(I put the ellipses in there to let your anger subside before you moved on to read my article/explanation/rant ;)
So, fresh off the Greens moving into the Parliament building and the proud Marijuana Party taking their rightful place in the Supreme Court, here I am with my “Why Bother?” attitude of ignorance… right…? Well, not quite.
Unfortunately, as much as I’d love to claim a total lack of knowledge concerning the most recent election, I do know a few things. I know who’s in charge at the Federal level; I know who’s running BC these days; and, I know which guy I didn’t vote for that won in my local riding. BUT, I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH TO VOTE!!!
I fervently believe that voting should really only be allowed for about 2% of the population. Honestly. I believe there should be a nation-wide test, for all those who would like to vote. The test should be in two parts: the first being an IQ test (ensuring no bias for those with a better education as a result of social or economic advantage) to guarantee the person scores at LEAST 100- the average IQ of a person; the second part being a test on the platform and recent history of the running parties. This may sound like ridiculous standards, but I truly believe that voting on something so critical as the control and future direction of our country should not be left up to the hoi polloi: this issue is for those that care enough about it to really learn about it.
The following is a quote from a good girl friend of mine- educated, interested in politics and a perpetual voter: “I voted NO on STV: I didn’t have enough time to research it, but my parents looked at it and told me it wasn’t set up well”… Right there is why I don’t vote- the nepotistic/genetic coding belief that “my parents know how I should vote,” or that “my really smart friend told me this was the thing to do”… You aren’t BORN a conservative… it takes years of not liking gays to end up like that! (Kidding! …vaguely ;)
And, while most of you will baulk at my friend’s remark, how many of you can say you’ve never said or thought any of the following:
“Well, this is how I voted last year so…” or,
“Well, I hated how he ran things last time, so I’ll just vote for the other guy…” or,
“I don’t quite remember what this piece of legislation was about, but I’ll vote anyway…” or, “I don’t know all their believes, but enough of them are in line with what I think so…”
Some of those are worse than others there, but all of them are among the reasons for my absenteeism come election day.
I realize that demanding people be of a certain level of intelligence and have enough time and effort in them to fully research all the relevant issues before being allowed to vote seems harsh and elitist… but hell, what’s wrong with being elitist when it comes to RUNNING YOUR COUNTRY!? (That quote I need to thank Jon Stewart for!) When Barack Obama was put forth as the “overly-educated and snooty-sounding” candidate for the Democrats, the Republicans fought back saying he “spoke too intelligently” and “sounded too smart for Joe six-pack”… THAT’S WHAT WE NEED! And, that’s the kind of person I want deciding my next leader! I want the smartest, most knowledgeable, most calculating, most invested people checking that box on election day: I don’t want the rushed student who thinks it’s cool to vote Green or the well-to-do mother to vote Conservative for the simple reason her taxes won’t change… There’s probably 100s of issues that these leaders differ on, and I want someone who knows them all and has thought out the likely ramifications of their vote to be there on my behalf. Ok, 2% is probably an over-estimation- but, there are those people out there: rich, poor, White, Asian, educated, blue-collar… there’s just not very many.
Now, to begin to address some of the more likely angry comments you’re scrolling down at light speed to post:
1. Adam, why don’t you LEARN about the parties and their candidates so you feel prepared enough to vote?
Honestly, I don’t feel I have the time enough to donate to this. In order to catch up with everything I already don’t know/have missed and everything new that streams in everyday, I would have to look back 20 years at this point to get a good grasp on the recent history of the parties and then include news reports from a variety of sources, daily, to ensure I wasn’t being biased, everyday until the next election to truly understand the issues… and I just don’t have that time. With school, work, and of course annoying people/voters on this site ;), I don’t feel I will be among that lucky 2% who deserve to be allowed The Vote.
2. If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch!
Don’t worry, I don’t! As much as an annoyingly-placed traffic light or extra percent on my liquor tax will cause me to raise an eyebrow from time to time, any friend could tell you I do NOT pipe up about politics or the choices our leaders make. I know my ignorance and resultant refusal to vote revokes my right to be angry when politicians (I don’t know) the name of change things in my life, and I accept it without issue!
3. This country fought to be democratic and allow its people a voice: some countries don’t even hold elections… how could you waste your freedom?
Unfortunately, this “Appear to Ridicule”-esque type fallacy works about as well on me as my mother’s complaint that “Children are starving in China, so why can’t I eat my brussel sprouts?” Why don’t all women who can bear children do so? Why don’t all couples who can get married do so? Why doesn’t everyone stop to say “I love you” to everyone in their lives, everyday? Why don’t we all eat our brussel sprouts? Because, we can’t live our lives for anyone but ourselves. Personally, in a country where rights- like gay marriage- can so easily be taken away by the (forgive the generalization) right-wing and oft dated-religious beliefs of a few, I’d like to think that the people in charge of voting on such topics are smart enough to know that gay marriage WON’T cause Canada to suffer the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, or that allowing women in the military WON’T “distract” our officers and lead to some Bacchanalian orgy on the battlefield…
4. Well, I know enough to vote, and that’s why I do it!
And, you know what, if you do: that’s great. But, I kind of doubt it. Do you know what the NDP’s stated reaction to the recent decision by the Federal Court of Appeal that overruled the “safe third country” approach…? Do you know how the Liberals intend to encourage young farmers to become the next generation of agricultural leaders? Heck, let’s make it easy: what percent of the world’s known-oil reserves does Canada have? These questions may seem ridiculous and out-of-the-air, but they all matter. IT ALL MATTERS.
I was born in Vancouver and have lived here all my life. I spent a year abroad in England, and am frequently in Seattle getting to know the slight differences being just a stone’s throw south of the 49th parallel makes. I’ve also traveled to about 2 dozen countries throughout the rest of the world and this will always be my home. But, I don’t feel right deciding the future of my home: I’m not knowledgeable enough. I’d love to be among that special 2% I keep harping about, but my Masters is not going to be in Poli Sci- that’s not my bailiwick. Put simply, do you want the best possible surgeon to work on you, or the doctor who knows most of what’s going on…? Or, less dramatically: what kind of financial adviser do you want making decisions about your money? The genius who’s spent years analyzing the market, or Joe-average who’s read few a newspapers and invests with his heart…?
And, that’s why I don’t vote.