Some people approach their right to vote like Goldilocks on a visit to the home of the three bears. They want a politician who is neither too hot, too cold, but just right. Let me break it to you gently: ‘just right’ doesn’t exist. There is no perfect candidate. Nor is there a perfect party, a perfect debate or a perfect solution to your pet political issue. There is no plan out there that will solve everyone’s concerns. There is no perfect leader. Even if God were on the ballot someone would complain about his platform.
If you’re honest, you’ll admit that at times you agree with the person you didn’t vote for, while disagreeing with the person you did. This is normal and to be expected. If you want someone who thinks exactly like you, then run yourself but be prepared for people to complain about you, too. Perfect political parties, like perfect porridge, only exist in fairytales. So grab a bowl, a little brown sugar, hold your nose and dig in.
The word ‘democracy’ sources from the Greek words meaning people’s power. I have a new name for the Canadian process: demoastheneo, or people’s impotence.
Nothing irks me more in political discussion when someone tells me they’re “voting by not voting.” That’s simply arrogant. It’s like saying you’re too perfect and intelligent to accept the inferior people who have offered their commitment as a public servant. The very nature of representative politics is that a few people make decisions on behalf of the masses. To sit back and refrain from voting is like a business owner telling his employees he doesn’t like any of them so he’s just not bothering to come in to work.
In Tamil Nadu, a state in India, politicians are offering gifts to their citizens if they win. Depending on their preferences, the people of India are voting for the guy who is promising a gold necklace, a bus pass, a blender, cable TV hookup or a couple of sheep. We might think this is crazy, but is it really that different from our own reality in Canada?
Voter apathy, that nice little label we’ve become accustomed to, is a source of shame for us. We sit and wait for candidates to offer a clever 15-second sound bite, or a shiny promise and think if they can just get it right we’ll be motivated to vote. Waiting for that is like expecting a magic leprechaun to light a match under our butt and catapult us in the direction of the polling station.
Two weeks is plenty of time to find out what the candidates think about your particular issues. In St. Albert, we only have four to choose from so it can’t be that hard. If you want to know which party has been involved in more political scandals, do some research. If your measuring stick is a party’s plans for health care or support for low-income seniors, or leadership during tough economic times, or ability to communicate, or look good on camera, or eat cookies and walk — just make a decision and vote!
Figure out what’s important to you at this time in your life and mark your ballot! Renew your personal view of the democratic process, not just for your sake, but for the next generation. Honour the valiant sacrifice of those who fought for the freedom to vote. Direct and lead your public servant. Fulfil the dream of our grandparents. Celebrate the freedom of universal suffrage.
Get off your Canadian bacon and vote.
Three of Dee-Ann’s seven children will be voting this election, and it’s possible that all parties may be represented in their home.