Letter: Don't blame others for you going on a voting 'strike'

Editor:

Re: I’m going on strike from voting. This is why. Record Letters

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Voting is the last, desperate act of democracy, and I’m sorry you don’t feel compelled to commit that act. But please don’t pretend this is a problem caused by everyone else.

If you don’t like anyone running, feel your voice is unheard, are unconvinced by the arguments you hear in the four-week run up to election day, I ask what you have done in the preceding 200 weeks to improve that situation.

Have you reached out to your Member of Parliament to let them know your position on issues important to you? Have you connected with the other parties or independent candidates in your area to see if they understand your concerns?

Have you volunteered for, spoken to, or donated to organizations that work to amplify your voice on those issues that matter to you? If you identified a party that generally matches your philosophy, did you join the party, attend their meetings, or try to have influence on their policy in areas where you may disagree?

Too many people in Canada treat politics as a spectator sport – something you observe from the outside and complain when a team you don’t like wins the cup. Not enough of us actively take part in the process that leads us to periodic elections. I recognize there are a lot of reasons why people don’t get involved: we have busy lives with work and families and rent and Canucks games. For many people marginalized by language, ability, or socio-economic status, there are real systemic barriers to participation, but there are also many groups actively trying to break those barriers down.

The hardest barrier to break is apathy. When the privilege of voting is not valued, the case for participation in the democratic process is weakened, and democracy is weakened. Look around the world today, you see there are forces actively working to erode your franchise. Voter suppression can be overt or it can be subtle, but when someone tells you your vote doesn’t matter, they are saying your participation doesn’t matter. This is voter suppression as surely as if they put up a physical barrier preventing your access to the voting booth. Your strike is their victory. 

Vote. But after you vote, take a bit of time to do some democracy care in your community before the next election. Don’t be the systemic failure you lament. 
Patrick Johnstone, New Westminster

 

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