Voting Apathy Equals Democratic Apathy?

My Mom always said that if you don’t vote in an election, then you don’t have the right to bitch and complain about what the political parties do because you tossed away your say in anything.

I whole-heartily agree with that.

Sadly, there are many who see voting as a waste of time. They are too lazy to go out and put an X in a box, punch a hole through a card, or fold a piece of paper and drop it into a box. These  people’s apathy may be part of the reason why so many western countries have people in power that do things against the will and desire of the nation, and get away with it.

According to UK Political Info, voter turnout has dropped substantially since 1992, from 77.7% turnout, down to the startling low of 59.4% in 2001. It has rebounded to 65% in 2010. America, the supposed poster boy for freedom and democracy, isn’t any better. 1992 had the most respectable turnout of 78%. Over the past decade, the percentage of voter turnout has ranged from the mid to low 40’s to the high 60’s. Canada isn’t much better, with the average percentage hovering around the mid to low 60’s.

But considering these countries don’t have armed soldiers holding a gun to people’s faces preventing them from voting, or setting bombs off at polling stations, I believe anything below 70-75% turnout is sad. A lot of people forget that there are hundreds of thousands, millions, of people out there who fight and die just to have the right to vote, to have a say in how their country, and their lives, proceeds into the future.

Reminding people of this can get some surprising results. They’ll imply that people die for the “right” to vote don’t vote. That they mock the idea behind democracy and plight of those that don’t have our freedoms. Worst of all, they have no clue who and what they are voting for.

First off, the people in these countries who fight and die for the right to vote are doing so because they know something we in the Western/ First Nation countries have forgotten, the importance of the individual and the importance of having a say in deciding the path of their nation. American, Canada, Britain, and all the others who have the right and freedom to vote have taken for granted that privilege. The majority of people in those nations have become so passive when it comes to politics, that elections are treated as a chore instead of a duty. Maybe it’s because people have begun to see words and actions like “privilege” and “duty” as negative things. If it interferes with little Jimmy’s football practice, American Idol’s salute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, or my Facebooking, then it isn’t something they worth doing. If people are willing to sacrifice everything just so they can do something we western nation morons scoff at, then I’m pretty sure if those people are successful in gaining the right to vote, you better fuckin’ believe they are going to vote. Of course, when they become bloated jackasses like the rest of the western nations, then, ya know, I’ll do it after Britain’s Got Talent… maybe.

Second, no, I would not step out of the voting booth, crying “Freedom!”. But, if I wanted to, I could, because I do live in a country where I have that freedom. It is mind-boggling how short people’s memories are. After 9/11, America enacted the Patriot Act, where people’s rights were affected for the safety and betterment of a nation dealing with a devastating shock and loss. It was all right for most people (IE: white people), but not good for others (IE: non-white, Middle Eastern people). Some of those people who the act wasn’t good for may have come from a country where they already had oppressive laws and acts. They come to America, thinking they’ve gained some freedom. Then some assholes cause 9/11, and then the country they hoped would give them their freedom starts to turn into an early version of the country they left behind.

Maybe the people who mock the freedom we take for granted should educate themselves on what could happen, via V for Vendetta or Fahrenheit 451. Maybe they should read their history, about what has already happened. Maybe start with McCarthyism and the Red Scare, or anything to do with slavery in America, or the Jews in World War II. Maybe once they remind themselves how easily freedom can be taken, and how hard-fought it can be to get it back, they won’t think shouting “Freedom” after voting won’t be so silly.

Finally, it seems people put more research into buying their next smartphone than they do into who to vote for. I guess this allows them to use the excuse that they didn’t know who to vote for, so why bother voting. Little do these people know that there is this thing called the “internet” where they can look up pretty much everything about anyone, including the people in elections! If the internet isn’t for them, there’s always the TV, radio, or even *gasp!* the newspaper!

Sarcasm aside, there is no reason why people can’t be informed about the people running in an election. The old saying that one of the two things you should never talk to anyone about is politics (the other being religion), is just a good way to keep you head in the sand and hope for the best. Of course, when some people hear you supporting a different delegate, they take it as an attack on them. FYI: if someone thinks you are attacking them because you choose someone else to vote for, that person is stupid, or can’t have an open-minded discussion about anything. Regardless of which wing you are on, of even if you are in the middle, you have the right to vote for whomever you want. Hopefully, you will choose that person because you agree with their policies, their character, or stance on a certain subject, not just because you flipped a coin.

Having said all that, democracy isn’t perfect. How the Americans get anyone elected with majorities and college votes and such is a frightening miracle. Lack of voter turnout doesn’t help. Being oblivious to the people running and getting into office is our own fault. Voting scandals, media manipulation, attack ads, mud-slinging, and the like can taint a great mechanism for a nation. But if we paid more attention to its workings, maybe things might change.

Here in Canada, in the province of Ontario, we have an election coming up. I won’t walk out of the voting booth yelling that I am a free man enjoying my right to vote

But I’ll be thinking it.



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