HIST 100 And The Democratic Process

I voted on the 23rd with 65% of the Canadian population. I almost didn’t.

“No one really represents my views”

“The Conservatives are going to win anyways; why bother?”

“My vote won’t matter in the riding – I know the incumbent will win”

Apathy’s so tempting; it’s very easy to give in and think that your voice won’t make a difference. This wasn’t a total cop-out or rationalization on my part since both ridings I could have voted in have traditionally voted Liberal MPs with commanding leads. What changed my mind was the paper I had to write for HIST 100 – a paper on the French Revolution. Reading the textbook and the writings, I understood just how recent our right to representation is. Imagine a world where you’re born into servitude, taxed and tithed beyond reason, your fate decided by people with no interest in your concerns. People fought – and died – to bring us these rights.

I always knew this in an abstract sense. Recognized what we – I – take for granted is a relatively recent phenomenon. But it was only after reading through the history of the French Revolution did the enormity of the change and the breadth of the sacrifices people 1000s of kilometers away made strike home. After bitching so much about the essay I have to admit that I enjoyed writing it…

As Canadians, there is a lot I’d like to see change in our parliamentary system. I’m disappointed in the outsize power the Bloc – a regional party determined to destroy Canada – has. I’m unhappy that although Canadians are increasingly urban, our electoral ridings don’t seem to recognize this change. I want to see another centrist Liberal-esqe party offer a compelling alternative to the federal Liberals. I’d like to see small parties – like the Green party – get seats after capturing 4.5% of the popular vote. I want…

I want a lot of things. But I have to live with what’s here right now.

Maybe the rapid rise of technology and the ability to get highly customized and personally relevant information has made us expect the same level of customization from everything in our lives.  Why can’t I customize my political party like my latte ;~)  The truth is…political parties have to cater to people from all walks of life with immense differences in opinion.  There are 30 million other Canadians, and if I found another with exactly the same views I had – well – I’d be shocked.  Choosing your candidate is an exercise in compromise.  Pick the candidate and platform that represents most of your views.  At least the important ones.  At the minimum, that’s what each of us can do.

For us Canadians, there’s one more thing to keep in mind: every vote a party gets earns them a $1.75 in funding/year.  So, even if your party or candidate doesn’t win….your vote does count.

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