on my soap box

Me and the mister sat down and started watching Michael Moore’s Slacker Uprising before going out last night and it made me sad and angry.  Sad and angry because, for all his effort and good intentions, he fails to touch upon the fundamental reason why his nation’s president did not get voted into power but took it by default and why he’s come up snake eyes in increasing voter turn out.  He comes so close.  The answer is always right in front of him throughout his appearances, but he just didn’t catch it and his words and appeals are not going to make a difference if he doesn’t.  Under 50% voter turn-out does not a slacker voter generation indicate.  What it does indicate is a nation whose government is inaccessible to 50% of its population.  Theirs is a government created and maintained by rich white boys for rich white boys and fails again and again to bridge the gap to engage and create representation the formidable portion of their population who does not fit that demographic.  Canadian government is no different and we’re quickly approaching the United States’ levels of apathy and blindness on this matter.

This is where my voting vs. non-voting soap box comes into play; I know that there really and truly are individuals and entire groups of people so entirely disenfranchised and unrepresented by our government and the system it works to maintain. People the political machine can’t reach because they don’t speak the right language.  Because they don’t have a TV or a computer.  Because they work 3 jobs and still can’t afford a roof under which to read a newspaper.  Because our governments’ policies are so alien to the way they live and breathe on the same soil as the rest of us.  Because they live in communities so far removed culturally or geographically that our governments’ have written them off.  Because they’re ex-pats and students and soldiers and travelers in other countries who don’t receive their ballots until weeks after election and are not informed that their vote still counts. I can’t reach these people.  Michael Moore can’t reach these people.  It’s our governments’ job to reach these people and our nations’ abilities to thrive, I would even go so far as to say survive, depend on reaching these people.  That our governments’ don’t reach out is indicative of the weakness of the governments we have (or have not, as the case may be) voted into power above and below the 49th parallel.

Then there are those of you who choose not to vote because you feel unrepresented and disenfranchised, but you aren’t.  If you look deep down, can find something valid to relate to in at least one party’s platform you really should go out and cast your vote based on that no matter how futile you feel your contribution is.  If you’re reading this and considering not voting, you’re not one of the people I listed above.  You are the person Michael Moore has tried to reach.  You are the person I can reach.   You are not one of the actually disenfranchised bodies and I implore you; vote.  If only for those who are actually, really and truly unrepresented.  Vote for a government which will empower all of us through grassroots changes and bring the rest into the fold and foster undivided nations.  Vote for a government which makes itself accessible to all citizens and not just those of us who are privileged enough to bear witness to its propaganda and false promises.

If you really really feel the need to not vote, go cast a ballot anyway – don’t check off the name of the candidate simply write that you’re choosing not to vote and write down one reason why.  Do this knowing that there are also us in-betweens who have thrown all of our support at our more grass roots politicians but who will turn up to the polls on Tuesday and toss in a vote against the party we don’t want to have in power.  We don’t necessarily condone your choice, but we kinda get where you’re coming from and we might be able to sway your decision if we get you face to face =)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “on my soap box

  1. The spoiled ballot is counted. When I switched over to CHEX for a few minutes during the election coverage, there was a good percentage of voters who had spoiled their ballots.

    If someone feels that they just cannot vote for any of the parties based on their platforms, or even that they just don’t feel an election is necessary, they can spoil their ballot and their voice is heard.

    That being said, there are ways to vote strategically, most are common sense (anyonebutharper.ca has a widget that shows the person who is most likely to win your riding other than the Conservative candidate) and there is always the old standby of voting for the party that represents you as a citizen.

    Anyway, I’m not quite so profound today because I just woke up and am only half way through my first coffee.

  2. What a great post, Melanie.

  3. Tony – Sometimes I wonder if the counting of spoiled ballots are the last vestiges of a real democracy. I’m glad we live in a country which does take them into account. There are MANY ways to vote strategically as an individual and as a group. I ended up surprising myself and going in and voting for the local candidate I wanted to see in office rather than taking the strategic approach. I feel I did my part.

    Honey, you don’t need to be profound always. I know you’re going to be someone I can count on personally to have sound and fun political discussions with anytime and I love you for it.

    Ann – Thanks. I think I’m more bummed about the lack of turnout than I am in having the conservatives in again. I’m sure that’s fleeting and the other sentiment will return with full force but I really see this as an issue and have been trying to wrap my head around problem solving for it all day.

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