It’s election day in Ontario, and I’m working a long day in order to get ready for my vacation, which will be starting at 16:30 sharp tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got my voter ID card in my briefcase, my photo ID in my wallet, and an employer with a sympathetic view on ducking out of the office for half an hour to go vote.
I’m not going to re-vamp my positions on the parties, and I’m not going to re-hash how I plan on voting. It’s been covered on this blog before, and nothing much has changed. What I’m going to do instead is simply urge people to vote.
Most elections that I’ve written about, going all the way back to my old LiveJournal, I’ve urged people to vote with the words “I don’t care who you vote for, just get out there and vote.” I’ve come to realize that’s not entirely true — I do care who you vote for, but I acknowledge that it’s not really my business who you choose.
I’ve got a ton of work on my plate today so I’m going to keep this blog post short, but let me point this out: experts are expecting a record-low voter turnout today, especially among young people. That is a huge fucking problem for me. Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations (meaning no offence to the older readers of my blog) have had their kick at the can. They’ve been making the decisions, and look how well that’s been turning out for young people. Getting informed on the parties and going out to vote is, I admit, a hassle… but compared to the hassles young people face with unemployment, underemployment, crippling educational debt, lack of transit, etc., etc., it’s definitely worth putting up with a little bit of hassle in order to send the message that you, as a younger person, are in a demographic that politicians have to concern themselves about.
Politicians aren’t going to make the issues that effect younger people a priority unless and until there’s votes in it. And if young people won’t vote, why the hell should they pay attention to us?
It’s a cynical opinion, I suppose, but from the point of view of a politician the only thing young people have to offer is their vote, because gods know we don’t have any money. If the youth of this nation would just make themselves heard, politicians would have to reckon with them. Right now, there’s very little incentive for them to pay attention: the major voting bloc in this province and country are the senior citizens, and the issues which concern and impact a senior citizen are simply not issues that effect youth and younger voters.
Being disaffected with politics and cynical about the political system is pretty understandable in this world, especially if you’re a younger person. But if you’re in your twenties and early thirties you need to get out there and vote. It’s not likely to overly effect the current election, but if young people can be seen as a useful demographic to court, then the political parties will start courting us. And in the long run, that’s how we’re going to see the changes that we need to see.
And just as a final note, one of my favourite quotes of all time:
“Politics is the art of controlling your environment”. That is one of the things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that “it doesn’t matter who’s President” have never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World – or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property – or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons – or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.”
–Hunter S. Thompson