Make Democracy Actually Matter
April 6, 2011 1 Comment
Re-printed with permission from Richard Weald
Elections Canada says that “Voting does not require a lot of time or effort – in other words, it is one of the easiest ways to have a say in how your society is governed.” I just want to express how totally I disagree with this in the light of our latest federal election.
Voting should probably be one of the hardest things for you to do. To understand issues, do your own research and to really make an informed decision, a person has to spend hundreds of hours learning, reading , listening— whatever. Being informed is hard and it takes a lot of effort. When (if) you go out and vote in the next election, please make sure you know what you are really doing when you put a mark next to someone’s name. Don’t do it because that’s what your parents do, or what your friends do, or because that’s what someone else told you to do. Don’t do it because you feel guilty about not voting or because you have a vague affinity for particular party and their buzz words— do it because you have real conviction and you actually believe in something.
Life is hard and a lot of the time it doesn’t go the way we want it to. With democracy, with people power, we get the chance for our voices to be heard and recognized. And it isn’t just about people hearing you, it’s you having something meaningful to say. It is our opportunity to act with real purpose and tell others how we want the world to be. Democracy is joining a club and agitating for change. Democracy is you working together with other people in anyway, because you feel like things are not the way you want them to be. Democracy is picking up garbage in your neighbourhood, building a school for kids that don’t have one, and democracy is you taking a stand and saying “Hey, I don’t like like the way things are so I’m going to do this to change that.”
Election Canada is right if it only means the physical act of voting is easy; walking into a building and writing on a piece of paper doesn’t take a lot of effort for most people. But what takes real effort in democratic state, as well as in life, is figuring out what you really care about- maybe realizing their is something you can’t live without, and fighting as hard as you can for it. Know what you want, know what you believe in, get involved and do something to make that happen. Democracy is people changing their own lives, not writing on a piece of paper.
If you’re going to vote, make sure it matters and it means something. Elections Canada says “The legitimacy of a government lies in the fact that it is elected. Low voter turnouts may call into question this democratic legitimacy.” To me, a government is illegitimate if people have no idea what they are talking about and only a vague, uneducated idea of what the issues really are. Go read about economies before you bash governments for their budgets and go get versed on how parliament even works before you attack politicians for acting the way they do. If you’re going to vote, make sure you’re ready to fight for what you believe in and make sure you have a leg to stand on, because this is my country too and I want it to be the best place in the world for me and mine to live in.
Be smart, read a book. Don’t be an idiot. Take action and participate in democracy because it’s part of your plan for making your life and the lives of the people you love better.
Follow Richard Weald on Twitter at @richardWEALD