I’m not voting today in the 42nd Canadian Federal election, found through social media as elxn42.
That’s because I already voted last week.
Voting is a choice. You have the choice to vote.
Some people are going to get very mad at you if you don’t vote. They think it should be mandatory. That you cannot have an opinion in the political process if you avoid voting. Even if I consider this election extremely important, the most important election in my voting life, I don’t want anyone to feel like voting should be forced upon them. If you want to skip voting and still complain about the country, that’s your right.
To not vote is actually more powerful than a vote in our current election system. We’ve elected majority governments not because the majority of Canadians voted for the party, but because such a massive amount of Canadians did not vote and minimized the numbers needed to form a majority government.
That’s the funny thing about power. Sometimes it’s given to you. Sometimes it’s taken away. Sometimes you give it away. Usually you’re giving it away.
There are a lot of Canadian pundits and personalities who have tried to put this election on the backs of our youth. The 18-35, which I reside in the late side of. These tastemakers say that the youth can change this election. Maybe they can. But the 18-35 is also constantly expected to prop up a country that doesn’t give them any respect. We are the lazy millennials, no different from the lazy slackers and hippies of previous generations. We are constantly doubted, constantly ridiculed for not having understood our place in the world and certainly given only a modicum of attention in federal party promises. This country is constantly promised to us, only for the attention to be focused on the baby boomers and Generation X (as it was when Gen X was ignored for the baby boomers). Whenever political party leader talk about the youth and their importance, it always sounds like they are patronizing the Generation Y/millennials they claim to be building this country for.
“You matter too!”
I don’t blame any of us if we stay at home, work or school. The vote doesn’t feel like it’s going to what matters to us. It feels like it’s going to matter to our fathers and grandfathers, to our mothers and grandmothers. A perpetual system of only satisfying the ones on their way out of the work force instead of making it easier for those entering the work force. In professional wrestling (I always find a way to work a wrestling analogy!), it’s the older wrestlers, the veterans, expected to set up things for the green horns, the future. When leaving your prime you’re supposed to give up your previous success to the next generation so you have a successful wrestling business for the next generation. It rarely happens. We still praise Terry Funk for doing it 25 years ago because we don’t have a lot of examples of the past putting over the present for the future.
But those pundits and personalities like Rick Mercer? They are right. You will change this election. You will change it with a vote, and you will change it by not voting. That’s the power you wield. And the craziest part about it, you’re not going to feel that power until years down the road, when those political figures finally start paying attention to you. You won’t wonder who cared about you at 25 years old. You’ll only care that they pay attention to you at 45.
Nobody wants to talk about this sort of thing. They only want to tell you to vote. They want to tell you about the change you can bring. Even the Conservatives, who are in power, want to promote change in staying in leadership. But when you wake up tomorrow? It’ll be the same Canada. With the same neighbours. With the same laws and rights. Change is not instant. Change takes time. We’re a very large country with only 30 million of us. The change one feels in the east is not the change they feel in the west.
Right now, everyone wants to tell you how powerful you are today (or were when you already voted). They want you to vote or else. They want you to feel like voting is going to change this country for the better, never for the worse, and that you’ll feel that change immediately. Right now, Canada is blowing a lot of smoke up your ass.
And as much as they might be wrong or misleading, no matter how heavy the hyperbole? They are right.
But being right and saying what matters is two different things. I want you to educate yourself beyond Facebook posts, Personal blogs and YouTube videos (though John Oliver’s was great). If you haven’t yet read up on your local MP, your political parties, their promises and where Canada sits today, do it now. And tomorrow? Read some more. Your education does not end when the last vote is counted. That’s the one thing rarely anyone says today. Voting is the least you can do. I honestly do not care if you voted. I care if you educated yourself on what’s going on in this country and what you do about it.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done a mediocre job actually reading and understand everything that has happened to our country in the past decade. I’ve resigned myself to reading a few biased sources and accepting the “choose your hockey team” qualities that are supporting one party over others. There’s a lot more I could have done, and for me to act like crossing an X in a circle is the most important thing I could do is to give away every bit of power I could possibly have in our federal system. I love living in Canada (even if I hate our weather for half the year) but I hate living in the nose high ignorance that is the current Canadian temperament. We know more of what’s going on in America than we do in our own country, which gives us the Niles Crane attitude that everything is okay because we’re not Fraiser. It’s not okay.
So today? If you haven’t voted and you don’t vote, I don’t hate you for your decision. In a lot of ways, I agree with your decision. This election is the most important election of my voting life, and I know that for the little I’ve done to read about it. But I haven’t done enough, and likely, neither have you. Voting is extremely important to the federal process, but it’s only the start. We don’t do this every year, and if you think that one day of due diligence means everything, then that is the greatest problem we face. If the only thing you’ve done to support this country from this election until the next is cross an x on a piece of paper?