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.
32 thoughts on “The politics of the situation”
You’ve got my vote!
Thanks sweets! I know I can count on you :)
You think 52% is bad, in local elections this month we had a 36% turnout!
what AJ said: 52% would be considered a mandate in my neckkuvv the woods …
Gah, that’s horrible!
but ittiz whatttittizz
Yikes! That isn’t good either. What do you think is the biggest reason people didn’t cast ballots?
It’s hard to say for sure but owing to the current coalition government in parliament here in the UK it’s probably people not voting because they’ve lost interest in politics or aren’t happy with any of the parties available to vote for. We expected most people to vote for UKIP as the ‘protest party’ (Other people’s words, not mine) but it seems they just didn’t bother at all. It’s quite sad really and most of us believe that they have no right to complain about politics if they can’t be bothered to vote.
I think that’s a really good point – people think change will happen so they never bother to vote themselves. And thus, the status quo is maintained!
Vote me in as well. I have this same debate with my own sons who are not concerned about voting. It is frustrating.
Thanks Donna! It can be super frustrating, right? All the more reason to keep trucking – we’ll support each other!
I could be wrong but 52% sounds like a lot to me. And while I agree that there are few things more important to a society than a well informed citizenry engaged in the process; somehow seeing a larger percentage of voters makes me think about those countries where a leader wins nearly 100 percent of the vote with nearly 100 percent of voters voting and that scares me more than the apathy and idiocy of my peers who couldn’t figure out the difference between Mittens and Obama (regardless of political affiliation and race, the contrasts were relatively stark).
I definitely see where you are coming from – large voter turnouts and landslide victories always smell fishy (especially depending on what country these results are coming out of.) However, in a country like Canada there is really no reason not to vote. Like, none.
Preach it sister! I grew up (and live in) the United States and freedoms was taught to me at a young age. I’ve seen where there is freedom and where there is coercion in the politics of the USA. However, I’ve also spent a significant amount of time in West Africa and have lived first hand the captivity and corruption of those governments. Having gone through such opposition, I’m incredibly grateful for voting in the United States; never would I take that for granted. What a gift you and I have to be a voice!
Exactly! It IS a gift, and one that should be remembered and celebrated, and USED whenever we have the chance! And like you say, there is coercion , and dodging politics at play in our own countries, which just means we need to hold governing bodies all the more accountable!
Thanks for this note. It makes my heart smile. :)
Voter turnout in our last presidential election hovered, I think, around 58%— better than 52%, but still not great. It angers, saddens, and disgust me, too. There are very few excuses for not voting that have an legitimacy, IMHO — I ran for Board of Education and (surprise!) got elected. Do it! Serving your community is on of the most rewarding things you will ever do!
You would be amazing as a politician so it comes as no surprise to learn that you served on the BoE. I cannot WAIT to spend more time picking your brain – it is coming up so soon! MEEP!
Right from the heart again!….take it or leave it! (I’ll take it!). And so much brain to tie all these emotions together. Go GIRL!! We need people like you in politics to give it back its noblesse! Without politics we would be eating each other!
Yvon duuuuude. I appreciated this comment more than you know! So glad you enjoyed this post (I had a feeling you might) and when I announce my candidacy you will be one of the first to know! x
I love your passion. Seriously, V. I believe you would have the support of many communities, cities, and provinces if you chose to run. Think of how wide a net you’ve cast already! The best ideas often sound the “craziest.” If anyone could do it, it would be you. You know that. :) xoxo.
Oh Ms. Rooney, you do know how to make my little heart smile!
Ummm, want to come work on a campaign? I could use an expert writer (and one who knows how to talk me down from a panic attack or two.)
I <3 you!
I so appreciate your honest expressions, and this entry voiced the concern that many of us share.
Thank you so much. It’s so reassuring to know there are others who feel the same way. :)
in no small part due to the overwhelming exhaustive ‘attack’ ads — i’ve been voting 3rd party (mostly) for many years. Steve Johnson (L) for president, next time around!
If there is one thing that Yanks do waaaay better than us Canucks (and there are others, of course) it’s attack ads. I mean, we’re bad up here, but American attack ads are a level above. They are ruthless!
sad, but true.
Thank you for eloquently laying out the rebuttles for the comments that have been unsettling me for a good long while now.The turnout for our last provincial election was 42%, and I remember feeling equally frustrated and discouraged by people’s explanation for their lack of involvement in the political process. Hopefully, if enough people speak loudly and passionately enough, more voters will come to realize that voting is a gift and a privilege, not a de facto state of affairs to be taken for granted and tossed away at will. P.S., You should run federally, man, I’d totally vote for you:)
Thank you for this brilliant note! It really can be heartbreaking can’t it?
What province do you call home? For some reason I feel so crazy naive when it comes to Canada. I always think we should be better than this! And I really might have to call on that vote! :)
I’m from Alberta:) Yeah, I’m always a little surprised at how many people here just don’t vote because they feel like it won’t make a difference. We’ve had the blue ties here for so long it’s starting to get discouraging.
No doubt! But people like you are what will change that – slowly, but surely. I mean, it just needs to start at Calgary’s mayorship and go from there, right?