In my home town of Sudbury, we are electing a new city council in less than a week, as they are across the province. I don’t have a lot to say about it, but I figured what I do have to say, better be posted now, before I forget or it looses its timeliness. Like that piece I was going to write a year ago when Harper prorogued parliament for the second time, or that piece about Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, and how he’s insane.
Anyway, I’ve been voting since I turned 18, and I got lucky, since my first election was a week after my 18th birthday. I’ve always had a passion for politics and I’ve always cared who got elected, always staying up late to watch the election coverage until all the results were in. It’s the last good reason to have a TV. So I love it when I get the chance to exercise my democratic right, and I always kind of get excited when an election comes around because it’s my only chance to have my opinion really, truly matter, and as Craig Ferguson once said, “if you don’t vote, you’re a moron.”
Typically municipal elections see the lowest turnout of any election. Which makes sense to me because…well…the last municipal election was the only one I did not participate in…yeah, not proud of that. The reason I didn’t vote was because I didn’t know who to vote for. I had no idea who was running, what the issues were, or where they stood. The reason for this was I rarely, if ever, watch the local news, or read the local paper. Which is sad, I know. Even if I did, I would have had no idea where to look for stories about the candidates for councillor from my ward. They typically focus on the mayoral race. If I did vote, it would have been just a random selection with no real intelligence backing it up. This was a case where I had no real qualms about having other people choose for me, primarily because odds are, they would know more than me.
In my mind, there is only one legitimate excuse to not vote: you really do not have an opinion about politics. Which, if that’s true, you must live in a concrete sensory deprivation box. As my former J-Prof once said, everything is politics. The streets we walk and drive on, the pay-cheque we receive from our employers, the bank that holds our money, the money we have in the bank and our wallets, the hospitals and police, the homes we live in, the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe. They are all connected to the government, and by extension, to politics. If you have no opinion on any of them, you are a sad individual, or dead, either one, because as Craig Ferguson once said, “If you’re alive you’re involved in politics.”
I find it very disconcerting that this is something I need to actually write. I remember my first election, which, as I said, was a week after my 18th birthday. I asked one of my friends, who was actually older than me, a month older than me to be precise, if she knew who she was going to vote for. She replied that she wasn’t going to vote because she was too busy. Are you kidding me? See, it’s statements like that, which prove to me that we, as a people, are insane. When someone says they are too busy to live in a democracy, they treat what some would consider a luxury, like those in Iran, Burma and North Korea, as an inconvenience. This could only happen in a truly decadent society, and I mean that in the worst possible way.
We have to be sold democracy in this country? What the hell is going on? Let me guess, it goes a little something like this:
Salesman: Hi! Welcome to Governments Etc.. We have a special this week on Democracy. You get to choose who leads your government, and they become accountable to you as a people, and all it costs is about ten minutes, less than once a year.
Customer: Uh…that seems a little inconvenient. What do you have in a dictatorship?
I MEAN COME ON!!!
Because that’s what it is, not voting is a vote…for autocracy. In a democracy, the people run things, indirectly, through their elected representatives. To not vote is basically saying: I don’t want to live in a democracy, I don’t want to run things, I don’t want to make that decision, someone else do it for me. Who says that? If you don’t like living in a free country, I suggest you do what a friend of mine did, and move to China. Though he did that for more personal reasons.
You know, I think I know the reason municipal elections get the lowest turnout, because they get the least amount of press. Typically the federal and provincial elections get much more press. The local news covers it, the regional news down in Toronto covers it, the national news covers it. It’s all hard to avoid. In the case of a municipal election, you will only see coverage in the local newspaper and the local 6:00 news, if you’re lucky. However, it’s unlikely they will have much more than the mayoral race. Don’t forget, there’s also the race for city councillors, which in Sudbury is 12 separate races, and school board trustees, of which there are 24 (four boards with six races each, which is a rant I could get into another time).
Where does every candidate stand on the issues? I can’t tell. I attempted to look stuff up on the races on the Sudbury Star website and while I found plenty on the race for mayor, and a bit on the race for my Ward’s councillor (mainly campaign videos by one of the two candidates) I found nothing on the candidates for school board trustee. The mayor is not the only player in city hall. In fact, last I checked, the mayor doesn’t have a whole lot of power either. Though I may be thinking of the United States.
This is why people don’t vote in the municipal elections. It’s why I didn’t vote in the municipal election last time. I actually did know who I would have voted for in the race for mayor, but not councillor or trustee. So I didn’t bother voting, especially considering it was looking like the mayoral race would be a landslide.
Now, if you are seriously too busy to vote. First off, you must be going insane, what with having absolutely no free time. Secondly, by law your employer is required to let you have an extra hour off work to vote. Thirdly, there are advance ballots, and there are mail-in ballots. Call your local election authority and ask about it, or better yet, visit them online. Voting is not hard, nor is it okay to avoid.
The old adage of “if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,” still applies. If you don’t vote, why would any politician care about your views? They can’t lose or gain your vote if it doesn’t exist, and no one is allowed to complain in a dictatorship. …See what I did there?