“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for supper” – James Bovard
Today is election day and I am torn. In over forty years I have never felt such trepidation over a federal election while at the same time being so glad it is coming to an end. The amount of negativity and vitriol that has been spun is beyond belief. It is important to recognize that because how we message these days has changed so much.
Social media is second nature to generations like Millenials but not as simple to many baby-boomers. Social media allows vast platforms for the spread of misinformation, or as some like to politely refer to it, targeted messaging. Truth has become irrelevant when spin can be so powerful to a segment of the demographics (baby-boomers and seniors) who trust an electoral system that is badly outdated.
I find it quite unnerving, as an older Canadian, living in an age of rapid technology advancements over how how broken our electoral system is. We badly need a 21st century governance system that will work for today, not a system that was build to tackle 20th century issues.
There are four generations of voters this time around and each have their own generational challenges. So regardless of what generation you belong to, we are ALL Canadians that want what is best for our country. An important distinction here is the acceptance of compromise so we can accomplish what is best for the country and not just our generation. Compromise use to be a given in Canada but it is now seen as a weakness by the more aggressive ideologist.
We need to accept compromise as a way to move Canada forward, a country that benefits all. We shouldn’t want to be a country that is becoming increasingly fearful with citizens that feel their mere existence is threatened because of who or what they are. I experienced that myself in the past week just because I was in a wheelchair. I am, as these two idiots put it, “a drain on society”. Welcome to the new Alberta.
We can no longer afford to allow the polarization generated by a campaign of fear and promoted by hateful ideology pit Canadians against each other. I have never seen an election use so much negativity and superficial blame (often baseless) by ALL parties while being so policy weak. Effective policy, not negative messaging, is how we will move towards a better Canada for ALL regardless of what generation you are part of. The policy commitments I have heard I take the time to “fact check” but that is a luxury many do not have or understand.
I have a little list of “pro’s and con’s” over my voting concerns. Prior to voting I tally those up and use the results as “one” of my deciders. Democracy is important to me and I will not surrender it to any one type of ideology. We are a diverse country, our diversity is what sets us apart on the world stage, and I am quite open to seeing that diversity as part of our political system. With that said, I will not accept any one ideology to be the guiding force behind our political direction. That is not diversity. Nothing gets a tick faster on the “con” side of the list faster than a negative ad.
I have been around long enough to understand election “promises” are like click bait on Facebook, they have little meaning when the time actually arrives. Election promises are like the beads thrown all over New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the next morning you have a drawer full of colourful beads with little value, that’s an election promise. Ask Ontario, how did Ford’s “buck a beer” work out for you?
What goes in my “pro” side of the list is statements like “we will try”, “with all due respect”, examples of ethical behaviour, actions that demonstrate respect for difference, etc. Election promises are optics, not direction. Our democracy is under attack and we are doing that to ourselves by being naive as well as complacent.
We don’t need more ideologists making power moves for the sake of power and control, not for the betterment of Canada. We need governments who are committed to moving us forward and not dragging us back to the times of baby-boomers (of which I am one) childhoods. Times have changed and to maintain a valuable democracy we need to change as well.
My four simple steps for voting
- Don’t don’t vote based on fear. It is fine to be cautious but fear is not cautious, it is an excuse for avoidance and serves no purpose.
- Don’t vote based on what others tell you to do. You can take advice but do your homework, respect the laws and respect yourself. Voting is similar to taking an exam, you can get advice from others but when it comes time to write that exam you are the only one in the room.
- Vote based on a your principles not just your personal ideology. Ideologies can change with time but principles and ethics remain dynamic, not static. Understand your principles and know where they come from. Your principles are the guiding lights for your actions and your actions are what others will respect you for.
- Be yourself and if those close to you don’t like that, well maybe you should be asking yourself “am I really important to this person”. We all have many acquaintances during our life time but we only have a handful of true friends. Understanding the difference establishes the quality, not the quantity of your life. Life is not Facebook.
My trepidation today comes from the feeling that we are at a true crossroads of our democracy. Get out and vote but vote with purpose. And don’t let your political involvement stop at the polling booth. Protecting our democracy is ongoing and your involvement must also be ongoing. It doesn’t have to be time consuming but it should be continuous. An action as simple as sending a regular e-mail to your MP demanding accountability or change (four or five lines) is involvement. Keep up the demand for that electoral reform we were promised a little over four years ago. We cannot go through another election as full of vitriol and misinformation as we did in 2019. Be part of the solution, not a contributor to the problem.
Get out and vote…