I never thought this would happen to me, but I’ve become one of those “disaffected youth voters” you hear so much about.
I admit, approaching 40 years of age at a fast clip as I am, that calling myself a “youth voter” is a bit brazen. But I’m not ready to hop over the fence from the dungarees to the suits just yet, so humour me.
It all started last week when Steve Sutherland, from CBC Radio in Halifax, called to see if I’d be a good person to have on some sort of “election issues panel.” I told him that I wasn’t a good person, and that, in fact, I had no thoughts whatsoever about federal issues. I didn’t actually realize that this was true until I said it. But it is.
While I might feel close to my municipal and provincial politicians (how can I help but, given the small size of their districts and the fact that I know both of them, and they’re actually indirectly related to each other by marriage), Canadian federal politics exists for me on some disconnected ethereal plane that bears more in common with Survivor and The Apprentice than it does with “real things that affect my life.”
Indeed I’ve found myself relatively unaffected by the whole sponsorship scandal thing, mostly because I simply assumed that sort of thing happens all the time. There’s little difference, in my books, between crooked cash transactions and, say, the Solicitor General putting an Addictions Research Centre in his riding. Sure, one is perhaps criminal while the other is simply “working for the people of Cardigan.” But come on…
I don’t think any of this means that the people involved in federal politics are evil — indeed I happen to think my local MP, Liberal Shawn Murphy, is a stand up guy. I just think that politics practiced at such an abstract level is both liable to corrupt the sensibilities of just about anyone, and so far removed from real people’s lives as to be essentially irrelevant to the individual.
Yes, I know that federal politics can make Important Changes for Canadians. It’s just not clear to me how I’m actually a participant in this process in any real way.
And so I’m left to simply treat my franchise as I would the purchase of a car or a brand of toilet paper. And those running for office seem content to service me on this level: Stephen Harper is an evil worm, Paul Martin is corrupt, Jack Layton is a spendthrift, Gilles Duceppe wants to pull apart the country. None of which seems substantive, real, nor particularly interesting.
I think I might just sit this one out.
dungarees vs the suits..you’re a big WKRP fan, aren’t you?
You will not dare to sit this one out! How can you be so cavalier about democracy? It may not be cool to be in love with democracy but I think we should be awfully grateful for it. And that means you have to vote. You worried in an earlier post about what kind of example you were setting for Oliver by going to a Christmas concert. What kind of example are you setting by not voting!?
Vote Green. Find an issue you care about and grill all of the candidates about it and vote on that basis. Vote against something. I don’t care — just don’t stay home on election day. I can’t believe yoiu said that!
Yes, Peter, seriously, go have some iced tea! You’re talking mad, man!
I didn’t mean I wouldn’t vote — that would be irresponsible. I meant, rather, that I’m not inclined to participate in the theatre, to commentate, or to otherwise pay careful attention to the histrionics. I should have been more clear.
Right on the day when I’m getting all cynical, Compass reports that Haida Arsenault-Antolick is running for the Green Party in Cardigan against Laurence MacAulay.
Haida is the daughter of Oliver’s doula, Sylvie Arsenault. She used to make my morning Blueberry Bliss over at Nature’s Harvest, and now she works with Karin LaRonde at the Saturday Farmer’s Market.
I can’t imagine a better candidate.
Faith in democracy restored.
Democracy and/or tribalism.
I am glad you say your faith in democracy is restored but have to agree with Ann about the awfulness of your cavalier attitude on democracy that is — beyond anything else — just a tad lazy. And though this may seem insufferably emotional I do believe that the Canadians pushing up daisies/poppies in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe were not all just mindless automons — many of them died — died — to give their fellow citizens the right to vote.
It is easy to find reasons to be disinterested. Spend some time and energy to find some reaons to make it vital. This country needs people like you involved in the dialogue, Peter.
While I’m not convinced that I’ll remain disinterested, surely the daisy-pushers fought, among other things, for my right to have the freedom to do so.
Why don’t you start with the idea that so much around you is a federal transfer, that the life you enjoy in your home of choice — and should enjoy — is based on the confederal system. It is very hard for me to imagine how the federal level is the one someone in PEI could lose interest in. That being said, you should fight hard for your right not to vote. That is not irresponsible if you are constitutional autonomous in this discrete area as you are — whether you care to be or not.
If you’re only going to vote Green, I don’t suppose it matters whether you’re disinterested (I think you mean uninterested, don’t you?). I know. I know. That’s mean. And wrong too by certain standards. I may vote NDP, in case you’re wondering. But it will be strategic. I think the riding where I will be most likely be able to vote has been NDP a longtime. But I think if they got in they would be too scared to spend any of our taxes on anything, which is too bad. It needs to be done.
I’m hoping that everyone else in the country votes the same way as last time. I liked the minority government we had. I thought it was unusually responsive. My second choice is a Liberal majority. I am truly worried that the Tories will take power. Why? Because Harper himself has said that he thinks Canada is a second tier socialist society (that’s a direct quote, by the way). He wants to get rid of gay marriages. I am also pretty convinced that he will dismantle the health care system. I think those are pretty serious changes. So I am concerned. But I’m busy these days, so I won’t bug you too much about it this time.
We might be coming up to an election here as well in Hungary. The issues will probably have some similar themes, though the context is different. Nationalism, health care, corruption etc.. (not necessarily in that order). It’s the way of the world, it seems.
All my life I thought spendthrift meant stingy, in fact I just had to look it up again to be sure I was wrong — so many conversations, so many misunderstandings! This kind of thing can change your life.
Cross posting fun.
On disinterested vs. uninterested. This was annoying me after I read this stream. Stream? Sounds wrong. Forgive my ignorance on this front. There are two schools of thought, and though uninterested is considered by more people to be correct in this context, there is an argument to made that disinterested is actually fine (see link below). I do admire your attention to detail, and I am going to have to give the point to you. And believe I will become a stickler on it myself, just for fun.