How many elections will we allow to pass before we realize that we can no longer wait for the changes that need to happen? The pattern I see is clear. An election year arrives, we listen to party platforms, propaganda, flame wars and the kind of dialogue that is unhelpful and divisive. We place our vote and wait to see who “wins”. When the party we voted for doesn’t get in we say “oh, well… four more years and we’ll try again”. We don’t really realize how few kicks at that can we really get. Hell, I didn’t even realize it until 10 minutes before this sentence, while watching a Real News Network interview.
Let’s do that math now, shall we? I’m 50 years old. The legal age to vote in Canada is 18. So far I have had 32 years as a legal voter in Canada. Let’s divide that by a typical 4 year term. The answer is pathetic. I have had about 8 opportunities to vote in Canada’s federal elections. I have had 8 opportunities since 1985 (rough calculation but it is very close).
Back in 1985 I was young, ignorant and hopeful for the future. That first election was a landmark moment for me. I mean, I was able to finally vote! Being a young, new voter I had no clue about the political environment, the nitty-gritty of political issues and how they related to me personally. Out of the last 8 years I voted for the CPC 3 times, thinking that if mom and dad liked the CPC than I should also. After all they knew something I didn’t, or so I thought at the time. The next two elections I abstained from voting, because I reached a conclusion that the Conservatives were not going to be the best for Canada… ever.
Yet I was still not Liberal and I wasn’t going to vote for them, as mom hated them, and if mom hated them there had to be a good reason. I felt it was pointless to vote at all, so for a time I just stopped caring about my vote. I didn’t feel it mattered and my voice was drowned out by a multitude. By this time I blew away about 5 elections just learning the political environment. I was 38 years old, give or take. I became a Liberal supporter shortly after this, because I felt that I finally understood that the state our nation was in was obviously because of the misgovernment of the CPC. So, in the following 2 elections it was the LPC who I voted for. As an aside there was that extra one in there due to that proroguing incident that avoided the non-confidence vote against Harper, but that is an aberration in the pattern.
But then, something happened. Something broke inside my brain that shattered the illusion of the entire party system. I refocused my attention with a distrust that I never felt before. For 7 out of 8 elections I had voted with a level of ignorance that today I find appalling. This last federal election I voted strategically, with many others, just to get a tyrant out of office. I voted NDP, and not because I believed anything they said. By the way, the Conservative candidate in my riding didn’t win.
So, what is the point of this personal history? Why am I telling you all this? Out of 40 years as an eligible voter, I only got 8 or 9 chances to have my voice heard. Each time it didn’t matter what the party platform was, what promises were made/honoured/broken, or what controversy ruled from moment to moment. Until very recently I hadn’t really realized how untrustworthy and inept every single politician is. I found that it didn’t matter who was in power, who promised what or who did what behind the backs of the voters. Our country still seems to be sliding further down Parliament Hill, and if it continues in this manner, it will drown in the raging river of history. Last election I put in great effort in my writings, cartoons, memes, and social media comments to push this point home. Because I wasted 8 elections learning this does not mean that everyone has to waste a good portion of their life figuring it out. Being an optimist, I would like to think that I have about another 12 elections left in me and I’d like to spend the next 50 years of my life in relative security.
My point is simply that we all only get a few shots in our lifetimes. I get the feeling that our political system knows this and uses this to keep the same pattern of robbery and ruin going. I mean, after a while new generations of foolable people become eligible to vote and the cycle begins anew. So… exactly how many elections are will all willing to let pass until we wake up and demand the change we need? How many campaigns of lies are we willing to suspend disbelief in, and how many times are we going to play the my-party-is-best game, until we start using our votes effectively in order to kill the status quo?