself a voice.
And I cannot think of anything more important than that.
Writing this has left me exhausted.
There are so, so many other problems I see with the BC electorate and encompassing institutions.
No proportional representation.
Elections run off of slates/political parties (which essentially makes the whole charade a two-party game.)
The futility of running a “positive” campaign.
I just…I just don’t know.
And as I sit here, I can hear little eight year-old that lives somewhere deep in my heart piping up, telling me:
“Why don’t we do it? Why don’t we run?”
And I pause.
Because I don’t know if I’ve ready. If I could hack it. Or even make it out of the starting gate.
I don’t know.
But who knows?
Either way it’s something to think about.
Before, of course, I vote on it.