Every election whether it is a by-election or a general one, we will inevitably hear about those poor, hard-done-by disengaged folks who could not be bothered to vote. Often the losing side likes to play with the numbers to try and undercut the support that was there for the winning side. We saw that when people tried to downplay the victory by the Stelmach PCs in 2008 and we see some of it now with the Hinman win in Calgary Glenmore. “well ya know, with all eligible taken into account the support was only 20%…” yadda yadda yadda.
Well, people always claim they want honesty from politicians (though they often regret asking for it). As a person who has run in an election or two I am going to say something honest. I don’t care what people who don’t vote think!
Ahh, that feels better.
I tire of people yelping about how politicians have to reach out to those who are taking their great democratic right for granted. I tire of those who are too intellectually (or physically) lazy to vote asking for others to cater to their concerns.
We are extremely fortunate in that we have a democratic system that allows everybody to participate whether it is running for office, forming a party or doing the extremely simple act of voting. It is almost cliche, but it is extremely valid; people around the world are dying for the right to vote. In light of the risks some folks take to participate in democracy, why should I shed a tear for somebody who can’t pull their ass off the couch for 20 minutes every few years?
I will relate a story about an election I was in a few years ago. I had a couple native reserves in my constituency. I got a phone call from a resident on one of these reserves howling that I had ignored their area in the campaign and implied that this was due to racism. Now an irony in this is that I was the only candidate with some native heritage in that election and that I did indeed waste an entire day campaigning on that reserve. When I say wasted my day I mean it. The turnout was something like 6% in that election on that reserve.
Look at some political reality people. I had 28 days to convince as many people as possible to choose me as their representative. A campaigner has to be strategic in that scenario as opposed to idealistic. Realistically a politician would be very lucky to meet 30% of the constituents face to face in a campaign. Now in light of that, why on earth would a candidate pursue a demographic that is prone to not going to the polls? Left. right or center it is sort of stupid to pursue the vote of people who do not vote.
We only have so many means to keep our elected officials in check. The most important one by a long shot is the vote.
Voter apathy is a problem, of that there is no doubt. We should discuss and try to find means of increasing the participation of the electorate. If people think that they are sending any sort of message to any politicians by staying at home however, they are deluding themselves (this stands for people who think ballot spoiling sends a message or something too).
Whether a person votes for a fringe party, an independent or a frontrunner, they have at least had an impact no matter how small it seems. When a person does not vote at all they have had utterly no impact and they only have themselves to blame.
Quit blaming politicians for your apathy. While many may say otherwise I will answer honestly; we don’t care if you won’t vote.
I do care about issues that go beyond election issues. I certainly will never model any form of campaign about what the chronically apathetic take issue with however.
As for excuses not to vote, they are nothing less than that. I covered the commonly used excuses for not voting here some time ago.
If you have concerns and you want politicians to pay attention, may I strongly suggest that you vote. It sort of only makes sense doesn’t it?