Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An open letter to an apathetic elector

Dear Uncle ____,

My mother tells me that you are contemplating NOT VOTING. I feel a sense of responsibility as a fellow citizen who is equally subject to the powers of the government to be elected to ask you,


Did you ever read or see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Do you remember the part at the beginning, where the world gets blown up because nobody launched any complaints or protests to the contrary? I think the comparison to voting is pretty clear. Do you agree with Dion's carbon tax? Are you in favour of reformed child care funding? Are you for tougher mandatory sentences for young offenders? Do you care about drastic cuts to arts funding? If you do not vote, you are basically saying "I do not care about any of these issues," and I know many of them affect you. And if you don't vote, you lose the right to complain about anything the feds do. You will just be handing them all you tax money and saying "Do whatever you feel like with this!"

I know, I know. You think your vote doesn't count. But realistically? The dollar you give to the Red Cross at the Wal-Mart checkout doesn't count. The low-flow toilet you recently installed doesn't count. The grade your daughter gets on her next spelling test won't count. But do you acknowledge any of this? Of course not. That would be way too nihilistic. And the Red Cross would be broke, the world would continue to waste water until there wasn't enough fresh water left, and our kids would all fail elementary school.

However, I have a piece of good news for you. Your vote kind of does count, or at least it doesn't not count as much as usual. You live in a swing riding, where, in the last federal election, the Liberal candidate lost to the Conservative one by a mere 455 votes (source: Wikipedia). Seriously, it is really quite important that you get out there and cast your ballot!

If you are totally disillusioned with all the major parties, at the very least cast a protest vote for the Marijuana or Communist or Family Coalition party. Because no matter who wins or looses on October 14, the most depressing number is going to be the voter turnout rate. Lots of people went to lots of trouble not only to ensure that you would be (mostly) governed by a democratically elected and therefore accountable government, but to ensure that it would be a government devoted entirely to Canadian interests, and not those of the British empire at large. Can't you even pay lip service to them?

Love, Rebecca


While we're on the topic, we should discuss how to talk to your parents about voting ... before someone else does.

The following is an actual conversation. My mother is a university-educated woman who reads frequently, can name and summarize every British monarch since the Tudors, and has been known to have arguments about the reformation at the dinner table. And yet, she has trouble figuring out who to vote for.

MOTHER: I don't know who to vote for. I hate the Harper government and I'd vote Liberal, but I like my [Conservative] MP.
ME: Hmm, well, what has your MP done that you like?
MOTHER: Um . . . I don't know.
ME: Well why do you like him then?
MOTHER: He communicates well.
ME: What do you mean he communicates well? You can't name anything he's done!
MOTHER: Yeah but he's always sending flyers to the house.
ME: Um . . . I'm gonna say you should vote Liberal.

Just a reminder. Talk to your parents -- and children, friends, colleagues, professors, senile grandparents, transit seatmates, and gynecologists -- about voting.

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